You’ve heard of Show Biz. This is Biz Biz, the history
of business in Vancouver, told through the activities of The
Vancouver Board of Trade.
George Pearson, the provincial Minister of
Labor, spoke to the Advertising and Sales Bureau of The Board of
Trade at a luncheon meeting February 17, 1936 in the Hotel Georgia.
His talk—which pushed for better wages—was reported
on on Page 8 in the Sun the next day.
“‘I'll gamble,” he said, ‘that
if you let me go at it for two years more you will be blessing me
for what I'm trying to do, and there'll be mighty few criticisms
of my efforts to improve labor conditions.’”
“Wages in British Columbia increased by $20
million in 1934 and another $15 million in 1935, he said in enlarging
upon his argument that better wages mean better business all around.
“‘We found that business in itself
cannot regulate conditions, being forced by competition into those
conditions,’ he said. ‘We are trying to put a firm foundation
under wages. Our attempt is to help you, to guard you against unfair
“There is a new social consciousness developing
rapidly, and business must acquire some of that consciousness and
help regulate itself, he continued. ‘The greater extent to
which you regulate your own business the lesser extent will I attempt
to regulate it for you,’ he concluded.
“Closer contact between government and business,”
the Sun’s report concluded, “would eliminate
a large part of business men's nervousness, said J. Y. McCarter,
president of the Board, at the close of the minister's address.
You’ve Got Rail
Said the Sun in its February 25, 1936 edition
(Page 10) “Problems which affect railway transportation
in Canada were outlined to the Transportation and Customs Bureau
of the Board of Trade at a luncheon meeting in Hotel Vancouver Monday
by the Hon. Hugh Guthrie, chief commissioner of the Board of Railway
Commissioners, now sitting in Vancouver.
“Guests of the bureau with Mr. Guthrie were
his fellow Commissioners, J. A. Stoneman and G. A. Stone.
“Mr. Guthrie's address was packed with facts,
- Since 1909 more than $34 millions have been
spent through the railway board in protecting grade crossings
in Canada—yet 30,000 level crossings still remain unprotected
- In the five years ending Dec. 31, 1935, there
were 1,603 level crossing accidents, 1,077 involving automobiles.
Casualties were 463 persons killed, 1,247 injured.
- The outstanding problem of the railways today
is competition from commercial motor vehicles, which do
not come under the authority of the Railway Board.
- Freight and passenger haulage by motor vehicles
in competition with railroads is a legitimate enterprise and is
going to take an increasing part in economic life of the future.
Six Laws of Psychology
The Tuesday, March 3, 1936 Sun (Page 10)
reported on a talk on propaganda given by Dr. J. E. Morsh, psychologist,
department of philosophy, University of British Columbia, to the
Advertising and Sales Bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade, at
a luncheon Monday.
“Propaganda, Dr. Morsh said, may be good
or bad. Most of it is good or for good, if selfish, purpose. It
is the art of ‘making up the other man's mind for him,’
and largely the basis of all advertising.
“Dr. Morsh defined six fundamental laws of
psychology in propaganda:
- Repetition. Keep talking or printing the idea. Advertising
or trade slogans are the outstanding example.
- Avoid argument in any sales talk. Just assume there is no other
side. ‘Canada's Next Government WILL Be Liberal.’
- Play on the fundamental instincts and motives of people. ‘Save
the Kiddies’ curbs more motorists than ‘Drive Slowly.’
- Make all statements simple and direct so that they are easily
- If your basis of fact and argument is not clearly laid and easily
demonstrable, use direct suggestion.
- For permanent and eventual results, aim your propaganda at the
There’s a prescient remark in a luncheon
address given March 6, 1936 by Col. R.D. Williams to the the
Foreign Trade Bureau of the Board of Trade. It was at the end of
a Page 5 report in the Province the next day.
Col. Williams covered a lot of ground in his talk:
“Shanghai, the fastest growing city in the world; the Japanese
jittery over what Russia's next move will be; the growing strength
of the Nanking government; Chinese fine roads built on the proceeds
of monthly lotteries, where the first prize is $250,000.
“These and other features of Oriental life
were described at a luncheon meeting Friday by Col. R. D. Williams
who recently returned from a visit to China and Japan. He gave a
breezy and interesting account of his experiences.
Shanghai Building Boom
“For seven years Shanghai
has been enjoying a building boom, he said, and big hotels, apartments
and fine residences are being erected comparable to anything America
can show. Rents are low and the Chinese dollar, equal to about 30
cents Canadian money, apparently goes as far as the dollar in this
“Throughout the Orient, Col Williams said,
there is a big potential demand for everything that Canada has,
as the country is becoming westernized. Prices must be low. ‘The
Orient will not buy from Canada,’ he declared, ‘until
we buy Oriental goods in greater quantity.’
“The speaker thinks there is too much fuss
being made about the Communism in China. It is not the Communism
as it is understood in Russia, he added.
“In Japan, Col. Williams saw great industrial
strides being made but a country dominated by the military spirit,
a spirit deliberately cultivated by clever propaganda and likely
to express itself in a blow-up within the next five years.”
