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.
New Gold Rush
The Vancouver Sun, on Page 4 of its June
12, 1933 edition, quoted A.J. Smith, the papers financial
editor, in an address to the Advertising and Sales Bureau of The
Vancouver Board of Trade.
The mining industry in Bridge River, Cariboo
and other mining districts of British Columbia will mean to Vancouver
what the Kirkland Lake, Porcupine and Cobalt districts mean to Toronto
and what the Yukon meant to Seattle, he said. Millions
of dollars and thousands of investors are watching developments
in British Columbias gold camps. The activities of the New
York group in Pioneer, for example, gave this country advertising
that could not be purchased in New York. To my own knowledge it
has brought at least three major operating groups into this country...
From the gold to the silver camps is just
a step, and it is well to remember that B.C. is the principal silver-producing
province of Canada.
Silver to go to 50 cents an ounce
Silver will return, undoubtedly, Smith
said, to a price level comparable with that existing several
years ago, probably around 50 to 60 cents an ounce. [Note: on January
7, 2007 silver was fetching about $15 an ounce Cdn.] Fifty-cent
silver and dollar wheat will spell moderate prosperity to all of
Canada, and those goals may be reasonably expected to be reached.
On any rising price basis, this part of Canada must benefit, especially
where metals are concerned. The stock market, while not a guarantee
of returning prosperity, is certainly a trustworthy barometer. It
points to much fairer business weather in the months to come.
Migration to B.C.
The Daily Province, on Page 8 of its June
14, 1933 edition, quoted Dr. William Bowie, of Washington,
DC, delegate to the Pacific Science Congress, in an address to the
Transportation and Customs Bureau of The Board. [The 1933 Congress,
the fifth, was held in Victoria from June 1 to 4, then from June
5 to 15 in Vancouver. We looked it up: one of the papers presented
was by the eminent anthropologist Marius Barbeau, titled
The Siberian Origin of Our Northwestern Indians.]
What Dr. Bowie was talking about was a great
trend of migration to British Columbia. He was a senior official
with the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, and was speaking on the subject
of Charting and Mapping the World to Transportation.
He said all phases of transportation depended to a large extent
The progress of world shipping is dependent
on the charting of trade lanes, while commercial aviation, highway
transportation and the railroad found their origin in a fixed plan
of direction and distance. He remarked that travel by airplane
in 1933 was as safe as the railroad was forty years ago, and predicted
that in the near future fewer accidents would occur.
Cromie back from Russia
The Board had a luncheon on August 14, 1933 to hear
from Robert Cromie, publisher of The Vancouver Sun,
who was just back from nine days in Russia. Mr. Cromie,
the paper said on Page One the same day, told of his visits
to Moscow and Leningrad, his inspections of factories and public
institutions, his visits to race courses and soccer fields and his
interviews with people in various walks of life. He came away impressed
by the sincerity of the Russian experiment.
The story was headlined Dont Worry About Russia.
If you have any respect for my eyes and my
views, Cromie told the members, I ask you to please
dont worry any more about Russia. Russia is made; she is by
nature wealthy; she has work, and she is doing that work reasonably
well, and I think her education machine will guide her in adjustments
that have to be made to tune her with the soundest thought of our
world and its economy.
[This was, by the way, precisely the time when Stalin
was forcing collectivization on the Ukraine, the most productive
agricultural area of the entire Soviet Union. Cromie wouldnt
have known that vast numbers of Ukrainians were dying because of
the famine caused by this policy, which included the forced shipping
out of Ukrainian grain to feed Moscow and other Russian cities.
See this website
Cromie said Russia would gladly buy 100,000 Canadian
cattle on reasonable terms. Before going to Russia,
Cromie continued, I could never get through my head what was
keeping the Russian people up to the pitch of interest and endeavor.
If Stalin and his group were such monsters, why did not the people
turn on them? Why would they stand for it?
A few days in Russia showed me that Russias
whole philosophy is a positive one. Action, Action, Actionthats
the slogan of Russia . . . They were too busy with themselves to
be much interested in me, and I soon took a tumble to myself and
stopped asking silly questions about their alleged starving people
and distressed conditions . . . Thirty years from now Russia will
probably be on our standard of living.
[It would be easy to be astonishedand dismayedby
Cromies views, but he was most definitely not alone in holding
them in 1933. And was he getting the true picture of conditions
there? He heard stories of starvation and cannibalism in the
Ukraine, the Suns report concluded, but
met some young people from that district whose parents had put up
money to give them a five-day visit to Moscow.]
Off to the Cariboo
The Sun of Tuesday, August 22, 1933 told
of 80 members of The Boardheaded by former president T.S.
Dixonwho were off on a trip to Barkerville for a whole
day of inspection of mining properties. They left by Union Steamship
for Squamish in the morning, would board a special PGE train there
to arrive in Quesnel early the next morning, then carry on to Barkerville
in a fleet of motor cars provided by residents of the district
... Boards of Trade and other organizations throughout the Cariboo
will entertain the party at luncheons and dinners. Returning stops
will be made at Williams Lake, Clinton and Lillooet and the party
is due back in Vancouver Saturday evening [August 26].
