Youíve 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


A note: the federal government has an interesting brief article here on how the Second World War affected the Canadian economy. An excerpt: “For a decade before the war, Canada’s economic situation had been very bleak. From 1929 to 1933, the gross national product fell 43 per cent, and exports plummeted by 50 per cent . By 1933, the unemployment rate had risen above 25 per cent. Recovery began in 1934, but its pace was very slow until the war’s outbreak . . .”

Prospecting ‘Killed’ in B.C.

“Six leaders of the British Columbia mining industry created a sensation among a representative gathering of heads of the industry in Vancouver Friday afternoon, by laying bare the difficulties under which prospectors labor in this province.” That was the lead on a Vancouver Sun story from January 14, 1939 (Page 26.)

“Dr. Victor Dolmage, famous mining consulting engineer, Gordon Murray, himself a successful prospector; F. E. Woodside, manager of the B. C. Chamber of Mines; D. S. Tait, secretary of the Privateer Mine Co.; Fred M. Connell, head of the Toronto Mining & Exploration Co.; and heavy investor in British Columbia mines, and Dr. W. B. Burnett, head of Cariboo Gold Quartz Mines, joined in a slashing attack on the manner in which the other branches of the industry, and its allied industries, have ‘killed’ the prospector in British Columbia, and damaged the future prosperity of the mining industry.

“They spoke in a symposium address before the Mining Bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade, and their condemnations of the B. C. mining industry's relations with the prospector were greeted with continuous volleys of applause.

Chapter and Verse

“Points brought out in the discussion,” the Sun continued, “included:

  1. Prospecting in B. C. is ‘dead’. The industry itself has killed it.
  2. The prosperity of the industry 10 or 12 years hence depends on prospecting being carried out today. There is none.
  3. At least four-fifths of B.C. mines that developed into paying mines in the last ten years are the discoveries of prospectors of a past generation which has not been replaced.
  4. At least 95 per cent of paying B. C. mines are the discoveries of independent prospectors.
  5. Prospecting has been killed by big companies who ‘legally defraud’ the prospector, by "experts and engineers" who discourage him, and by business men who draw big profits from the mining trade but are afraid to put any money back into it.
  6. The government draws much revenue from the prospectors and from the result of their work, but fails to support prospecting adequately.

Said D.S. Tait: ‘The reason that prospecting has died out in B. C. is simply that for the past five years there has not been one decent deal between a big operating company and a prospector. The treatment of the prospector in B. C. varies from very rotten, to just plain bad, which is the best he can hope for. Even with a proven claim he gets frozen out. One big company squeezed a $3 million claim out of a man for $10,000.’”

Vancouver Lacks Courage

This long newspaper article concludes with remarks by W.B. Burnett: “ ‘I have spent 30 years backing prospectors, and it has paid me well,’ declared Dr. Burnett, famous as the man whose persistent courage “made” the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mines, and president of the B.C. Chamber of Mines.

“‘The trouble,’ he said, ‘is that the engineers and experts discourage the prospectors, and the grocers, hardwaremen, machinery dealers and others who make big money out of the miners won’t put a few dollars back into the deal via the prospector. Vancouver has the best chance a city ever had in history to make millions, but it hasn’t the courage. If this city took the advice it has heard here today, its citizens would make money for themselves, for the city and for the province.’”

G. Lyall Fraser The Board’s new President

The January 18, 1939 Sun (Page 2) announced that G. Lyall Fraser, manager of Western City Co. Ltd., would be the new president of The Board. He would succeed John Whittle. H. R. Cottingham, branch manager of Ford Motor Co. of Canada Lts., is the new vice-president elect, whose name—like Fraser’s—was the only one submitted when nominations closed on Tuesday, the 17th.

“W. E. Payne, executive secretary,” said the paper, “was also confirmed in that office, which automatically makes him a member of the council of the Board. He is entering his twenty-first year as secretary.”

Ira Dilworth Invites Criticism of CBC

“Nearly 200 persons crowded the dining salon of Princess Kathleen at Pier B. C. Friday night,” reported the Sun of January 21, 1939 (Page 11), “to attend the annual meeting of the Transportation and Customs Bureau, Board of Trade. They were there to see F. M. Rutter, new bureau chairman, officially installed, and to hear Prof. Ira Dilworth tell of the aims and problems of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“‘The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation invites sane, constructive criticism,’ Prof. Dilworth, B. C. Regional representative of CBC, told his audience. ‘We have attempted to provide Canada with a balanced program, but are constantly besieged by irresponsible, uncritical listeners who insist that their whims should dominate our programs.’

He listed three major problems facing CBC:

  1. Control: The problem of harmonizing CBC's democratic responsibilities to safeguard the greatest good to the greatest number.
  2. Variety of program taste.
  3. Coverage: CBC is committed, as a national utility, to a policy of caring as far as possible for listeners in lonely places.

Province’s Take

The Province on the same date (Page 5) added a couple of other details: “Action of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in barring certain individuals from the air lanes was defended Friday night by Dr. Ira Dilworth, CBC regional director, who addressed the annual dinner of the transportation and foreign trade bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade. Although he mentioned no names, Dr. Dilworth's remarks recalled the broadcasting corporation's recent refusal to lease station time to C. George McCullagh, president of the Toronto Globe and Mail.

“He urged the public to be patient with Canada's national broadcasting system, emphasizing that it is still in the experimental stage [it was formed November 2, 1936] and, if properly nurtured, can become an extremely important force in the realization of a greater national unity.

“In keeping with the nautical atmosphere of the meeting, W. E. Carr sang several lusty sea chanties for the bureau members. Other entertainment was contributed by Jack Boothe, Daily Province cartoonist, and Jack Emerson, pianist.”

[1936 was a busy year for 31-year-old financier George McCullagh. He had bought that year The Toronto Globe, a newspaper with a circulation of 78,000, then a few weeks later bought The Mail and Empire (circulation 118,000) and absorbed it into The Globe under the new name, The Globe and Mail. His startling life story, and his suicide at 47, are described by Robert Fulford here.

Cigarettes Cost More than Hospitals, Doctor Says

“Although one out of every thirteen Canadians goes to hospital every year, the average man spends far more on cigarettes than he does on hospitalization, Dr. G. Harvey Agnew of Toronto told the health bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade in a luncheon address today.”

The talk was covered in the Province on February 24, 1939 (Page 1). “The cost of hospitalization is high to the individual,” Agnew said, “but the actual cost to a family over a period of years is very small compared with the amount spent on non-essentials, such as cigarettes and entertainments.

“Dr. Agnew, as president of the American Hospital Association and the department of hospital service, Canadian Medical Association, reviewed the development of hospital care insurance, pointing out that it was impossible for the average man to budget for hospital treatment as he does for rent. In Canada there were approximately 80,000 persons in hospital on any average day, and the total cost of hospital maintenance was approximately $60 million.

