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Toronto Depression

If we have another Depression, I wonder if the Canadians will suffer as much this time around as they did during the last Depression? Seems they had some social unrest along ethnic lines too.

(period pictures at page)

in 1931, 17% of Torontonians were unemployed. Two years later, the census reported that 30% were not able to find work, and in 1935, 25% of the population in Toronto and the suburbs were on relief....Women were forced to work faster, and their pace was measured by stop watches. They would be fired for failing to reach the expected production, as the main providers in their families, felt ashamed for not being able to support their wives and children, which often led to conflicts between the spouses. Children born to unmarried women were also a source of arguments,...Anti-Semitism was on the rise during the decade in Toronto. On August 16, 1933, an event regarded as the most violent ethnic clash in the history of the city took place in Christie Pitts, then known as Willowvale Park, following a playoff game for the Toronto junior softball championship.

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If we have another Depression,

If we have another Depression, I wonder if the Canadians will suffer.

Hopefully not. Thanks for thinking about us?

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The Christie Pits riot is quite famous, but not the way you

have characterized it.

As was to be expected there were quasi Nazi groups and Anti-Semites, and there were social divisions which meant that there were ethnic Baseball teams, the Irish, English Canadians, Germans and Jews. When the German team was scheduled to meet the Jewish team a fracas was expected and a lot of police were there. What they didn't expect was a very well organized Jewish contingent who protected themselves, their team and caused the Anti-Semitic side considerable injury. The police having witnessed all this, including the provocation of the Anti-Semites and as far as I have been able to find out, nobody was charged.

And that's Pits, as in gravel pits because that's what it was. It's still there and still hosts Fastball and Softball games. It is a source of pride in the city of Toronto that Nazis and Anti-Semites were not allowed to parade around intimidating people as they did in so many other cities, instead they were kept firmly in their place.


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"the way you characterized it"
"Seems they had some social unrest along ethnic lines too."

Was that too strong for you?
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Absolutely not. Toronto had the same divisions as

Baltimore did at the same time, or New York, or Chicago. It is the tone of gleeful "See, Toronto's a cesspit of ethnic divisions" without acknowledging that it was no different from similar American cities. Also note the date of the Christie Pits "Riot". This was before Hindenburg's death, and seems a very courageous thing to do, to stand up to Nazis and Anti-Semites early. I made clear that there were ethnic divisions, though I didn't mention The Toronto St. Patricks the Catholic NHL hockey team from here, or the Montreal Maroons, the Protestant team from there. The Orange Lodge was a powerful force in politics and society, sort of like The Legion of Decency but strictly Protestant encompassing Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists.

Many Depression era politicians came from the clergy. "Bible Bill" Eberhardt in Alberta was a Baptist minister and founded Social Credit (a long discredited idea that all you needed to do to solve a fiscal problem was print more moeney) as was Tommy Douglas from Saskatchewan who founded a Socialist Party originally called obscurely the Canadian Commonwealth Federation but referred to in joke as "the Crazy Canadian Farmers"

Recommended reading, Pierre Berton's The Great Depression. It has much more dirty revelations about the wretched wages paid to Quebeckers who made clothing for the T. Eaton Co. to sell cheaply across Canada. So there you have Protestant English Canada preying on poverty stricken Catholic Quebec. Separate languages, separate religions, separate outlooks and desires.


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"See, Toronto's a cesspit of ethnic divisions"

I never said that. Why did you put in quotes and attribute it to me? Perhaps you have an issue with the author? Quit trying to make it personal.

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I will assume that the figures you quoted are correct

because the Depression in Canada was as bad as the depression in the US. I notice that in your commentary you have missed the point that Canada did not suffer the same level of collapse that the US did in 2008 because Canada, being a cautious and conservative country doesn't trust Big Banks, Big Brokerages, and Big Finance. They are all hedged around with regulation and weren't allowed to play the foolish games that Wall Street did.

People were just as beaten down as they were in the US, and there was starvation here, just as there was in the US. Frankly there is little to choose between the two countries during the Depression. Weather was hot and dry and Dust Bowl conditions applied on the Prairie Provinces just as it did in the mid-west. The Provincial Legislature in Regina had an ornamental pond crossed by a bridge. The Pond was dry for about 6 years.

As for Anti-Semitism, it was neither worse nor better than in the US. Remember that CCNY the predecessor of CUNY was called Circumcised Citizens of New York by its students, and was founded because various New York Universities had restricted quotas for Jewish applicants. Anti-Semitism continued into the 1950's as it did in the US. There's a Gregory Peck movie in which he pretends to be Jewish and runs into all sorts of trouble, and that was made about 1954, so don't feel quite so superior.