Add five years to 1936 and you get 1941.
“The average amount received by Canadian
railways hauling a ton of freight one mile is considerably less
than one cent, Mr. W. M. Neal of Winnipeg, vice-president western
line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, declared in an address at
noon before a joint luncheon meeting of the Transportation and Customs
Bureau of the Board of Trade and the Canadian Pacific Association.”
That’s the lead on a story in the March 23,
1936 Province (Page 4).
“‘That rapid, safe service can be and
is furnished for such a low return, is evidence of the high standard
of operating efficiency which your railways have succeeded in maintaining,
notwithstanding the problems with which recent lean years have confronted
them,’ said Mr. Neal.
Day Not Passed
“‘In the heyday of highway construction
and improvement, when millions of dollars were being spent on roadways—most
of the mileage of which was parallel to and afforded competition
with the railway—the careless remark was heard that this was
the form of transportation of the future and the day of the railway
had passed. Reflection of even the most superficial sort reveals
the inaccuracy of such a thought and corroboration of this observation
is found in comparison of real costs of highway transportation with
those on the railway.’”
“The surprising fact that ‘fifty per
cent of the patients in hospital beds today are mental cases,’
was indicated to members of the Health Bureau of the Board of Trade
by Dr. Arthur L. Crease, medical supervisor of Essondale, in a luncheon
address on Mental Hygiene at Hotel Vancouver.”
So reported the Province on March 26, 1936
“‘Attributes of the normal mind are
an even temper, happy disposition, socially-considered behavior
and alert intelligence,’ stated Dr. Crease. ‘Mental
hygiene, then, is the continuous effort to sustain that normal mind.
The outlook today is not nearly as hopeless as in past years. There
has been a great advance in the treatment of mental cases.’
Fishing Too Controlled
“British Columbia's fishing industry is hampered
by too much government control, Mr. R. R. Payne, production manager
of Canadian Fishing Co., declared in an address to the Advertising
and Sales Bureau of the Board of Trade at luncheon on Monday.”
That was the lead for a Province story on Tuesday, March
31, 1936 (Page 7).
“‘The fishing industry should be allowed
to work out its own salvation,’ said Mr. Payne in referring
to government fishery regulations as one of the handicaps under
which the business labors. He declared that there is dual government
control in the industry, the provincial administration having jurisdiction
over manufacturing and the Federal Government over the actual fishery
“Other industries are not subject to such
restraints, the speaker said. He quoted an instance in which disagreement
between Provincial and Federal governments had virtually tied up
the fisheries for some time. In outlining the history of attempts
to establish a mutually satisfactory salmon treaty between United
States and Canada, Mr. Payne said that the Canadian Government has
always ratified the agreements but that the United States Senate
has tabled them.
“The value of such treaties is better appreciated
when it is realized that for many years US fishermen reaped approximately
75 per cent of the Fraser River salmon harvest before the ‘runs’
reached Canadian waters, he pointed out.
“He told of the first salmon canning activity
in 1876 in a small sockeye plant on the Fraser just below New
Westminster. In those days canned salmon found a ready
market in England.”
Robert Cromie back from the East
A fast response to the talks by Sun publisher
Robert Cromie is that his predictions (and perceptions) tended
to be off, but he was a hell of a speaker. (As an example, check
out his 1933 remarks on Russia here.
He’s back, and this time he’s been
to the Orient. Let’s listen in as the Sun for April
1, 1936, Page 1, reports on his visit.
“‘Asia is industrializing and modernizing.
“‘When you pull into Yokohama or Hong
Kong you see numberless ships; when you see the soil fertility of
New Zealand and Australia; when you see the Great Powers grabbing
for every Pacific island they can get their hands on; when you run
over Japan's industrial figures and see where from 1908 to 1918
her industries doubled to 22,000; and from 1918 to 1924 they doubled
again to 48,000, and then by 1932 had jumped to 67,000 industries;
you wake up to the fact that Asia with her 500 million people is
“The historic event of our time will not
be the Great War or the Great Depression, it will be the modernization
of Asia. The industrialization of Europe about a century ago, and
the same thing in United States and Canada about 50 years ago, is
now in a rapid way happening in Asia.
“‘The moment you step across
a gangplank in Japan or China you become conscious of this, and
instead of finding the sensational and dramatic world that you and
I read about in the newspapers, we find people who are rapidly industrializing
and socializing like you and me, only, of course, on a much lower
scale. That's why these trends are so important to our continent
and particularly to Pacific ports.
“‘The swarming population of Asia is
a thing that you and I have see to really comprehend. Every day
in China 50,000 new babies are born. If there was food enough
to feed them they would probably make it 100,000 because China's
history shows that production of people has always been a little
ahead of production of food. For 15 years Japan has had a net annual
increase of over one million population.
“‘But the famine and war and population
problems of Asia are incidental to United States and Canada compared
to the fact that Asia is modernizing, and the trade of Asia has
“‘When the United States broke away
from England, British traders thought they had lost all their American
business. They overlooked what the growth and modernization of America
would do for world trade in general, and British trade in particular.
“‘Well, it is now the issue with Asia.