“Hospital insurance aims at spreading the cost of hospital treatment over the year so that the patient could pay when he was well, rather than during sickness. Various schemes of insurance had shown tremendous growth during the past seven or eight years, particularly in the United States.”

Vancouver Equal to Most Ports

“Vancouver's port facilities are equal to the most modern in the British Isles, members of the Foreign Trade Bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade were told at a luncheon Friday in Hotel Vancouver by G. McBean, assistant manager of the Canadian Transport Company. He had just returned from Europe, reported the Sun for February 11, 1939 (Page 26).

“‘The docks in most United Kingdom ports are a shock,’ Mr. McBean declared. ‘There are few natural harbors and most ports are on inland rivers. Small locks, tugs and lack of room add immensely to the cost of loading and unloading.’ Giant electric cranes in one port are forced to keep pace with horse-drawn wagons, which are still used to move freight away from the docks, he said.

“‘I didn't see anything in any British port that was superior to our own Ballantyne Pier in Vancouver. Ballantyne is a great credit here to our harbor board.’”

Mr. McBean described the effects of the recent crisis on European countries during his last visit. ‘It would be putting it mildly to call it a “panic,”’ he said. ‘Business was at a complete standstill in England. The country was apparently totally unprepared for the crisis. Distribution of gas masks was not completed until five days after the crisis had passed. Most of the population would have caught pneumonia if an air raid had forced them into the open-air graves that were being dug in every park.’ [Note: the Second World War was still seven months away, but many people in Europe thought it was imminent, so the “crisis” referred to was likely linked to that.]

‘Germans Disposed Toward British’

“Belgium was one of the most upset countries during the crisis, apparently fearing German reprisals for her part in the World War, Mr. McBean said. ‘There was less talk of war in Germany than anywhere else. The people there seemed very favorably disposed toward the British people and many scoffed at the idea of war. Most Germans are more interested in their own economic welfare than in war. Many expressed the feeling that the sooner Germany gets out of the hands of the present political regime the better for everybody. I am convinced that if Germany involves Britain in war, it will be against the wishes of the German people.”

‘A Few Pop Guns’

In the March 27, 1939 Sun (Page 2) Vancouver’s Mayor Lyle Telford, who was in Ottawa, rapped the city’s defenses of Vancouver. ‘We have a few pop guns in the parks,’ he said, ‘but we would be lucky if they did not kill the men who were trying to fire them. I'm not a military man, but I will say this: Any defenses will have to start, not on the shore, but away out in the Pacific.”

“Present coast defenses here,” the Sun commented, “are based on heavy fortifications on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Johnstone Strait, already installed and designed to deal with any attempt to invade B.C. coast waters with large naval forces. Local batteries are for protection against small craft which may slip past the heavy forts and approach the city. The guns installed in Vancouver by the Department of National Defense so far are two six-inch coast defense rifles in Stanley Park. They are placed as an ‘examination battery’ to cover the activities of harbor patrol boats examining incoming vessels in time of war. Similar batteries are projected for Point Grey and Point Atkinson.”

Record Number of Tourists Predicted

“Thousands of requests for information about British Columbia,” said the Sun for March 27, 1939 (Page 2), “and the first trickling flow of visitors from Eastern Canada and the United States bring predictions that an all time record number of tourists will visit the province this year.

“Provincial government and local tourist officers, railway and steamship executives, airline officials and hotel men estimate the industry this year will be worth more than the $30 million to $32 million spent by visitors to British Columbia in 1938.

“They list these principal items on the credit side of the tourist ledger:

  1. The proposed visit of the King and Queen, which will start the tourist influx at least two weeks earlier than usual.
  2. Widespread advertising of provincial tourist attractions in newspapers, magazines and travel publications.
  3. The general westward movement of the United States to the international Exposition at San Francisco—where British Columbia has an exhibit—with an expected return flow of travellers through Canada.

700,000 Last Year

“Major J. Gordon Smith, Commissioner of the British Columbia Travel Bureau, declines to estimate how many tourists will come to the province this season but says ‘all factors point to a bigger summer’ than last year, when about 700,000 visitors came to British Columbia.

“Many thousands of inquiries about British Columbia tourist attractions are handled by his office weekly. G. I. Warren, publicity commissioner for Victoria, says there will be ‘a tremendous move north’ this year, and in addition thousands of prairie visitors will visit the city.

“Cars entering British Columbia from the United States totalled 108,423 at the four principal points of entry in the southern coast district in 1938. They brought 348,158 passengers, said (illegible) Hutchison, secretary manager for the Vancouver Tourist Association. ‘A big share of our business in Vancouver comes from the Prairies, too,” Hutchison says. “Last year we had 100,000 Prairie visitors—26,000 from Edmonton alone, and 14,000 from Regina."

By the end of summer, he estimates his bureau will have answered 250,000 inquiries from prospective tourists. While the Golden Gate Exposition will have some effect on tourist business this year, Hutchison says its ‘greatest value’ will be in long-term publicity.

Rooms Booked

“Hutchison says hotel executives have told him their rooms have been booked from the time of the Royal visit to autumn. ‘Travel prospects have never been better," according to G. A. McNicholl, general passenger agent for Canadian National Railways in Vancouver. Bookings for 16 Alaska voyages by CNR ships are ahead of last year.

“The new Tweedsmuir Park, in the central coast district, will draw a ‘goodly number’ of tourists this summer, he says. Canadian Pacific Railway spokesmen feel 1939 will be a ‘fair year.’ They plan 22 Alaska sailings and many day trips in coast waters during a ‘busy summer.’ Bus lines expect business to equal or ‘slightly exceed’ that of 1937, previous record year for motor coach transportation.

“Air travel has been given a fillip by the Trans-Canada Air lines establishment of Vancouver-Montreal passenger service. Other major lines expect heavy tourist business.”

Mining Profit Made During Peace

“The Great War brought no great or permanent prosperity to the mining industry of British Columbia or any other part of the world, and a new war would be even less beneficial on the whole, it was declared by Dr. Harry V. Warren of the University of British Columbia, at a luncheon meeting of the mining bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade on Tuesday.” That was the lead in a Sun story on March 29, 1939 (Page 22).

“‘The real profits of mining are in peace and not in war,’ he said. ‘Canada would make a better contribution to peace by making some sacrifices in peace time by denying to predatory countries the metals they need to stock up for future war. ‘The British Empire, United States and Russia, if they earnestly wanted peace, could ensure it by shutting off the supply of all materials that might be used in war. This is because no nation in the world is self-sufficient in war materials, and even colonies could not make it so.

Short of Needs

“‘Even if Germany was given back all her former colonies she would still be far short of her war needs in wheat, copper and especially petroleum. If only the oil supply of Japan was shut off by all other nations the doings in China would quickly collapse.

“‘Even the British Empire and the United States are neither of them self-sufficient. We must abandon narrow nationalism in the world of today and depend on international trade for a return of reasonable prosperity. It is all "eyewash" to say that they could do this and that. Canadians should be a little less glib about appeasement,’ Dr. Warren said.