What they saw
The Sun for Saturday, the 26th, reported
(Page 30) on what those Board members saw. Cariboo Gold Quartz,
wrote the papers financial editor, A.J. Smith, has
arrived at a stage where it holds promise of being one of the greatest
gold properties in Canada. This is the opinion brought back by the
Vancouver Board of Trade party, which is returning today after a
five-day tour of the PGE [Pacific Great Eastern railway] and the
Cariboo country ...
Probably one thousand men are employed in
mining and subsidiary industries throughout that part of the Cariboo,
hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent in supplies for
the mines and the Cariboo field has entered upon a new life.
We learned a word, winze, new to us
in this Sun article. A Google search tells us its an
inclined or vertical shaft or passage between levels in a mine.
A Treasure Chamber
The newspaper reported that it was the brilliant
new ore discovery of the winze sunk from the main tunnel that attracted
the visitors. There, 110 feet below the tunnel, the party entered
upon a treasure chamber. An ore body some fifty feet wide with boundaries
even yet not clearly defined meets the eye. Gold values assay around
$10 over the whole surface with much of the ore face five times
as valuable. This ore body is some 600 feet below the surface and
is only one of the wide veins found.
[That sentence "Gold values assay around $10
over the whole surface with much of the ore face five times as valuable"
was confusing to this layman, so I contacted Jane Werniuk, editor
Mining Journal, hoping for an explanation.
Her response: In that era, ore was valued
on the value of the amount of gold that a ton of the rock contained.
So the surface of the ore face in the chamber was sampled (chips
of rock hammered off), and that was sent to an assay laboratory.
The lab results would show that there were so many Troy ounces of
gold per short ton of rock. The price of gold at that time was so
many dollars (U.S.) per Troy ounce. So the assay lab would work
out the value of the ore based on dollars of gold per ounce, and
ounces of gold per ton, to report a value of dollars of gold value
per ton of ore.
I dont know the value of gold at that
time, but a colleague of mine says that sometime during the 1930s
the value changed from US$28.50/ounce to US$35/ounce. You could
probably check that out through Kitco.com or some sort of Google
We no longer report assay results in this
fashion. We now report them as gold ounces per ton of rock (oz/t
Au) or gold grams per tonne (g/t Au).
I hope this is helpful. Good luck with your
Thanks, Ms. Werniuk.]
Gold was coming from the mine steadily, another
1,000-ounce brick being due in Vancouver early next week, making
the fifth shipped. The price of gold in Canada in 1933 was,
we Googled, $20.67 an ounce. So that brick was worth $20,670. The
mill, within a reasonable time, mine officials told the Sun,
will be stepped up 500 to 1,000 tons, producing between $7,000
and $8,000 daily.
An officer of the company told Smith This
mine will be taking out gold one hundred years from now. We have
barely touched one spot in a great new gold quartz camp. Every big
company in the world will be in here before the finish. Well,
they stopped mining here in 1967, making a total of 34 years. An
excellent history of the mines working life can be found here.
Its development led to the founding of the town of Wells, BC, named
for prospector Fred Wells. Its on the road between
Quesnel and Barkerville.
Further exploration of the area is going on. In early March, 2007,
the price of gold in Canada was about $645 an ounce.
And see the final item below for more on the Cariboo Gold Quartz
The report of The Province (also August 26,
1933, Page 30 in a story by financial editor Alex Shaw) on
the same Board exploration said that sawmills are humming
at various places throughout the mining area, cutting lumber for
the erection of housing quarters at the different properties for
the working crews and staffs . . . At every stopping place there
was the familiar sound of saws and hammers as bunkhouses were being
rushed up during the fine weather in preparation for the coming
winter. There is a great spirit of optimism throughout the Cariboo.
No word is heard in this great area of open spaces of depression.
T.S. Dixon spoke on behalf of the Board after a
dinner hosted by the mining company. He said that the evidence
of expenditure of time, money and energy in the development of the
mine was fay beyond what the visitors had expected to see.
[Dixon had been president of the Board in 1928 and would be again
The Province reported that the Board of Trade
party also visited the Lowhee place workings, Richfield Cariboo
Gold operation, Newmont property on Island Mountain and the Wingdam
property, about halfway between Barkerville and Quesnel where
work in extracting gold from the sands of the old bed of Lightning
Creek has been under way for many years.
Tanned and Fit
On August 28 the Province reported that the
Board of Trade delegates were back, tanned by the sun of the
Cariboo, and delighted with the Cariboo and its people.
It seems the party had stopped at Clinton on their
special PGE train, not long after leaving Williams Lake, and had
been met by former MLA D.A. Stoddard. He had something he
wanted to discuss. He stressed the need for some action to
obtain better prices for beef in that part of the country, and asked
the Board of Trade to do what it can toward some reciprocal agreement
under which the cattle could get into the United States market.
Jack Boyd of the Flying U ranch asked
the Vancouver people to act on the slogan, Eat Cariboo Beef.