And consciousness of Asia's modernization is the job of the Pacific
Coast. Europe is the only world that Atlantic people know, but Europe's
day is dimming. Asia's big day is just beginning.
“‘Asia is our world."
“‘The Samoan natives have big flat
feet two or three times the size of ours. You would have to
see those big hams to believe their size.’
“‘It doesn't seem possible to me that
the 500 million people who live two days away in Java,
China and Japan will be very long content to allow six million Australians
to exclusively occupy that big rich undeveloped continent.’
“‘Let's go north now to Asia, and passing
through the Coral Sea stop at New Guinea adjoining the equator.
The New Guinea native is a little brown pigmy about 4 ft. high,
with red hair, and of a very low evolution. They live in huts covered
with banana palms and grasses.
“‘Here is a story that will probably
help you to understand the low evolution of these natives
in the South Sea Islands. We came into a village where three days
before they had shot a wild pig with arrows. The pig was not killed;
he was only wounded in the hip. They caught him, tied his legs together,
and putting a long pole through the tied legs, brought him into
“‘When we saw the pig he had been hanging
on that pole three days and was still half alive, but they were
keeping him alive for another three days as the piece de resistance
for a big potlatch.
“‘It never occurred to them to kill
the pig and put him out of his suffering. Neither do the South Sea
natives, nor Asiatics, seem conscious like we do of human suffering.’
Babies Outrun Food
“‘In China about 50,000 babies are
born every day, and if you could find the food for them I suppose
they would make it 100,000 new babies per day, because the history
of China shows that the production of people has always been a little
ahead of the production of food. China's masses have been
perpetually hungry. That hunger, plus Chinese cleverness and
industry, has always crowded out the invader. That's why you need
never fear Japan or anyone else conquering China.
“‘You and I have to go and see their
Chinese cities, see their activity, their immensity, and the extent
of their modernizing, to appreciate how, despite the sensational
stories we read about them, they are coming on. There is probably
more building in the city of Shanghai or Tokyo than in
the Dominion of Canada.
“From Hong Kong to Canton
is 100 miles. What does it look like? Farms, farms, farms. every
foot of the ground is under cultivation, except the thousands of
little plots in the centre of those farm fields taken up by graves.’
Life on the River
“‘You should see Nanking today, and
then compare it with the Nanking of seven years ago when I was last
in China. See the wide avenues, boulevarded, see the pretentious
public buildings already erected and others under construction.
See the three-million-dollar tomb of Sun Yat-Sen on a hillside some
six miles out of the city.
“‘It is true that the Chinese are afraid
of Japan. That is, they don't like to fight. The Chinese is a
philosopher. The Japanese is a warrior. The approach of each
to any problem is entirely different. But no set of warriors ever
has, or, to my mind, ever will beat wily industrious John Chinaman
and his 450 million colleagues.
“‘It is true the white man is losing
some of the cinches that he had in Asia and India, but in many cases
he was entitled to lose them. What we did was to go out to India
and China and Japan and conduct ourselves as dealing with "subject"
“‘The European would put on a dress
suit and then yell "boy" for brandy and sodas, and wait
for the business to come to them. That day is over, Japan
and China are themselves now yelling "boy.” For instance,
only 16 years ago, or in 1920, ninety per cent of Japan's $400 million
per year silk trade was hauled in foreign ships. Today 10 per cent
of Japan's silk trade is hauled by foreigners, and 90 per cent by
the ships of Japan.”
It isn’t local, but the subject of this April
17, 1936 talk in the Hotel Georgia to the Foreign Trade Bureau
of The Vancouver Board of Trade was too interesting to pass
over. The story is from the April 18 Sun (Page 18).
“Finland has weathered the depression perhaps
better than any other country in the world mainly because government
and people imposed upon themselves an accepted policy of utmost
economy. And unemployment is negligible, less than 10,000 in a population
of 3,700,000 because the unemployed have been put on the land and
assisted to maintain themselves in diversified farming, G. W. Tornroos,
consul for Finland, said Friday.
“The net result has been that Finland has
not defaulted on any foreign debt, has balanced the national budget
in the last four years, and has reduced her public debt so that
it now stands at only $21 per capita. A 3.5 per cent refunding loan
recently floated in Sweden was oversubscribed ten times.
“Exports in 1935 were the highest in all
time and domestic business now is well above the normal standard
“In an interesting description of a little
known country, Mr. Tornroos took evident pride in telling that illiteracy
is less than 1 per cent, that while wages are low the purchasing
value of money makes the standard of living compare favorably with
that of British Columbia. Finnish currency is tied to the British
pound and Britain is Finland's best customer, taking some 46 per
cent of all her exports. Finland is reciprocating by increasing
her buying from Britain from 13 per cent of all imports in 1931
to 26 per cent in 1935.
“Lumber and pulp is the chief export to Britain.
And raw forest materials constitute 85 per cent of all Finland's
export. Now the republic is turning to development of latent mineral
resources, including nickel and copper.”
