Article Summary: “If You Had No Money, You Had No Trouble, Did You?”
The article “If You Had No Money, You Had No Trouble, Did You?” examines the lives
of a group of Montreal housewives during the Great Depression to better understand how the
Depression affected the province of Quebec. The author, Denyse Baillargeon, focused on three
main sections of their lives: she asked these 30 women about their lives from the day they were
born, until the World War II, about the full extent of their relationships with their husbands, and
about their family economy.
The first section of the article focuses on the women’s upbringing, and how they lived
their lives. Most came from poor families and started work as young as the age of twelve. A-
typically, girls would leave school at the age of 14 to work to help with the family budget. Those
who chose to stay in school were taught how to be women, mothers and wives. Many of the
women who quit school would stop working as soon as they got married, but then said they felt
uncomfortable with the idea of keeping house, raising children and running a family, as they had
no training beforehand. Those women eventually figured out what they were doing though.
Some of the aforementioned women ended up going back to work, or finding “side line” jobs
once the depression struck as their husbands were either losing their jobs or getting significant
pay cuts, and their family was unable to make ends meet. What all of this meant is that even pre-
Depression, families were living just on or below the poverty line, and that if these women relied
on their husbands to metaphorically “bring home the bacon” their family would never survive.
Some of the husbands would have side-line jobs as well, even if they already had jobs.
Additionally, half of the women’s families ended up on welfare; to do the math, welfare would
only cover 50% of a family of five’s needs, which was really not good enough. All in all, the vast
majority of the families studied suffered greatly in regards to their financial situation during the
The second section explains the role of the woman in each family, and the relationships
they had with their husbands. In short, a woman in the 1930s was only meant to bear children
and keep house. The sole issue with having children during this time was that the more children a
woman had, the more her family would struggle; women were having on average two kids less than the women of their mother’s generation. It was entirely too hard to feed, clothe and house