“Returning to his original thesis he declared that cold historical statistics show that no country's mineral industry ever profited in the end from any war. In the last war prices of some of the base metals in British Columbia boomed for a time, but demand soon fell off and the price clock at the end of the war had been set back twenty years or more.

“Dr. Warren termed talk of sanctions as ‘smug hypocrisy.’ History showed that in a year or so before the last war Canada supplied Germany with enough nickel for her needs in the four years of war. Other countries made comparable sales of other commodities even in the six months during which the whole world knew that war was imminent. There was trading with Germany in war supplies even after the war started.

“‘It is foolish to talk of sanctions if we are not prepared to pay the price which would make them unnecessary when war actually breaks out. Canada and the United States, by preaching peace but supplying war materials, and by preaching that they would stay at home if war broke out, are actually menacing peace,” Dr. Warren said.

250,000 Miles a Month

The March 1, 1939 Province (Page 24) reported on a speech given today by William A. Straith, chief flying instructor for Trans-Canada Airlines. He told The Board's transportation and customs bureau at a luncheon meeting at the Hotel Vancouver that a quarter of a million miles a month is the astonishing total which pilots will roll up in flying the regular schedule of the continent-spanning mail and express service which opens today.

“The schedule includes one round-trip a day between Vancouver and Montreal, two round-trips daily between Lethbridge and Edmonton, one round-trip between Montreal and Toronto via Ottawa and North Bay, and two round-trips between Vancouver and Seattle. Mr. Straith mentioned also that the schedule had been recently extended to include daily service between Vancouver and Victoria.

“Vancouver's airport won high praise from the chief instructor, who spoke in warm terms of the foresight and skill which had gone into its selection and development, and of the fact that adequate facilities for landing planes are maintained at this terminal.”

Need to Keep British Market

“British Columbia's embattled fruit industry—faced with the twin-problem of increased production and diminished markets--yesterday sought Vancouver's aid in its fight to retain what is left of this province's preferential market in the British Isles.

“E. J. Chambers, of Vernon, president of the Associated Growers of British Columbia Limited, made the plea,” said the Province on March 25, 1939 (Page 35), “at the regular luncheon meeting of the foreign trade bureau, Vancouver Board of Trade, at Hotel Vancouver. If anything happens that we lose our position in that market, the situation of the British Columbia fruit producer will, to say the least, be very, very serious,” said Mr. Chambers, who explained that Great Britain takes 90 per cent of British Columbia's exported apples.

“Mr. Chambers traced the development of the industry from its birth in 1910, when ‘there was a fear that British Columbia would never be able to produce enough apples to supply the markets,’ until now, when the domestic market has dwindled so alarmingly that it is necessary to sell 50 per cent of the crop abroad. He described the fruit farmer as ‘a manufacturer in partnership with nature,’ producing 7,500 carloads of apples in ‘a manufacturing season of four months,’ May 10 to September 10.

“Illustrating the narrow margin of profit that accrues to the farmer after his year of patient toil, he produced the following table of costs for the Board of Trade members:

Market value of 7,500 cars of apples......$8.5 million

Transportation costs................$2.5 million

Packing, storage, selling...........$3 million (This includes $750,000 on B.C.-made boxes)

Labor for picking, etc. .................$1.5 million

“On this basis the fruit farmer makes a profit of about twenty-five cents on each box of apples—he nets the price of a box of cigarettes.

Prairies May Help

“‘A return of prosperity to the prairies would change the picture,’ he said. ‘Until such happens we must export at least 50 per cent of the crop.’

“Mr. Chambers showed that exports had increased from 10 per cent of the crop in 1920 to 50 per cent of the crop this year, but in 1920 British Columbia produced only 2 million boxes of apples, whereas today the province grows the staggering total of 6 million. In other words, the growers are faced with the problem of marketing 3 million boxes of apples annually in a domestic market, which has been seriously curtailed by depression and prairie drought.

“Barriers against Canadian fruit have been erected all over the world and the United States has undermined BC’s former sales ground in Scandinavia. Even Australia places obstacles in the way of BC apples in order to protect its own fruit producers but, admitted Mr. Chambers, ‘we favor that—we would like to see that same principle adopted in our own country.’”

The Board gets the Old Hotel Clock

Said the Sun for April 13, 1939 (Page 10): “The clock which used to hang over the Georgia Street entrance of the old Hotel Vancouver was presented to the Vancouver Board of Trade at a farewell luncheon Wednesday, by W. J. Mylett, manager. [The ‘farewell’ was to the old hotel, the second in the city’s history.] ‘We want you to accept this clock as a token of our appreciation,’ said Mr. Mylett to the large assembly. ‘We hope it will keep time for you as well as it has kept time for us.’

“The clock was presented to the board at 1:20 p.m. It had stopped at 1 o'clock.”

90 Members Sail

“Pier C was a busy spot this morning,” reported the Sun on Monday, June 5, 1939 (Page 22), “as wives and other relatives and friends of ninety members of Vancouver Board of Trade bade them ‘bon voyage’ on the 21st annual board excursion, which this year takes them upcoast to Stewart and back by way of the West Coast of Vancouver Island on a nine-day outing.

“President G. Lyall Fraser and vice-president H. R. Cottingham headed the party that left at 10 a.m. on C.P.S.S. Princess Alice. The list represented a broad cross-section of the business and professional leaders of the city. ‘It is the most representative Vancouver party we have ever taken on an annual excursion,’ said Executive Secretary W. E. Payne.

The party will see the pulp and paper plants of Powell River and Ocean Falls; the mining plants of Portland Canal, including Big Missouri and Silbak-Premier, and later the great new camp at Zeballos; the varied fishing, lumbering and other activities of Prince Rupert and Port Alberni.”

A note: for reasons of length reports on this excursion, with a few exceptions, will be left out of our articles. Our focus remains the Metropolitan Vancouver area. Researchers wanting more data can check the Sun and the Province for the two weeks following June 5, 1939. These newspapers can be accessed on microfilm on the 5th floor of the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

An Alaskan Highway Proposal

“Strong arguments in favor of the routing of a highway to Alaska through British Columbia, as against Alberta proposals that the highway should be routed through the latter province, are advanced by the Vancouver Board of Trade in a brief submitted today to the British Columbia-Alaska Highway Commission.” That’s from the Sun for July 20, 1939 (Page 1).

“The Board of Trade's argument was supported by Vancouver Tourist Association which, through B. George Hansuld, a director, predicted the completion of the highway will make tourism the greatest industry of the Northwest. But Mayor C. E. Scanlon of Kamloops brought a new consideration before the commission, a plan to route the southern part of the highway through the central interior, by way of existing Okanagan roads, the North Thompson Highway and the Cariboo Highway.

“The commission opened its public hearing in Salon A, Hotel Vancouver at 10 a.m.