Our Lumber Industry at a Disadvantage
R.V. Stuart, manager of the B. C. Loggers' Association,
spoke to the advertising and sales bureau of the Board of Trade
at a luncheon in the Hotel Georgia on Monday, May 4, 1936 on the
subject of “Economic Problems of the Logging Industry.”
The talk was reported on in the Province on May 5 (Page 7).
He said that BC and US lumber manufacturers faced entirely different
conditions, and so comparisons between wage scales and working hours
were most unfair.
“‘In British Columbia we are almost
completely dependent upon export markets,’ the speaker declared.
‘In 1935 82 per cent of our sawmill production was sold outside
this province and the Dominion, while Washington and Oregon marketed
90 per cent of their production in the United States' domestic market,
selling only 10 per cent export.’
$1 a Day Elsewhere
“In enlarging on dissimilarities between
the US and BC markets, Mr. Stuart pointed out that in this province
lumber is being produced on a wage scale for common labor of from
$3.40 to $3.60 for an eight-hour day, as against $1 to $1.25 for
a nine or ten-hour day in Finland, Sweden, Latvia and other foreign
“‘This wide disparity in wage rates
and hours is only one of the advantages such competitors have,’
Mr. Stuart continued. While the partial reopening of the Canadian-U.
S. reciprocity treaty has helped B. C. lumber manufacturers to a
certain extent, Mr. Stuart said that its assistance may be judged
from the fact that total U. S. imports of B. C. lumber during the
first quarter of this year amounted to 17 million feet, hardly the
production of one moderate-sized mill.
“‘How can British Columbia manufacturers
expect to maintain the same wage level as that in the United States?’
the association manager asked. ‘We could only do it at the
expense of losing our European and other foreign business and that
would close down 75 per cent of our mills and logging camps. Are
we not better off to keep our people employed as they are at present?’”
“Need for greater co-ordination in activities
of British Columbia tourist promotional organizations, was stressed
by Major J. Gordon Smith, provincial director of information and
publicity, in addressing the advertising and sales bureau of the
Board of Trade in Hotel Georgia at noon today.” That was on
Page 20 of the Province for May 11, 1936.
“Advertising and publicity are the best seeds
for a tourist crop, Major Smith contended. He declared there is
a vast travel ‘market’ available, but that the highly
competitive nature of the business makes it difficult to obtain
unless more than ordinary effort is exerted.
“Lack of accurate information on the extent
and value of the tourist trade sometimes makes it difficult for
supporters of tourist bureaux to realize benefits of such organizations,
the speaker explained.
“‘Although the tourist business is
obviously an important one,’ he continued, ‘it unfortunately
does not possess a yardstick with which to accurately measure its
scope. In fact all that is known exactly is the number of U. S.
automobiles which enter through the southern customs “ports.”
Last year they numbered 116,883.’
Despite lack of complete information, however,
the speaker said that it can be safely estimated that tourists circulated
more than $12 million in British Columbia last year and that the
figure this year will be much greater.
[Note: Tourism Vancouver
has figures for crossings at the Douglas Border station. These show
the number of cars crossing into Canada at that point in 2006.
We don’t have figures for the Truck Crossing
a few kilometres farther east, which is also a busy spot.]
50th birthday was marked by many newspaper articles that
looked back at the city’s past. The Province published
a special supplement on May 21, 1936 that included this item (Page
27) on The Board.
“Next year Vancouver Board of Trade will
celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. The board was organized the
year after the ‘Big Fire’ with David Oppenheimer of
beloved Vancouver memory as the first
president and a membership of forty. Since that date the organization
has grown into one of the largest and best-organized boards in Canada.
Its membership of 1,550 is probably the second largest in the Dominion.
“Departments are the B. C. Products Bureau,
the industrial department, the traffic department and the donations
branch. In addition to these, the general activities of the board
are conducted through thirteen bureaus, each of which caters to
a specialized requirement. The bureaus are legal and legislative,
advertising and sales, mining, engineering, health, retail merchants,
transportation and customs, wholesale merchants, insurance, financial
and real estate, shipping, civic, foreign trade and BC products.
“BC Products department seeks to educate
British Columbians to patronize their goods first, when quality
is equal to other competition, and at least buy within the British
Empire. It is active in every centre of the province.
“The traffic department has an active membership
of more than 600 business men who are continually serviced on every
phase of traffic matters.
“Purpose of the industrial department is
to prepare and distribute reports not only in connection with existing
industries or industries for which there may be a field in Vancouver,
but also on foreign and home markets for British Columbia manufactured
articles or raw materials. It is in constant touch with banks and
financial houses of the city, who make use of its facilities, and
receives a daily stream of letters from all parts of the world seeking
information on possible markets in this province or suggesting markets
for B. C. products and raw materials.
“The donations branch keeps 300 leading firms
of the city supplied with valuable information on applications received
from many quarters for aid.
Peripatetic (and they get around a lot, too)
“Not the least valuable service the board
renders not only Vancouver, but the
whole province, is its work with Board of Trade and similar groups
throughout British Columbia in striving for good relations between
all sections of the province and unanimity of opinion and action
on problems affecting the province generally. The board sponsors
annual trips to sections of the province to acquaint Vancouver
business men with outside problems and to discuss with the people
visited questions of mutual interest. In 1928 the board enlarged
on this work by sending a trade mission to the principal centres
in Great Britain.
