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HISB41H3 Lecture Notes - 1918 Flu Pandemic

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C Pennington

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The Troubled Twenties, 1919-29
2:05 PM
-period in which the country remains traumatized by WWI
-emotional toll of war tolled heavily on Canadians; never experienced large volume of
deaths in one war
-very few Canadians did not know anyone who died in the war
-desire for things to go back to normal: conservative impulse
-relative full employment during the war
-Canadian government did poor job of helping surviving soldiers transition back into
regular life
-in the USA 1920s was a era of economic growth, contrary to Canada [Troubled
-1926 is when country recovered from post-war recession
-brief economic boom before the Great Depression
The Spanish Influenza (1918-19):
-thought to have first emerged in Spain
-estimated 21 million died worldwide (~50,000 Canadians died) Department of Health
created in 1919
-spread by soldiers [tended to be kept in close quarters for long periods of time]
-caused overreaction by immune system
-young strong healthy people most severely affected by the flu
-old people generally faired better
-many soldiers who had managed WWI came home only to be killed by influenza
-alerted Canadians that there was no national strategy to cope with outbreak
Winnipeg General Strike, May-June 1919
-when done well, an organized strike can effectively shut down particular sector of city
-labour prospered during the war; wages rose substantially
-considerable government suspicion of unions; seemed unpatriotic
-many Eastern Europeans who had come to Canada and who were active in the union
-beginning of May building and welding workers of the city went out on strike against
their employers
-primary concern being right of collective bargaining
-employers were not willing to grant collective bargaining
-May 15, 1919 after a vote a general strike was called
-expected that most of the union workers would go out on strike
-approximately 25,000 people went on strike in support of the building and welding
-whole city effectively shut down

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-strikers coordinated central strike committee (15 members)
-idea was to make sure essential services were still provided
-"Do nothing. Just eat sleep, pray, love, play, and watch the sun set."
-allow profits of the businesses of the cities to halt
-citizens committee of 1,000 formed in response to strike committee, bent on defeating
the strike
-citizens committee depicted the strike as the beginning of a communist conspiracy to
overthrow the government of Canada
-citizens committee created the newspaper The Citizens
-increasing tension between two committees
-response of government was unsympathetic to workers
-a week before the strike came to its bloody conclusion, many leaders of the strike were
arrested and deported
-June 21, 1919 government responded with currently assembled special constables and
RCMP to break up the strike
-"Bloody Saturday": 2 people were killed and 30 injured approximately
-Winnipeg went back to business as usual
-unions were severely weakened
-unions across the country affected
-government of Manitoba commissioned royal commission to investigate the strike;
findings found that strike was not bent on revolution, citizens committee largely
-20s were difficult for labour
Arthur Meighen (1874-1960)
-noted as one of the best debaters
-Borden felt that Meighen was too narrow-minded; lacked broad-minded to appreciate
what was good about the other side of the argument
-the 'attack dog'
-Thomas White was asked to be prime minister by Borden, refused
-Meighen well liked in the Conservative party
-not destined to serve long-term
-great rival was William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King
-born in Berlin, ON
-born in middle-class family with one claim to fame: grandfather was William Lyon
Mackenzie, the leader of rebellion in 1770s
-felt he would encourage positive change in Canada
-attended several prominent schools
-graduate of the University of Toronto and Harvard
-eventually earned a Ph. D in 1909; only Canadian prime minister to have a Ph. D

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-became wealthy and well-known around North America as a negotiator
-King knew how to make compromise between two opposing parties
-worked for large U.S. companies working out labour disputes
-had a relatively positive view of the U.S.
-opposed conscription during WWI; went over well with Quebec
-King would serve as party leader from 1919-1948
-prime minister 1921-26, 1926-30, 1935-48
-not a charismatic figure
-was not a good speaker
-King did not like to be pinned down to any specific policy
-was not personally popular; defeated in his riding several times
-great talent for compromise and conciliation
-good political instincts
-good at keeping Liberal party united, exposed weaknesses in Conservative party
-good at managing people
-consistently re-elected
-Conservatives constantly associated with war, economic downturn
-King proved to be figure of national unity
-"He divided us least."
-prime ministers should not be judged by what they achieve, but what they prevent
King's 'Very Double Life'
-didn't have close friends
-lifelong bachelor
-when he won the Liberal leadership in 1919, he did not have anyone he could tell that
he won the leadership
-kept a diary which he wrote in every day
-diary was a constant companion
-wrote every thing down in the diary
-wrote about inner thoughts, feelings
-King had a lasting interest in a cult; connecting with the deceased
-greatly admired his mother
-best friend was his dog Pat
-when dog died, King was shaken and cancelled Cabinet meeting to sing to his dog
-reporters gave King a bronze statue of the dog
-bought an identical dog he named Pat
-enjoyed constructing ruined buildings into structures
Canadian Politics in the 1920s
-King Vs. Meighen bitter rivalry
-great measures or great accomplishments
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