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.

1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893
1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899
1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905
1906 1907 1908 1909 1910  
1926       1932 1933
1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940


More Money

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 competition.”

“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, among them:

  • 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:

  1. Repetition. Keep talking or printing the idea. Advertising or trade slogans are the outstanding example.
  2. Avoid argument in any sales talk. Just assume there is no other side. ‘Canada's Next Government WILL Be Liberal.’
  3. Play on the fundamental instincts and motives of people. ‘Save the Kiddies’ curbs more motorists than ‘Drive Slowly.’
  4. Make all statements simple and direct so that they are easily understood.
  5. If your basis of fact and argument is not clearly laid and easily demonstrable, use direct suggestion.
  6. For permanent and eventual results, aim your propaganda at the children.

Orient’s Progress

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 country.

“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. 

Railways Praised

“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.’”

Mental Patients

“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 (Page 9).

“‘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 operations.

“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 rapidly modernizing.

“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.

Asia's Industrialization

“‘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 only begun.

“‘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.’

New Guinea

“‘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 camp.

“‘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" peoples.

Changed Conditions

“‘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.”

Happy Finland

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 of 1926.

Illiteracy Low

“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 competitors.

“‘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?’”

Tourism Growing

“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.
: 1,102,806
: 1,318,980
: 2,488,358.

We don’t have figures for the Truck Crossing a few kilometres farther east, which is also a busy spot.]

Jubilee Jubilation

Vancouver’s 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 council.”

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 this site.]

Here’s the Sun story:

Vancouver 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 to Drink

“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.”]

More Records

“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 June.

“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 remarked.”

[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 ago.

“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 Reviving

“‘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:

Harbor Administration: 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.’

Railways: Change 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.

Aviation: Britain, 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 five hours.]

Engineering Doings

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.

Los Angeles Aqueduct

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 Council.

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.”

“Canoe minded”

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.

Great Range

“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 11.

“‘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.

Higher Standard

“‘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.

Immigration Serious

“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 of business.]

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 »

































Hugh Guthrie (image: wikipedia)
Hugh Guthrie
[image: wikipedia]





































































































































35 a minute (photo:
35 a minute







Samoan pall bearers (whose feet seem average in size) (photo:
Samoan pall bearers
(whose feet seem average in size)






































































































































































































The Cleveland Dam, built in 1954 and named for Dr. E.A. Cleveland (photo: gvrd)
The Cleveland Dam, built in 1954 and named for Dr. E.A. Cleveland
[Photo: gvrd]











































































C.D. Howe
C.D. Howe












































































Charlotte Whitton (photo: cbc)
Charlotte Whitton
[Photo: cbc]










































































































Stephen Leacock (photo: Stephen Leacock Museum)
Stephen Leacock
[Photo: Stephen Leacock Museum]