“To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, the
council of the board, governing body of the organization, may organize
another trans-Atlantic trip.
“Speaking generally, the board embodies the
studied opinion of the commercial and industrial interests of the
city. Under its setup snap judgments are impossible. Before the
board is committed to an opinion, action must first be taken by
a bureau. From the bureau the proposal goes before the council on
which are representatives of each bureau, of the board, past presidents
and members of past councils. No action of any section of the board
is representative of the full board until it is endorsed by the
Vancouver’s Water Supply is a Health Asset
Page 5 of the May 28, 1936 Sun has an interesting
story on Vancouver’s water supply. [To read more detail on how
the city got its first water, check the 1889 chronology on
Here’s the Sun story:
is fifty years old. Her water supply, one of the finest in the world,
was first piped to the city 47 years ago. Today, the system as operated
and administered by the Greater Vancouver Water District Board,
furnishes water for all purposes to an area of 290 square miles,
including the city proper, North Shore, New Westminster, Richmond,
Coquitlam and adjoining municipalities. Soon it will be ready to
supply the south side of the Fraser, when that supply is needed,
because mains are to be laid from New Westminster
when the new Fraser River bridge is built.
“E.A. Cleveland, LL.D., first and continuing
chief commissioner of the metropolitan board, told the story in
graphic and historical detail at a luncheon meeting of the Health
Bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade, in the Hotel Vancouver Wednesday.
Water, Water Everywhere . . . and Lots of Drops
“Describing the various steps taken by the
Greater Vancouver Water Board to obtain additional supply, Mr. Cleveland
explained how the lakes in the watershed—Burwell, Palisade
and Lomond—had been turned into reservoirs and used during
the summer, when there is a big demand. A considerable quantity
was drawn from the reservoirs in February, he said, when the creeks
were practically frozen up.
“‘These reserves will do for a few
years yet," he continued, ‘but the board must plan ahead
for further increases in population. Two sites are available for
large dams to create additional big reservoirs—one on the
Capilano Canyon, at the hotel site, where the water can be raised
to the level of the road, creating a 680-acre reserve, and the other
at the head of Seymour Canyon, where a dam will create a water area
of 850 acres.
“‘The Capilano can be regulated to
200 million gallons a day—the city's present total demands
being between 60 million and 70 million gallons—while the
Seymour supply can be stepped up to 220 million gallons daily. When
the New Westminster water system
is taken in, this will give a still further supply of water. So
there is no danger of a water shortage if the board will keep ahead
of its work.’
Bringing Water In
“Mr. Cleveland admitted the board is not
very far ahead at present, but explained that the purpose has been
to develop at a rate that will not impose too heavy a burden on
the municipality. Much can be done in six or eight months to increase
needed supply, he added.
“He stated that the district served by the
water board now covers 290 square miles. Water is brought from the
North Shore in ten 18-inch mains at the Second Narrows and through
a tunnel at a depth of 400 feet in First Narrows. Work is now proceeding
on a 63-inch water main from Capilano to Marine
Drive. Arrangements are also being made
to run a main across the new bridge at New Westminster
to serve future needs at the south end of the bridge.”
Purest on the Continent
The Province, in reporting on the same talk,
closed with this:
“Dr. A. K. Haywood, superintendent of the
General Hospital, in moving the vote of thanks to Mr. Cleveland,
declared that the present water supply in Vancouver provides probably
the purest water on the continent. ‘There is an absence of
typhoid and dysentery in Vancouver attributable to the city water,’ he said.
‘One can drink a cup of tea here and not feel he is sipping
chloride of lime such as is used in many eastern centres to purify
the water. Vancouver laundries do
not have to use any softeners, and one can enjoy a bath in the soft
water so different from the hard water of the East.’
We’re Coming out of the Great Depression
“Steady improvement in business conditions
in Vancouver and British Columbia is shown by statistics contained
in the monthly bulletin of the Vancouver Board of Trade's industrial
department.” That was the lead in an August 11, 1936 story
in the Province (Page 18).
“Gains are shown,” the paper continued,
“in employment figures, building activity, rentals, shipping
and virtually all industrial and business branches.
“British Columbia log scale for the first
six months of 1936 was 1,254,393,929 feet b.m., approximately 17
per cent higher than the corresponding period in 1935. [We assume
“feet b.m.” to mean “board feet.”]
“Waterborne export lumber shipments from
British Columbia in June recorded an all-time high, when 86.5 million
feet were despatched.
“Grain shipments from Vancouver
for the crop year ending July 31, 1936, totalled 56,488,949 bushels,
as compared with 51,895,844 for the same period in 1935.
“British Columbia's building total of nearly
$5 million for the first half of 1936 was nearly double that of
the first half of last year. Vancouver reported $3,080,825 of this amount. Less than 1
per cent of the homes and 3.3 per cent of all apartments covered
by a survey of the Vancouver Real Estate Exchange were vacant in
“An indication of improved conditions in
the province is seen in the drop in commercial failures. For the
first three months of this year they numbered ten with liabilities
of $60,000, as compared with 28 and 57 for corresponding periods
respectively in 1935 and 1934.