“The Vancouver brief, presented by G. Lyall Fraser, president of the Board of Trade, and Howard T. Mitchell, chairman of the joint committee of the mining, transportation and customs bureaus of the board, was based on these points:

  1. Proximity to the Pacific Coast should tend to lessen costs
  2. A north-south road in British Columbia would open areas in Northern B. C. now largely inaccessible, in which the potential mineral resources are comparable to those of the Northwest Territories where economical transportation is now provided by railway and river services
  3. Alaskan interest in the project, so vital to its satisfactory conclusion, will only be maintained if the route serves the more populous communities along the coast of Alaska
  4. Presumably designed in a large measure as a road which will develop tourist travel, a highway to Alaska will have more appeal if it runs through the world-famous scenic surroundings of British Columbia
  5. The selection of a British Columbia route does not preclude the possibility of Calgary, Edmonton and other prairie centres being more or less directly linked to this highway by existing or projected east-west communicating roads.

“Mr. Hansuld, speaking for the Tourist Association, said the building of the Alaska Highway through British Columbia by making tourism the greatest industry of the coast will establish a prosperity that will be reflected in all industries. ‘It will be as great a boon to the merchants of Alaska and the Yukon as the fabulous Klondike gold rush,’ he asserted.

“T. P. O'Kelly of Vancouver, president of the Monkman Pass Highway Association, presented a brief favoring the eastern, or Prince George route, through British Columbia. He cited climatic conditions on the northern coast to demonstrate that weather conditions on the western, or Hazelton route, west of the Cascades, would create enormous difficulties. In addition, he said, the terrain of the western route is much more difficult than that out of Prince George.”

More CP Ships, says MacMillan

The July 6, 1939 Province (Page 25) carried a report quoting H.R. MacMillan as saying BC needed two new transpacific Empress liners. He was speaking July 5 to The Board in an address at the Hotel Vancouver.

“He praised the present service as ‘the finest in the world,’ but said that development of Pacific trade and commerce and the recent attention on the China coast merited addition to the fleet. ‘I don't wish to make any invidious comparisons,’ he said, ‘but it seems to me that if we can afford this fine hotel in which we are gathered today, we can afford two new Empresses.’ [Note: the Hotel Vancouver, the present one, had opened May 24, so was just a month-and-a-half old.]

“On motion of Howard T. Mitchell,“ the Province continued, ”yesterday's meeting voted to revive the Associated Boards of Trade of British Columbia. Appeals had been made from the Island, Valley and interior, Mr. Mitchell said, and it was to Vancouver to take the initiative.

“Fifty-three new members were elected to the board at Wednesday's meeting, which was attended by more than 600 persons.”

September 1, 1939 Hitlerís Germany invades Poland. The Second World War begins.

Register Men and Money

In the first newspaper item about The Board we were able to find following the beginning of the Second World War, the Sun in its September 13, 1939 edition (Page 20) headlined Register Men, Money, Industry for Defense.

The Board’s Council at a special meeting the night before “went on record as in favor of national registration.” The resolution was sent to Prime Minister King; Dr. R.J. Manion, the leader of the Opposition, and Ian Mackenzie, Minister of Defense (and the MP for Vancouver Centre since 1930.) It urged that “the resources of Canada, to the uttermost of wealth, industry and manpower be placed at the disposal of the Empire in the defense of democratic institutions in the present war.”

“It also read,” said the Sun, “‘And be it further resolved that to such end there be inaugurated at once a system of national registration of all residents of the Dominion and of all other resources of the country in money, industry and material.’”

“Willing and Anxious to Serve”

The Board Council endorsed “the action of the Hon. Dr. R.J. Manion in joining forces with the government in the present emergency.” (Manion was, of course, a Conservative.) “‘We are confident,’ read the resolution, ‘that under our present leaders, political expediency will be subservient to prosecuting the war with the utmost vigor and determination, and the Vancouver Board of Trade pledges its support in this hour of national emergency.’

“G. Lyall Fraser, president of the board,” wrote the Sun, “declared the Empire is not at war with Germany on account of personal hatred or for territorial or other gain. We are at war with Germany to defend the British nations, our homes and our families from the fate that has befallen the Austrians, the Czechs, yes, even a majority of the German people themselves.

“Many of our members have, due to their previous service and experience, already been called to the colors. Others are members of the militia and have been mobilized. All the members of the board are, I am sure, willing and anxious to serve in whatever capacity their ability and experience best fits them.”

Ship Commandeered to Carry BC Lumber

“Evidence that Great Britain is determined to continue the purchase of British Columbia lumber in large quantities despite war hazards to shipping was driven home to exporters here today when it was learned that the British Government had commandeered a ship to carry lumber out of Port of Vancouver.” That was the lead in a September 30, 1939 story in the Sun (Page 24), that continued: “It is understood the ship will start loading lumber in the next couple of days. Name of the ship is not known, but it has been on the Pacific Coast for some time. It has not been learned how much lumber the ship will take.

“This is the first ship to be commandeered to haul lumber from British Columbia and exporters here expressed the opinion that the Timber Control Board in England is rapidly getting things in shape for a continuous movement of British Columbia lumber to the Old Country. (The fact that the Timber Control Board, with headquarters in Bristol, England, would supply ships to carry BC lumber was brought out exclusively by The Vancouver Sun on Wednesday.)

“Success of the board's plans will mean a great deal to the British Columbia lumber industry as the United Kingdom has been the greatest buyer of lumber from this province, taking an average of 80 million feet per month in the first eight months of this year, or about 65 to 70 per cent of all shipments.

Dire Need

Britain is in dire need of B.C. lumber, as she will not be able to import from the Scandinavian countries due to a blockage of the Baltic Sea, and is faced with the problem of building homes in rural areas of England to house between five million and seven million women and children who have been moved from the danger of bombing attacks in the densely-populated cities.

“At present, some of these people are being taken care of in private homes, but the British Government sees the necessity of a building program to provide proper accommodation for them. Lumber is also needed for further building in connection with national defense. It is understood that arrangements were made this week for a shipment of nine or ten million feet of lumber for the U.K., apart from that to go on the commandeered vessel, and exporters are of the opinion that total shipments for the full month of September will be not much more than 10 per cent lower than in August, when the United Kingdom took the record total of 127 million feet.

“Until exports hit their stride some of the mills—which are now operating from 65 per cent of capacity to 100 per cent capacity—may be forced to reduce operations as storage space will be overtaxed. This, however, would be but a temporary condition. Operations in the woods will undoubtedly be maintained for the next few months and there is the possibility of an increase in operations if business from the United Kingdom is what might be expected in view of that country's inability to import lumber from other countries.

9,000 Employed

“There are now about 9,000 loggers employed. Normal employment at this time of year is around 10,000. However, if three of the bigger logging companies—B. & K. Logging Co., Campbell River Lumber Co. and O'Brien Logging Co.—which have not resumed operations since the summer shut-down, decide to start up, work would be given to between 750 and 800 men, which would bring employment to about normal for this season of the year.

