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Lecture 12

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History 1810E
Margaret Mc Glynn

History 1810E Wednesday February 12 Lecture 12 Canada As It Was (The Reality) Outline: I. The Spanish Flu II. The Years of Labour Turmoil III. Grief IV. Dashed Hopes V. A World of Noise The Spanish Flu • Ended the celebrations over the victory of the war • The major outbreak was in 1918 • Worldwide it killed up to 50 million people (about 50,000 in Canada, about the same number of casualties as in the war) • It is called “the Spanish Flu” because they believed the first confirmed cases came from Spain (but they actually came from China) • It was spread to North America with soldiers coming back from Europe (where it spread so quickly) • It spread so easily because there were hundreds of thousands of males packed into camps o This magnified it from a minor to a major outbreak • It brought a new range of government controls: o Curfews o Public gatherings are prohibited o Schools and churches were closed o They tried to cancel Armistice Day parades o Some workplaces were closed (but in most workplaces they just wore surgical masks) The Years of Labour Turmoil • The labour movement had hoped that the war would bring a classless society • War is generally great for the economy o By 1916 there was no unemployment – if anything there was a shortage of workers o Demand for skilled workers went up o Union membership went up • As wages were going up, prices were also increasing o The average wage went up about 45% during the war, but the average household costs went up about 50% o Though workers were making more, their new wage bought less • Labour unrest started in 1917 o It was a record year in the number of strikes o 1 million days lost in productivity (in virtually every industry) • It could have been worse: 1. Union leadership was conservative, and they were willing to accept that they had to win the war before fighting capitalism 2. Organized labour was reluctant to organize women (the fastest growing sector of the industrial workforce)  They didn’t like to see women growing into industrial jobs, because they weren’t protected by wage legislation (and therefore it drove wages down for everyone) • Because the labour trouble was put off, the pressure continued to grow throughout 1917 and 1918, and became more serious with the Russian Revolution, which knocked Russian out of the war and created ‘Red Scare’ o Germany was no longer the enemy – now the enemy was the international workers movement (they talked about abolishing private property and building a worker’s paradise) o Radical workers groups emerged around the world  These groups were especially powerful in Canada in the Western provinces because there were labour leaders from the U.S. who brought an aggressive spirit, and new British immigrants with European socialist traditions (in a radical form)  For years their union leaders have been telling them to beat the Germans first in the war, and now that the war was over, they began to push for the benefits that had been put off for years (better wages, better conditions, job security) • For management, the end of the war meant that things would return to normal (low wages, poor working conditions, poor job security) • In the summer of 1919, these two sides came together in the Winnipeg General Strike o There were 420 strikes altogether in 1919 o Management was determined to crush the labour movement, and they were pretty successful o Union membership dropped again after the war (employers and the government made it difficult to be a member of a union) • Ethnic Tolerance: The idea was that it was foreigners behind all of these labour problems – the immigrants became the scapegoats o Regardless of what was said during the war, new Canadians were not equal partners (they were still targets of racism) o Example: A sculptor named Emanuel Hahn (he created the Canadian quarter and dime) was a German immigrant who moved to Canada in the 1890s and was embraced by society in Toronto. By 1914, his family had overcome their ethnicity and become
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