“British Columbia with only 6.7 per cent
of Canada's population on June 1, was employing 9 per cent of all
industrial workers of the Dominion.
“There are 188 (?) mills producing gold in
Canada now against 108 a year ago. British Columbia has added several
plants to this total in the past year.”
New City Hall
From the August 11, 1936 Province (Page
18): CITY FATHERS HOPE FOR NEW HOME SOON.
“Members of the Civic Building Committee
metaphorically rubbed their hands Monday afternoon in anticipation
of the time when their deliberations will be conducted within the
gleaming white walls and well-appointed rooms of the new City Hall.
“A momentary shadow was cast on these
pleasant reflections, however, when Ald. J. J. McRae wanted to know
if it was true that it would be impossible to occupy the big building
at Strathcona Park until December. Other members of the committee
hastened to assure Ald. McRae that the report was only unsubstantiated
gossip and that the civic fathers will be firmly ensconced in their
new homes before the end of November.
“‘If we don't get in this year it's
likely some of us will never get in,’ Ald. W. W. Smith amiably
[Note: City Hall would open December 4, 1936.]
C.D. Howe Speaks to The Board
They called Clarence Decatur Howe the “Minister
of Everything.” In the October 10, 1936 Sun (Page 3)
we get an early glimpse of his effectiveness. There’s a good
brief look at it here.
“The work of a cabinet minister in Ottawa
is ‘the hardest I ever had to do in my life,’ Hon. C.
D. Howe, newly styled Minister of Transport, told an assembly of
nearly 400 Vancouver business men at luncheon in the Hotel Vancouver,
Friday, under auspices of The Vancouver Board of Trade.
“‘But I wouldn't change it if I could.
The problems are tremendously interesting; helping to meet them
is a privilege for any citizen,’ said earnest and plain-spoken
Mr. Howe, comparatively new to politics and public office.
“Introduced by the chairman, Vice-president
Walter M. Carson of the trade board, as ‘one of Vancouver's
best friends—the man who designed our grain elevators,’
the Minister's address consisted largely of an accounting of the
record of the new government and his own Department of Marine, Railways,
Aviation, Radio and what-not, since taking office less than a year
“Change, designed to be and believed to be
for the better; as Canada emerges steadily from the blight of depression,
has been the keynote at Ottawa, the Minister declared.
“‘Trade is reviving almost incredibly,
travel and freight movement increases day by day,’ he said.
“Mr. Howe briefly reviewed some of the changes
effected in his portfolio:
Centralizing of authority in one national board will not lessen
local authority. The port manager will have the same authority as
previous harbor commissions. The aim is to keep down unnecessary
expense and maintain low port charges, now the lowest in the world
. . . In eight months administration costs have been reduced and
net port revenues in Canada's seven national ports increased by
over one million dollars.
“He paid tribute to the experience and efficiency
of Port Manager K. J. Burns.
“‘I have no apology to make for initiation
of our new national port control system,’ said Mr. Howe. ‘It
is a benefit to Canada at large and to each port individually.’
in direction of the Canadian National from what was practically
a receivership basis with three trustees, to a national board of
directors is justified because revival dictates a "go-ahead"
policy. Directors are nationally known men conversant with railway
problems, chosen geographically so that they can attend frequent
meeting in Montreal. Vancouver,
although not directly represented, will suffer no handicap. Directors
know Canada intimately from coast to coast.
Everybody a Radio Listener
“Radio: Change is
designed to give radio listeners—‘and everybody is now
a radio listener’—more diversified and more pleasing
programs "away from the dead level of mediocrity of the past."
Radio, potent, educational and informative medium, must be used
in the interests of Canada.
ready for an all-British route across the North Atlantic via Canada,
to the Orient, has called for the Canadian link. Landing fields
are ready. Equipment of the most modern type is on order. Mail and
passenger service, Vancouver to Winnipeg, will
start not later than July 1 next; to Montreal
by the end of 1937; to Halifax a
little later. ‘We are seized of the importance of a Canadian
service of our own, operated by Canadians. It will prove a great
stimulus to business as 16-hour service between Vancouver and
Montreal will make personal contact between business men take
the place of correspondence,’ the Minister declared.”
[Note: Flight time between Vancouver
and Montreal these days is just under
The Engineering Bureau of The Board was brought
up to date on a number of interesting projects during a luncheon
meeting on November 4, 1936. The meeting was covered next day (on
Page 10) by the Province.
“The four-channel radio telegraph and radio
telephone system under construction at the Vancouver
airport by the department of national defense,” the paper
told us, “was described by D. D. Carpenter. This wireless
communication system will be in operation between Vancouver
and Toronto by the end of 1937, he
said, and extended to Halifax by
the end of 1938.
“Mr. Carpenter also told of the beam system
which is to be established for the aid of air navigation between
Vancouver and Lethbridge
and between Vancouver and Seattle. The beam will be operated automatically.