“What freight rates will be on lumber out of Vancouver to the U. K. when the board gets its plan under way can only be guessed at this time, but a rate of 100 to 125 shillings per thousand feet is thought probable, comparing with about 60 shillings in peace time. The rate will be subject to risk and the amount of tonnage available. Just at the time there is said to be but little tonnage available on the Pacific Coast for charter, the majority of those ships here already being booked up.

Submarines Not a Threat

“There has been some talk in Vancouver of the possibility of shipping lumber east by rail to the Atlantic coast, where it would be shipped to England, but exporters say that under present conditions there will be no necessity for such action, as ships leaving Vancouver will be able to travel down the Pacific Coast without convoy and through the Panama Canal and could be met by destroyers on the Atlantic. Thus far there has been no indication of ships being molested by submarines in the Pacific and there is little need for convoys.

“Some benefits are also seen for the BC shingle industry in the U. K., although 90 per cent of shingles from this province go to the United States. During the past year some 20 to 40 cars of BC shingles went to the U. K. each month, which is about a 5,000 per cent increase over such shipments five years ago. BC shingles have become increasingly popular in Scotland.”

$5 Million in Housing in 9 Months

The September 30, 1939 Sun (Page 25) reported that “more than $5 million worth of building has been authorized in Vancouver during the first nine months of this year. Figures released at City Hall today showed that $5,296,982 worth of building in 3,152 separate permits has been authorized. This included 885 homes, having a total value of $2,432,125. [Note: that works out to $2,748 per house.]

“During the first nine months of last year 2,792 permits, with a total value of $5,682,280, were issued, including 1,032 dwellings, valued at $2,945,685. This month, 287 permits, with a total value of $402,237, were issued, compared with 384 permits, valued at $503,670 last September.

“Eighty-two homes, valued at $198,690, were authorized this month, compared with 102 homes, valued at $307,500.

Retain the Men!

“With great business activity seemingly assured in the near future, owing to the need of war supplies of all kinds, the council of Vancouver Board of Trade has circularized its membership urging that, as far as possible, employees should be retained on payrolls during the temporary period of transition.

“Board president G. Lyall Fraser,” the Sun for September 30, 1939 (Page 25) reported, “voices his confidence that all board members are ready and willing to do their part in assisting to maintain normal community conditions and that their action will not only meet with the approval of all citizens, but will give a lead to others throughout Canada.

“President Fraser also assures members that active steps are being taken by the council, in co-operation with other organizations, to see to it that Vancouver and British Columbia get a full share of Canadian and British war contracts.”

No Time to Grumble

“Vancouver business men accepted the tax increases ordered in Canada's new budget without grumbling,” said the Province on September 13, 1939 (Page 21), “seeing in them an opportunity for everyone to help pay for the war.

“The new levies will make the cost of living higher for everyone in Canada, and hardly a business or industry has not been directly affected by the changes announced in the House of Commons by Revenue Minister J. L. Ilsley.

“However, the attitude of business is that in view of wartime conditions the changes had to come. The only serious protest so far has been from the tea and coffee trade, which claims that discrimination has been shown against their commodities.

“To most business leaders the budget was not unexpected in its general aspects. ‘It was no surprise to me,” commented Lyall Fraser, president of the Vancouver Board of Trade. ‘As a financial man I see no important defects in the budget. The thing that business men were chiefly anxious about was a threatened increase in the sales tax. It would have resulted in a great deal of costly and inconvenient readjustment. Fortunately, the sales tax has been left at its present level.

“Taxation of excess profits is based on a sound principle. Industry should be made to bear the burden of war as well as the troops.”

‘The Right Thing’

“‘Considering the nature of the job to be done, the budget strikes me as being the right thing,’ said H. R. MacMillan, prominent Vancouver exporter and manufacturer. As president of B. C. Packers Ltd., Canada's biggest fish-packing organization, he was interested in removal of the sales tax exemption from canned fish, but he said that in his opinion the canning industry should not feel entitled to exemption.

“‘Export salmon is not affected, but 40 per cent of the pack is sold in the Canadian market and will be subject to the tax,’ said Mr. MacMillan. ‘However, we aren't complaining. It is inevitable that under war conditions taxes should take a high proportion of our earnings, and this is no time to grumble about it. Our chief concern should be to see that the money raised by the government is well spent.’

Just the Beginning

“‘This is probably just the beginning,’ remarked Col. H. S. Tobin, vice-chairman of the B. C. division, Canadian Manufacturers' Association, who as head of one of the city's biggest brewing and distilling organizations, represents a business directly affected by the new tax setup. ‘Everyone must realize that we've got to pay for the war as well as fight for it,’ said Col. Tobin. ‘We've got to carry on, and "business as usual" should be the slogan. I'm all in favor of excess war profits, taxes and conscription of capital. If Canada's lives are going to be sacrificed, her capital should be sacrificed, too.’”

B.C. Electric Affected

“B.C. Electric Railway is another big company affected by the tax,” the Province continued, "inasmuch as gas and light charges are to be levied upon under the sales tax. W. G. Murrin, president of B. C. Power Corporation and subsidiary companies, said the change would mean that the business office of B. C. Electric would have to change its entire system of bookkeeping, but that it was regarded as a war measure.

“‘Canada is at war,’ said Mr. Murrin, ‘and if the government in its wisdom decides on this particular method to raise funds, we must co-operate to the limit of our ability.’”

Great Tourist Year Forecast

The Second World War wasn’t daunting Dr. G.H. Worthington. In a talk reported on in the September 25, 1939 Province (Page 17) he declared that “unless the Canadian Government enacts regulations making it difficult for American tourists to enter Canada, 1940 will be the biggest tourist year in the Dominion's history.” He made that prediction in a luncheon talk to the advertising and sales bureau of the Board of Trade at the Hotel Georgia.

“Dr. Worthington, who is president of the Evergreen Playground Association and vice-president of the Canadian Association of Tourist and Publicity Bureaus, pointed out that if the war continues great numbers of tourists who ordinarily visit other countries will come to Canada.

“‘Unquestionably there will be a great decline in tourist travel to countries that may be neutral,’ he said. ‘South America can be reached only by boat or plane—it takes at least three weeks to reach Rio de Janeiro by boat from New York—and Mexico is too hot for summer travel. Canada will therefore be the goal.’

“United States residents, the speaker said, are the most ‘travel-minded’ people in the world. In 1938, of the six billion dollars they expended on vacation travel, $264 million was spent in Canada and $25 million in British Columbia.”

The Board Urges Gifts to the Empire

“Besides selling goods to Great Britain for war purposes, Canada should pursue a generous policy of giving to the Empire, the Vancouver Board of Trade contends in a resolution passed by the council this week and which is being communicated to Prime Minister Mackenzie King, cabinet members, B. C. federal members and various trade organizations throughout the Dominion.”

