Storm clouds in the “sunny skies” of prosperity and optimism

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Storm clouds in the “sunny skies” of prosperity and optimism – Canada 1900’s
Beneath the prosperity and enthusiasm of the first decade of the new century were signs of difficulty and
discontent. Not everyone was happy about what was, on the surface, a great Canadian success story. The chart
below indicates some of the groups that were unhappy with their lot while Canada seemed to prosper.
Group
FrenchCanadians
Factory, mine
and construction
workers
Issues/Concerns
Continuing resentment over acts of the past,
like the execution of Louis Riel
Resentment over British influence in Canada
Issues that aroused their hostility:
- Canadian assistance to Britain in the Boer
War in South Africa
- proposed Canadian contribution to build
up of British navy
- Catholic bishop advocating the
acceptance of English language and
customs
Dangerous working conditions
Low wages and long hours of work
Child labour
Unsanitary, crowded housing conditions
Farmers
High C.P.R. freight rates to transport grain
High prices for goods manufactured in central
Canada (ie. farm machinery) Prices high
because foreign competition (ie. American)
was limited by Canadian government tariffs
Aboriginal
Nations
The growing Canadian prosperity was based
on their production of grain but they believed
they were not sharing equally in the wealth
that resulted
Most were now residing on reservations,
many in poverty and ill-health
They could see land that had been theirs being
developed as farms, lumber camps or mines
Canadian assimilation – forbidden to speak
their own languages and following their
cultural traditions
Maritime
Provinces
Resentment of growing prosperity in central
Canada
Ports such as Halifax being bypassed for
Trans-Atlantic trade by ports such as
Montreal
Effects/Actions
Women
No political rights
Could not vote or be elected for political
office
Could hold certain jobs – in factories, such as
textile mills and in offices, domestic servants
Poor working conditions and lower wages
than men
Few opportunities for post-secondary
education and for careers outside teaching and
nursing
Immigrants
Although most became very successful in
Canada, many ended up in very poor and
dangerous jobs in cities, living in slums often
with poor sanitation facilities
Some experienced prejudice and
discrimination. Suffered anti-immigrant
marches and newspaper articles, destruction
of immigrant property (ie. Vancouver riot in
1907)
Low wages and often laid off first
Lack of political rights (could not vote until
they became citizens)
Children and
Youth
High infant death rates from disease and
malnutrition
Child labour and unsafe working conditions
Lack of education for poor and farm children
Poor
Malnutrition and other illnesses
High death rates
Alcohol abuse
Poor housing conditions
Lack of educational opportunities
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