At present prices, the raising of cattle is not profitable, he said.
Freight rates are too high, the cost of shipping cattle from Clinton
to Vancouver being as high as from Moose Jaw.
The delegates singled out the Vancouver Board of
Trades secretary, W.E. Payne, for the excellence of
his arrangements for the trip. Everything under Mr. Payne,
said L.B. Lusby, president of the New Westminster Board of
Trade, seemed to work out with clockwork exactness, and over a period
of years board members had come to recognize in their secretary
an ability for organization which is unsurpassed.
The party had their special train stopped at Rainbow
Lodge where Mr. and Mrs. Alex Philip were waiting to
welcome them. The stay here was short, the train leaving at 1:15
so as to connect with the boat at Squamish.
[The Rainbow Lodge was the most well-known tourist
resort west of Banff. There's an interesting history of it and Whistler
In the Depression-saddled 1930s people recognized
the initials NRA, not as the National Rifle Association, but as
the National Recovery Administration. This was an American initiative,
developed by President Franklin Roosevelt and his advisers
and started June 16, 1933. A Wikipedia article on the subject says,
in part, It allowed industries to create codes of fair
competition, intended to reduce destructive competition and
to help workers by setting minimum wages and maximum weekly hours.
Most economic historians consider the NRA to be a resounding failure
with very little positive economic success. [In fact, former
president Herbert Hoover described it as a fascist
idea, and said it was inspired by Benito Mussolini! The U.S.
Supreme Court would strike it down in 1935.]
We cite it here because the headline on Page 1 of
the Province for October 18, 1933four months after
the NRA programs beganreads: CANADA HAS TURNED CORNER AND
WILL NOT NEED NRA PLAN, a report on a luncheon address to his fellow
members that same day by H.R. MacMillan, the president of
the Vancouver Board of Trade. (Yes, hes that H.R. MacMillan,
of B.C. forest industry fame.)
We in British Columbia and throughout Canada,
MacMillan told the members, can view the United States
vast social experiment of NRA with every sympathy and wish for its
success . . . but there are certain encouraging Canadian indications
which may render such drastic action in this country unnecessary.
He said that Canada had turned the corner
in the first quarter of the year. Eastern department store
sales have advanced more quickly in Canada than in the United States,
and re-employment of 250,000 persons in Canada is proportionally
equal to that in the US even with its NRA. He also cited increased
exports of lumber, metals, pulp and agricultural products as another
indication of improving conditions. Mining development was phenomenal.
We have still some distance to go, MacMillan
said, but we started up the hill early this year.
Said the Vancouver Sun of November 30, 1933
(Page 12): A delegation of Vancouver business men called on
Premier T.D. Pattullo [in Victoria] this morning to congratulate
him on his success at the polls and assure him of their cooperation.
Of more practical issues which they may have
discussed members of the delegation were silent.
The delegation consisted of H.R. MacMillan
and W.E. Payne, president and secretary of the Vancouver
Board of Trade; J.G. Robson and Hugh Dalton, chairman
and secretary of the CMA [Canadian Manufacturers Association]
in British Columbia; T.H. Wilkinson, secretary of the BC
Lumber and Shingle Manufacturers.
The Province ran the same story on Page 1,
saying that the delegation expressed their desire to co-operate
with the government in the solution of British Columbia problems.
Incidentally, the election that saw Pattullo win
had been held November 2. His Liberal party took 41.7 per cent of
the popular vote and 34 seats. The official opposition was the CCF
(Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation) with 31.5 per cent, and seven
seats, in their first entry into BC politics. The Conservatives,
who had lost the election (under Premier Simon Tolmie), had
become badly fractured and various factions won small chunks of
the total, and a total of three seats.
Mining not Appreciated
Vancouverites, read a Sun story
on Page 2 of its December 28, 1933 edition, are not yet fully
alive to what mining development means to the city. They should
study the mining history of Ontario and find what mining has done
for the city of Toronto, said Dr. W.B. Burnett, president
of Cariboo Gold Quartz Ltd., at a luncheon meeting of the Mining
Bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade in the Hotel Vancouver yesterday.
The mining areas of B.C., Dr. Burnett
said, are Vancouvers most valuable hinterland. Mining
development in the past year, especially in Bridge River and Cariboo,
had been one of the chief factors in the general revival of business
in recent months.
He told the members that there were 3,000 people
in the Barkerville area living well off a revived mining development
where there were but a few hundred two years ago.
Farmers and ranchers of the Cariboo were hardly
able to supply the new demand for their produce and much of it had
to be brought in from other parts of the province.
Mining was helping the PGE railway, too. Freight on the line in
1931 amounted to only 1,300 tons. In the first 11 months of 1933
it was 6,400 tons. Passenger traffic also had multiplied several
That whole area buys its supplies and equipment
from Vancouver, Burnett said. Vancouver business men
and citizens generally should be showing more interest in mining
He was thanked by A.E. Jukes, retiring bureau
What else was happening
locally in 1933?
For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The
Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.
Next: 1935 »