So began a story in the September 30, 1939 Province (Page 35 ). “We propose the adoption of a principle and a policy rather than a detailed plan,” states the board in an explanatory letter sent to business organizations. “It is probable, however, that the simplest method of giving effect to this scheme would be in the granting of credits by the Canadian Government to the Imperial Government for the purchase of supplies in Canada, to be used as desired up to a specified total value.

“This would be in addition, of course, to the heavy purchases which Great Britain is planning to make in Canada for war materials and supplies. The cost would be borne by our country as a whole through general taxation rather than by any individual industries or areas in Canada.

Patriotic Duty

“The Vancouver Board of Trade feels that it is Canada's patriotic duty to make the maximum possible contribution toward the winning of a war in which the future of the British Empire and, in fact, all democracy is at stake. It was felt by the council that the proposed voluntary contributions by Canada to the Imperial Government, pending the furnishing of strong military assistance, would be a gesture greatly heartening the British people.

“It would unquestionably be a practical evidence to the world of Empire solidarity and would add to the goodwill existing between the two principal nations of the British Commonwealth—a goodwill, incidentally, which Canada has enjoyed for years in terms of preference given to Canadian products in the British market at a time when other world markets were closing to the Dominion.

“Whatever voluntary contribution to the British cause Canada can afford to make will be particularly appreciated at this time when the British taxpayer has shouldered the greatest tax burden in British history in order to defend a war front which is Canada's front quite as much as Britain's.”

BC Goods for Public Contracts

The October 11, 1939 Province headline on Page 21 today read: BOARD OF TRADE URGES B.C. GOODS FOR PUBLIC CONTRACTS.

“The Board of Trade council, at the instance of the B. C. Products Bureau,” the story continued, “has written to the Provincial Government, City Council, Park and School Boards and Institute of Architects, urging that the products of B. C. factories and farms be specified in the granting of contracts.

“In the case of the Provincial Government, British Columbia manufacturers and producers have always received, and continue to receive, splendid support, the bureau reports. Provincial Government bids specify that all material and supplies used in and about the construction of works shall be manufactured in the province. The B. C. Products Bureau would like to see this policy extended to all bodies spending public moneys. Particularly is such a policy needed now. British Columbia has a notable record both for the quality and price of the products produced.

“It has been pointed out in the communications which have been forwarded to governing bodies that a large section of the buying public, as a result of long years of intensive campaigning on the part of the bureau, is definitely sold on the value of B. C. products and give practical evidence of their loyalty by an ever-increasing preferment.”

Good Wages = Spending Power

“Good business conditions can not exist in a low-paid community, said Percy R. Bengough, vice-president of the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada, addressing a crowded meeting of Vancouver Board of Trade at Hotel Vancouver, Wednesday, October 18, 1939 (Page 21). The Province gave the talk brief attention the next day.

“Speaking on the aims of labor in relation to business,” the paper continued, “Mr. Bengough declared war-time needs could best be satisfied by keeping business in a healthy condition. ‘You can not have good business without spending power,’ he said, ‘and you can not have spending power unless you pay good wages.’”

The Board Makes a Good Suggestion

The Province for October 20, 1939 (Page 30) reported that “the Board of Trade’s recommendations to the Federal Government urging adoption by Canada of the principle and policy of assisting Great Britain in the war against Germany by regular and voluntary contributions of foodstuffs and supplies to the British forces, have met with a very wide response.

“Prime Minister Mackenzie King replied that careful note had been taken of the representations, which had already been referred to the proper officers of the government. [He] fully appreciates the emphasis which the board places upon voluntary contributions to the war effort of Great Britain.

“R. J. Manion [he was the Leader of the Opposition at the time] stated that he would be pleased to bear in mind the views of the board and in the meantime congratulates the board upon the very keen interest which it is showing in all matters relating to Canada's participation in the war . . . First responses received from boards of trade throughout Canada indicate unanimous support. Those heard from include St. John, N.B.; Kamloops, Medicine Hat, Vernon, Revelstoke, and Trail.”

Loggers at One Dollar a Day

“A timber country where waste is unknown,” wrote the Province on October 21, 1939 (Page 35), “where a sawmill cutting 25 million feet annually is regarded as one of the biggest, and where loggers cheerfully toil sixteen hours a day for a dollar, was described to the Vancouver Board of Trade's foreign trade bureau Friday at noon by Leon Koerner, president of the recently established Alaska Pine Company, New Westminster.

“Mr. Koerner, a newcomer to British Columbia's industrial life [Note: he came to Vancouver from Czechoslovakia in 1938] was formerly in charge of Czechoslovakia's state forest administration. ‘What I have to tell you about is a forest program that is no more,’ said Mr. Koerner regretfully. ‘What Czechoslovakia worked for many years to create has by this time been destroyed by war. Germany will wreck the Czech forests to serve her industrial demands.’

“Mr. Koerner told how Czecho-Slovakia, which he left only eleven months ago, had carefully and industriously developed its timbered areas so that they might yield maximum crops perpetually. As long ago as 1857 the first conservation plans had been adopted in the provinces then forming a part of the Austrian kingdom. When he left Europe the country's forests were owned by the state, communities and private holders in equal proportions.

“Lumbermen who listened to Mr. Koerner smiled when he told them of the modest requirements of the Czech loggers. ‘Most of them are farmers during a part of the year,’ he said. ‘Their standard of living is much lower than in this country. They take their own food into the woods—such things as corn flour and lard, and they work well and happily. Fallers work sixteen hours from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a dollar a day.’

“But all lumbermen's costs are not light. Stumpage is $10 to $20 a thousand, compared with an average in BC of less than $2. The mills operate with a minimum of waste. Materials that might go to the refuse burners in B. C. is made into boxes or sent to the pulp mills, and a variety of other by-products result from the industry.”

There is an excellent short biography of Dr. Koerner and his wife Thea here.

The Sun covered this story, too, on October 21 (Page 26).

Build Planes Here!

The Vancouver Board of Trade thought airplanes should be manufactured in British Columbia. The Sun issue of November 1, 1939 (exactly two months from the date of the invasion of Poland), Page 1, reports that The Board contended that “British Columbia has superior conditions and facilities for the economical manufacture of airplanes and is therefore entitled to every consideration in any plans for plane manufacturing in Canada.”

The brief, the Sun said, summarized the advantages the province possesses:

  1. Superior climatic conditions
  2. Ample sites available
  3. Abundance of raw materials
  4. Proximity of United States airplane manufacturing centres
  5. Capital available for plant building and airplane manufacturing
  6. More favorable construction costs and
  7. Availability of skilled labor

“Stress is laid on the fact,” the paper continued, “that ‘it is authentically reported’ that the use of wood construction has been adopted for training planes and certain types of bombers.

“It is pointed out that ‘huge tracts of "Sitka" spruce’, the best wood in the world for aircraft construction, are available in British Columbia and within easy reach of Vancouver. In fact, the only available sources of supply of airplane spruce are in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.”