Still with the November 4 meeting: “Charles
Breckenridge, city engineer [note: it’s actually Charles
Brakenridge, who was city engineer from 1924 to 1946], who has
spent his vacation at the field headquarters of the Los Angeles
water aqueduct, gave an interesting account of that great undertaking
with its 150 miles of roads, 450 miles of power line, 1,000 miles
of telephone and 180 miles of pipe line. The main aqueduct is 243
miles long with 92 miles in tunnel and 63 miles in open canal and
55 miles in concrete. The water is lifted 1,600 feet to the coast
level by five great pumping stations and, when completed, the system
will deliver water into Los Angeles
at a rate of one billion gallons a day, if necessary. [Isn’t
this the project that’s central to the plot of the movie Chinatown?]
“H.G. Selman told of engineering work he
had visited in the East on a vacation trip, while Major J. R. Grant
spoke of the bridges he inspected on the Oregon coast highway. The
intention was to make five toll bridges but the public raised
so much objection that the toll was withdrawn through federal aid
to the structures," he said. [Major Grant was the engineer
on both the Burrard and present Granville Street bridges.]
Charlotte Whitton Speaks
In the Province for November 7, 1936 (Page
6) the necessity of Canada “carefully analyzing all aspects
of her relief situation was emphasized in a forceful address before
the Board of Trade at a luncheon meeting Friday by Miss Charlotte
Whitton, O.B.E., executive director of the Canadian Welfare
Her subject was "A National Welfare Programme."
“Miss Whitton urged that unemployment relief
should be distinguished from other forms of relief and causes of
each case diagnosed. Relation of seasonal employment to the general
relief problem should be studied, she said, and the various factors
now grouped as unemployment relief recognized.
“‘It must be realized,’ she added,
‘that Canada is limited in its resources with
a population of 11 million, of whom one-third are under 15 years,
and only from 38 per cent to 40 per cent gainfully employed.’
“Average earnings for males in Canada is
$900 per year, she said, for females $560, and for agricultural
workers from $350 to $400, leaving little margin to provide against
ill health, old age and unemployment. ‘In fact,’ she
stated, ‘the average man can not take ten days off work without
being on the verge of dependency. This country is now paying $200
million annually in social agencies and 18 per cent of the people
are dependent on that relief.”
“Mayor G. G. McGeer,” reported
the Province for November 28, 1936 (Page 3), “speaking
to the Foreign Trade bureau of the Board of Trade Friday, coined
a new phrase to describe the Dominion Government: ‘canoe-minded.’
The subject of his address was ‘The Ports
of London and Vancouver.’
“He declared that despite the fact the government
of England is ‘sea conscious,’ if the ports of Southampton,
London and Liverpool were placed under one central government board,
there would be revolution.
“‘Unfortunately our government is housed
on the banks of the Ottawa River, miles away from the Atlantic and
thousands of miles away from the Pacific Ocean,’ the mayor
said. ‘It is a canoe-minded government, and there is nothing
more detrimental to the development of ocean traffic than to
have a canoe-minded administration.
“‘They say “why don't you stay
as mayor of Vancouver?” The
answer is because there are things I want to say on the floor of
the House I don't want to say as mayor of Vancouver.
When the act providing for centralization was passed, there were
things I wanted to say, but was afraid to say as mayor as it might
have injured Vancouver.’ [McGeer had won a seat for the Liberals
in the 1935 federal election, which saw Mackenzie King’s Liberals
annihilate R.B. Bennett’s Conservatives.]
From Hope to the Gulf of Georgia
“Mr. McGeer declared there should be set
up a Port of Greater Vancouver with positive control over
all the terminal facilities starting at Hope, and including everything
on the Fraser River and Burrard Inlet. ‘Next we must unite
as citizens of Vancouver and Greater
Vancouver to command from Ottawa
and from railway and shipping companies that co-operation necessary
to permit development to proceed.’
“Speaking to men, most of whom are engaged
in the export and import trade, the mayor aroused enthusiasm when
he described the growth and possibilities of the port of Vancouver.
He declared that although the port of Vancouver has been operating
only fifty years, it already boasts one-fifth of the shipping and
number of ships as the port of London, which has been doing business
for 1,500 years.
A Rival to London
“‘In view of this progress, we have
a right to assume that in the next fifty years Vancouver
will become one of the greatest strategic centres, not only of the
British Empire, but of the world,’ he said. He added that
it was something for Vancouver to
be proud of when the annual report of the port of London in 1934
mentioned Vancouver as a practical rival in certain respects . . .”
Import Analysis Alarming!
“Products That Could Be Made or Grown Here
Are Brought from Outside in Great Volume, Board of Trade Finds.”
That was the subhead on a Page 35 story in the
Province for December 5, 1936.
“The Vancouver Board of Trade,” the
paper continued, “has completed an analysis of the imports
into the four western provinces to indicate the trend of buying
power and the opportunities for manufacture and other forms
of production. The figures show that $35 million worth of goods
that could have been produced in the West were imported last year.
