Febr 3 2014
Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the prime minister from 1896 to 1911 and was lucky enough tor be in
charge during a transformative period which included the development of the western provinces.
He was also big on finding what he called the ‘sunny way’ which was supposed to be the happy
medium between two opposing force but usually resulted in those force being equally unhappy
(the French and English interests).
Immigration during this period was huge, almost 5 million people came to CND up until 1921,
though 88% of CND was still French or English speaking. Internal migration was also shifting,
more people were moving to Ontario and the west while many people in Qc and the Maritimes
were leaving CND.
In 1905 on September 1 Laurier brought Alberta and Saskatchewan into existence (hereafter
AB and SK respectively). These new provinces were however to be ‘junior’ partners in
confederation, which really just means that the federal government didn’t want them to have
control over their own resources (mostly land, this was to avoid unruly settlement) and it was
cited as being necessary for the Nations well-being. In 1930 AB and SK got these rights back
and then 1947 oil was found in Leduc.
The Naval Question and Free Trade
The Naval Service Bill of 1910 was rather unpopular in the West and QC, they didn’t see the
need for CND to have a navy but the Maritimes really need one. Up until this point CND had
relied on Britain to secure its coast line, the compromise that Laurier made was that CND would
make the ships for a navy and Britain would staff and run it for them. It was called the Tin Pot
Navy (derogatory, first paragraph of Wiki site is accurate and the page provides addition
information if curious, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Service_Bill )
Robert Borden became PM in 1912 and he won this through his “ No truck nor trade with the
Yankee” policy, which was in essence a promise to keep the tariff on American materials high so
as to force CND farmers to buy expensive CND farm implements. Former PM Laurier had been
trying to lower the tariffs to gain support in the prairies.
Urbanization and Social Reform
In this time period populations across CND rose tremendously.
City Growth between 1901-21
Winnipeg Biggest city in West The Big Five Out West were Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Regina, and Saskatoon, all of which
during this same time period grew large enough to have economic muscle. This rapid growth
though left civil engineers scrambling trying to build enough infrastructure to support it. As a
result there were several out breaks of disease due to poor living conditions. For example in one
decade Edmonton grew from 3000 people to 72, 000 people.
This emerging pattern of urban development, where people who had previously bought land
and had sat on it, ended up as the elite of western cities when land became scarce and prices
rose (think of PEI Land Issue). The myth that had attracted so many to the west, that frontier life
wiped out class difference was just a story, and many people found that class realities were well
cemented in society. The city of Strathcona was amalgamated into Edmonton in 1912.
World War and the Fight to Preserve Democracy
In 1913 there was nation wide economic uncertainty which was removed when war was
declared as most men enlisted in the army and the remaining men and women had their pick of
jobs, which resulted in almost full employment by 1915. This also allowed Big Labour to flex
some muscle. This near full employment renewed the confidence of the working classes and
lead to many employer complaints. Despite the improved situation workers grievances