“As to climate, it is contended that there is no section of the Dominion more favorably situated. Plants can be operated 12 months each year, with no extremes of weather and an average temperature of 50 degrees [F] above. Buildings can be constructed very cheaply requiring only normal heating, while outdoor work can be pursued throughout the year.

“Adequate sites are available near the civic airport and the city has already set aside much acreage for this purpose.

“The Boeing plant in Coal Harbor is the only one established here, but there are other companies whose present plants could be converted into airplane factories. However, it is the view of the board that in the event of an airplane industry being established, it should be in permanent buildings so that at the end of the war a peace-time program of construction for commercial purposes could be carried on. Building costs would be less here than in Eastern Canada.

“The United States recognizes that the Pacific Coast is the logical place for airplane construction. Approximately 90 per cent of U. S. airplane manufacture is west of the Rockies. The board has information that Canadian capital for plant building is readily available provided orders are forthcoming.

Skilled Men Here

“As to labor, it is pointed out that over 500 skilled men are now employed in airplane manufacture in the province and that these men would be available for training others. Plants here would have a distinct advantage in supplies in that, with the U. S. Neutrality Act likely to be changed, these supplies could be got readily from nearby U. S. plants.

“The Board of Trade brief is being sent by air mail to the War Supply Board at Ottawa, the British War Mission, Capt. Harold Balfour of the British Air Mission, Prime Minister Mackenzie King and all immediately interested members of the cabinet. Copies also go to Lloyd Craig, B. C. government representative for war orders at Ottawa; Hugh Dalton, executive secretary, B. C. Division of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, in Ottawa on the same mission; local and eastern heads of the RCAF; all Vancouver members of Parliament; provincial government; Brig. Gen. J. C. Stewart, DOC, and among many others, the airport committee of the City Council and its manager, William Templeton.

General Supply will win the War!

Said the Sun on November 24, 1939 (Page 5) “S. W. Fairweather, chief of research and development at Canadian National Railways, told the Transportation and Customs Bureau of the Board of Trade at a luncheon meeting today, that it may well be that the decisive factor in favor of the Allies will be their superior lines of communication to sources of food, munitions and supplies.”

Fairweather declared “that the railways of Canada form an important, if not a vital link, in the lines of communication of the Allies and he assured his audience they will not fail in the test. He made an interesting comparison between the railway systems of Russia and Canada for the reason, he said, that ‘the war may be determined on the industrial front by the comparative efficiency with which the natural resources served by Canadian and Russian railways can be used.

“‘Canada and Russia,’ he said, ‘are alike in possession of vast natural resources but unlike otherwise. You have the totalitarian Russian state against the Canadian democracy. You have Russia with one of the lowest per capita wealth productions in the world compared with Canada, which has one of the highest.

“‘You have, too, in Russia a country whose transportation system is inadequate, as compared with Canada, which has the most efficient railways in the world. Above all, you have exemplified in Russia the weakness of bureaucratic management and control as compared with sound business methods in Canada.

1 Canadian = 20 Russians

“‘I venture to say,’ continued Mr. Fairweather, ‘that, measured in terms of exportable goods, the labor of one man in Canada is as productive as the labor of twenty men in Russia.’

“He went on to show that while Canadian railways played an important part in the last war, they are infinitely better equipped to handle freight and passengers in this war. Instead of 80 and 85-pound steel, the main line standard today is from 100 to 130 pounds. The largest road freight locomotive in 1914 had a tractive effort of 52,000 pounds; today it is more than 90,000 pounds.*

“In 1914 it required eleven days for manifest freight to travel from Vancouver to Toronto; today it requires only seven days. Average capacity of a freight car in 1914 was thirty-three tons; today, forty-two tons.’

“Mr. Fairweather predicted closing of Europe to tourist traffic will result in an unprecedented number of U. S. travellers seeking recreation in Canada."

* [Note: Jim McGraw of the Vancouver Historical Society comments on the statistics quoted by Fairweather: “Today the average freight car capacity is anywhere from 100 to 120 tons. As for the steel, today the main line standard is 165 pounds and more per yard! That's 35 pounds more than the heaviest in the Second World War. And today a modern diesel-electric locomotive has a tractive effort of 200,000 pounds!”]

No War Orders!

We learn from The Province for November 1, 1939 (Page 27) that local manufacturers were puzzled by the lack of war orders. Charles L. Shaw, the paper’s Business Editor, wrote: “Now that the War Supply Board has formally taken charge of Canada's industrial mobilization for war, British Columbia manufacturers expect an early break in the long delay for orders.

“It is taken for granted by Coast industrialists that with the Empire facing the prospect of a long war, there will soon be an abundance of business for steel working plants and foundries, shipyards and a wide variety of other fabricating establishments. What they can not understand is the fact that after nearly two months of Canada's participation in the war practically no orders have come west of the Rockies.

Three Shifts Working

Financial Post, Toronto, reports: ‘Wheels in Canadian factories with orders for war supplies are now turning night and day. Three shifts are working to turn out goods required. Activity is specially marked in those plants making materials of which there is a shortage. From all sides come reports of plants of the heavy industries being prepared to begin manufacture of shells immediately. Skilled mechanics and tradesmen are becoming scarce.’

“So far, apart from lumber and metals which form a part of the province's normal trade with the United Kingdom, the only ‘war orders’ received here have been for boots and service uniforms, in a comparatively small quantity. While huge airplane contracts are being awarded elsewhere, Vancouver's only order, placed months ago, is now nearly completed. This industry's opportunity, so far neglected, is effectively described in a brief prepared by the Vancouver Board of Trade which is being given wide distribution today.

There has been delay in the East as well, but in Quebec and Ontario, industry has at least received considerable new business directly attributable to the war, even though it may be much less than had been anticipated and in negligible volume when compared with what is to come. Nevertheless, plants in the East have been active, which is more than can be said of the West.

A Striking Transformation

Charles Shaw, the Business Editor of The Daily Province, wrote an interesting column November 2, 1939 (Page 25). It told of how Canada’s industrial power had multiplied since the First World War.

“Canada's role in the war industry,” he wrote, “has undergone striking transformation since the last conflict. In 1914 this country had one great dominating industry--wheat. Canada was regarded then, as she is now, as the granary of the Empire; but in the past twenty years Canada has become far more than that.

“In its current review the Royal Bank of Canada surveys Canada's industrial contribution in the last war and indicates how the nation's part in the present struggle may be tremendously broadened.

“Canada's wheat farmers did accomplish some amazing things in the 1914-18 era. In 1914 crop was sown to some10 million acres and a crop of 161 million bushels was harvested. Owing to war demand the acreage was increased to 15 million the following year; with a crop of 393 million bushels. This was the first of Canada's big crops. Since then acreage and harvest have varied, but this year's acreage is the second largest on record—26,771,000 acres and the total crop will not be much less than half a billion bushels.