“In considering lines that must be imported
into the area in view of the fact that they could not be produced
in western Canada, a comparison by groups for the past three years
shows a steady increase in the imports of lemons, dried currants,
raisins, vegetable oils, rum, peanut oil, handkerchiefs, towels,
postcards, steel sheets and plates, sheet tin, pipe, tubes and fittings,
automobile engines and parts, farm machinery, logging machinery,
metal working machinery, automobiles, both freight and passenger
and parts for same, tractors, radios, electrical parts, asbestos
products, chinaware, tableware, crude oil, fuel oil for ship's stores,
diamond dust, salt, pigments, soda compounds, and toys.
“A similar study of articles now manufactured
or produced here or that could possibly be manufactured here shows
an increase in imports over the three-year period in celery,
lettuce, onions, sauces, catsup, wheat flour, confectionery and
candy, boots and shoes, cheese, worsteds and serges, blankets, plywood
furniture, converted paper products, zinc sheets, zinc dust, diesel
engines, gasoline, lubricating and other oils, shoe blacking, toys,
and fishing tackle.”
We got a kick out of this story. It comes from
Page 11 of the Province for December 12, 1936, and concerns
S.S. McKeen, a Vancouver MLA. [Incidentally, Stanley Stewart McKeen
would become President of The Vancouver Board of Trade for 1943.]
McKeen was one of three Liberal MLAs who had been elected for the
Vancouver-Point Grey riding in the 1933 provincial election. Just
one member represents that riding today: Premier Gordon Campbell.
McKeen was speaking to the Legal and Legislative
Bureau of the Board of Trade at a luncheon meeting Friday, December
“‘One of the basic causes of all the
unrest of the day,’ McKeen said, ‘is that many citizens
regard our legislators with suspicion. My experience as a new member
of the Legislature is that members go to Victoria earnest in an
endeavor to do something for their country.
“‘I also believe that the members
are of a little higher standard than the average citizen. I
say this without personal reference but speaking of the membership
of the House as a whole. Political parties try to obtain as candidates
men whose characters can not be seriously attacked. Once these men
get into the House they are more careful of their conduct than private
citizens, realizing they are under constant observation, and they
try their best to uphold the honor of their positions.’
“Mr. McKeen said that many people think legislative
action is too slow in being achieved. This is done deliberately,
he said, for the reason that it is good practice to give the public
a chance to pass an opinion on suggested legislation.
“‘Ninety-nine per cent of the members
of the Legislature are trying to do a public service,’ he
declared. ‘They take their responsibilities seriously.
Give the government and the members of the House at large all the
support you can, for the better support you give them, the better
government you will receive.’
“In moving the vote of thanks, Gordon Wismer,
MLA, declared Mr. McKeen was one of the most popular members of
the House at Victoria.”
“A rollicking address by Stephen Leacock,
full of anecdote-coated pills, marked the thirteenth annual dinner
of the Foreign Trade Bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade at the
Hotel Vancouver Monday night.” So began a Province
story in the December 29, 1936 edition (Page 6).
“Dr. Leacock took as his subject ‘Social
Credit and Social Progres,’ and though Premier William Aberhart
sat immediately in front of him among his auditors, he spoke more
of social progress than Social Credit, though with many side thrusts
at Douglasites. [‘Douglasites’ were followers of the
man who developed the Social Credit philosophy, a Scottish engineer
named C.H. Douglas.]
“[Leacock’s] theme was the topical
one of good will to all men, the kindly spirit, universal harmony,
which he thought would conquer many economic ills. But to this was
appended a plea for larger immigration into Canada and an economist's
dictum that we should spend liberally now in order that our
children might be happy tomorrow.
“Yet Dr. Leacock chuckled as he took an initial
thrust at all social planners. He took as his text, ‘following
the example of clerical friends on those rare occasions when they
preach to me,’ the sentence from the Bible: And he said,
'saddle me an ass, and they saddled him.’’
“‘I don't want the direction of this
shaft to be toward me, but toward all men with prepared plans,’
he exclaimed, attacking the theories of Adam Smith and of Malthus.
“But Dr. Leacock became starkly serious as
he spoke of the need for larger immigration into Canada. ‘What
are we going to do with outside population who want to come into
this country?’ he asked. ‘The Dominion can support them
and has food for them. There has grown up the insupportably false
idea that this country represents a cake, cut into slices, of which
the number of pieces represents the number that are here now. We
have long since forgotten that there is work for all. Even the labor
people have given notice that we don't want people.
“‘If ever we shut out people from this
country we're on the first way to ruin,’ he exclaimed. ‘The
poorest immigrant is our biggest asset. That is the only truth
we need to know.’”
The Province concluded its report of the
dinner with: “Dean Ballard of Seattle, who has never missed
an annual dinner of the bureau and has invariably told a good story,
lived up to his reputation. He offered on behalf of the United States
to take back Mrs. Simpson if Great Britain would take back Harry
Bridges of maritime strike fame.” [“Mrs. Simpson”
was Wallis Simpson, the American double-divorcee whose affair
with Edward VIII culminated in his abdication; “Harry Bridges”
was the Australian-born US labor leader, whose militant policies
on behalf of longshoremen and warehouse workers made him a bane
What else was happening
locally in 1936?
For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The
Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.
Next: 1937 »