“But, as the bank points out, wheat no longer is Canada's sole dominating product. Her mining and manufacturing industries have achieved world importance in the past two decades. War power depends largely on metals, and the expansion of Canadian output of such products since 1918 has been spectacular. Take gold, for instance. In 1914 Canada produced 773,000 fine ounces of gold; valued at about $15 million. Since then the price of gold has risen from $20.67 per ounce to $35, but the increase in volume alone has been noteworthy. Canada will probably mine 5 million ounces this year—seven times the production of 1914. Estimated value of Canada's gold output this year is set at $175 million.

Nickel Essential

“Nickel has many peace-time uses, but in war it is essential. In the first year of the last war Canada produced $13,650,000 worth of the invaluable metal; last year the value was more than four times as great. Copper production in Canada has increased sevenfold in the past twenty-five years—from 76 million pounds, valued at $10 million, to 586 million pounds, worth $58 million. Lead output is twelve times as great—419 million pounds, worth $14 million, as compared with 36 million pounds, valued at $1,008,000, in 1914. Zinc has risen from 22 million pounds, valued at $262,000, to 381 million pounds, worth nearly $12 million. And nearly all Canada's lead and zinc comes from British Columbia.”

Canada’s Wheat at War!

The November 29, 1939 Province (Page 27) told us that Canada’s huge wheat harvest had given us “vital” war status.

The Canadian Press today reported out of Winnipeg that “Canada with wheat stocks currently estimated at 400 million bushels, today assumed a key position as a source of supply for the Allies as Britain and France fought the menace of German sea warfare. At the start of the war," CP continued, "wheat exports to the United Kingdom dwindled to the mere odd shipment, but at that time authoritative sources expressed the opinion that Britain planned to maintain the Canadian stocks as a reserve supply.

“On Monday and Tuesday, Winnipeg Grain Exchange dealings revealed, the United Kingdom and neutral countries' buyers dipped into the Dominion's overflowing wheat bins with nearly 10 million bushels of wheat and flour worked for overseas shipment. Export sales today totalled more than 7 million bushels with wheat values at Winnipeg increasing more than two cents a bushel in the futures market.

Canada's proximity to Europe has a marked advantage over the long routes from Australia and the Argentine. Adding to the importance of the Dominion's supplies are developments in the Argentine where unfavorable harvesting weather has deteriorated the new crop, and poor prospects in the United States winter wheat belt after many weeks of drought conditions.

“Sea warfare has added to the cost of wheat shipments from the Argentine with sharp increases in freight and war risk rates in recent days.

Woodward on War Supply Board

One of British Columbia’s leading retailers was in the news on December 8, 1939.

From the Sun, datelined Ottawa: “Hon. C.D. Howe, transport minister, has announced the appointment of William C. Woodward of Vancouver as a member of the War Supply Board.”

[The War Supply Board succeeded the Defence Purchasing Board. It would “continue the task of organizing and mobilizing the nation's resources and industries, and dealing with the problems involved in the handling of supplies, the construction and extension of defence projects, and the approval of contracts for equipment and supplies required by all three branches of our armed forces.”]

The appointment of Woodward had been strongly urged by The Board. The Sun’s story commented that the choice “was hailed by Vancouver business and industrial leaders as an ‘ideal choice’ and as a triumph for the Board of Trade which, several weeks ago, sent a comprehensive brief to Ottawa outlining the claims of British Columbia for direct representation.

“G. Lyall Fraser, president of the Board of Trade, said the choice of Mr. Woodward culminated an intense campaign sponsored by the board, and it was a matter of congratulation that Ottawa had recognized British Columbia’s claims . . . With Mr. Woodward at Ottawa the gap between Vancouver and the Federal Government has been closed, and we can look forward to the future with confidence.”

The Sun story concluded: “The Vancouver merchant, who was educated here and got his start in business forty years ago as a junior clerk in the Royal Bank (of which he is now a director), knows war work well. He was overseas from 1916-1919 with the C.E.F. [Canadian Expedition Force]

“In addition to being president of Woodward’s here and in Edmonton, he is vice-president of Neon Products of Western Canada; director of the Union Steamship Co., and Royal Bank, and a past president [1929] of the Board of Trade.”

[He was also, of course, the father of Charles “Chunky” Woodward. In 1941 he became Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, a post he held until 1946.]

The Board thanks Ottawa

The day after Woodward’s appointment to the War Supply Board, the executive of the Vancouver Board of Trade registered its pleasure and satisfaction at his appointment in a series of telegrams to Ottawa. The Sun story (December 9, 1939, Page 3) said: “A message to Hon. C. D. Howe, Minister of Transport and cabinet member in charge of the War Supply Board, thanked him warmly for his keen interest in the representations of the Board of Trade, as evidenced in several inquiries for added information which resulted in the decision to add a western man to the board.

“Howe was assured that the services of the Vancouver board are entirely at his disposal in any way they can cooperate. The Hon. Ian Mackenzie, British Columbia representative in the cabinet, was also thanked for his good offices in pressing for the appointment.

“The message of congratulation to Mr. Woodward himself was coupled with warm thanks of the council and membership of the Board of Trade for his public-spirited acceptance of the onerous and very responsible position which means that Mr. Woodward has withdrawn from active participation in business for the duration of the war. He was assured that the board will cooperate with him in every possible way.”

1940 Good for Tourism?

The December 14, 1939 Province (Page 29) announced a new tourist travel bureau.

“With indications pointing to a big influx of tourists into British Columbia in 1940, the transportation and customs bureau of the Vancouver Board of Trade set up on Wednesday a new tourist travel and traffic committee of representative business men. The committee, which will hold its first meeting shortly after Christmas, will co-operate with other groups in planning the celebrations which will mark the opening of the Big Bend Highway next midsummer. It hopes also to secure for British Columbia its fair share of both the United States tourist business expected to come to Canada because of the stoppage of European and the limitation of Oriental travel, and the traffic from other parts of the Dominion caused by the adverse U. S. exchange rate, as well as by the restriction of ocean travel.

“R.M. Pidgeon is chairman. Aviation and other representatives are still to be appointed.”

What else was happening locally in 1939?

For a once-over-lightly look at the history of The Vancouver Board of Trade, go here.

Next: 1940 »















































































Ira Dilworth (photo:
Ira Dilworth




























































Ballantyne Pier today (photo:
Ballantyne Pier today

















Mayor Lyle Telford
Mayor Lyle Telford











































































































Mmm! Apples (photo:
Mmm! Apples




























































The Alaska Highway (photo:
The Alaska Highway



































































Robert James Manion, PC leader
Robert James Manion, PC leader

































































































































































Mackenzie King
Mackenzie King














































































































Boeing PBY Canso (photo:
Boeing PBY Canso



































































































































































































Official opening of the Big Bend Highway at Boat Encampment, B.C., June 29, 1940 (photo:
Official opening of the Big Bend Highway at Boat Encampment, B.C., June 29, 1940