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where do you come up with this?
"so don't feel quite so superior."

It's just an interesting article I ran across in Google Reader offerings this week. I didn't even go looking for it. Aren't you being over sensitive, trying to make something personal?
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Why single out Canada? Do you know the state of the

Canadian economy right now. Last week the Canadian dollar was trading at more than par with the American dollar. The banks didn't need baling out, the investment houses were fine since they weren't allowed to invest in derivatives. The unemployment rate is not great, but much of that is because American companies, particularly car companies have been closing Canadian plants to save jobs in the States. Check out the Report on Business from the Globe and Mail sometime. It will look just like the States, but without the downturn.

Oh, and the addition of New to your original headline gave me the impression that you thought that the information was all New. That was my mistake, but I don't see much difference between what you said, and what I said. I said the city tended to be organized and to fracture along ethnic lines, but the Christie Pits Riot was a one off occurrence. Nothing that large occurred again.

On the other side Canada's performance in accepting Jewish refugees was far worse than that of the US. The book to read on that subject is titled from a quotation by a Minister of External Affairs who ran the embassies and the immigration policy. At some point he wrote on a memo "None is too many". So there's a real Canadian terrible act.

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Toronto is Canada?

Or should Montreal be considered representative of Canada? I thought Canada was diverse between the Anglican, the French and the Native Americans among others who live there. Anyway, that seems to be more of your take on it than mine. Canada isn't singled out, just a time period in Toronto, and that by the author.

You must have overlooked my first sentence in your haste to attack me.

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Captions for the pictures to the best of my ability

1. Yonge Street Mission circa 1935. The building is no longer there, but the building to its right is near the corner of Queen and Yonge. Yonge Street is the longest single street in the world, it begins at the waterfront in roughly the centre of Toronto and goes straight north forming the primary North South Axis of the City. It ends in Thunder Bay on Lake Superior.
2. An aerial shot from the west looking South east to the lake The tall pale building just left of centre in the photograp is the Bank of Commerce building, at that time the tallest building in the British Empire. It is possible that the next tallest building is the Tip Top Tailors building long a waterfront land mark, and about the point at which the American invasion force of 1813 came ashore to attempt to burn the Parliament buildings in return for the British burning the White House which led to its being painted white in the first place.

3. The floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange. Toronto was not the financial or the population capital of Canada, Montreal was at that time and up to the late 60's when Separatism drove a great deal of business out of Quebec. This hasn't slowed the Quebec economy much at all. Hydro Quebec which supplies most of the North Eastern US with electricity is one reason and Bombardier which besides Ski-doo's and Sea Doo's makes trains busses subway cars and aircraft both jet and turboprop.

4. Just a guess, but a good one, The Wellesley Street Cottages where Wellesley Street meets the very wide valley of the Don River.

5. Yomge and Queen Streets looking north up Yonge. Pre 1938 or there might be a different street car at the corner (street car = trolley car). On the left are Simpson's Department store, and just over Queen Street Eaton's Department store. The Gimbel's and Macy's of Toronto. The Loew's Theatre was originally the Pantages, and beside having a large movie theatre at ground level had an astonishing and gorgeous regular theatre upstairs. It has since been refurbished and is once more called the Pantages. That's where Cats and Phantom of the Opera and stuff like that plays.

6. Not sure, probably Queen or King Streets but I'm unsure of which direction (east or west) we're looking.

7 The Toronto Stock Exchange from the outside. It still looks the same despite a profound upswing in activity over the previous picture.

8. Bay Street looking north to Old City Hall, now the Municipal courts building. Everything you see except old City Hall is gone as Bay Street is now Canada's Wall Street. During the building of Old City Hall there are photographs down Bay Street which reveal nothing but a shanty town going down to the lake. That was pre WW1. The building you see in this photo is 1920's boom.

Thanks to Mike Filey's many books on Old Toronto.


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let's take another trip down memory lane
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that's not Toronto

Not even Canada. Getting a bit off topic?

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Getting a bit off topic?

NO.......It's about The Great Depression and social unrest along ethnic lines, Both subjects brought up in your OP.

AND its about 80 years old same as your story.

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It's about the effect on Toronto

during the last Depression and assessing if things would be as bad on Toronto and Canada as it was last time if the US goes into a Depression. Some commentators have noticed the Canadian economy is different now than it was then and it's money has strengthened against the dollar of late. Or maybe it would go the same way as the World Expo of '67 which became the "Planet of Paradeen" in Battlestar Galatica. Montreal sure let that place go to ruin quickly.

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assessing if things would be as bad on Toronto and Canada

NO........ your post was a trip down Memory and memories from the past.

NO mention in the article (except for your wondering), of what would happen in C-eh-N-eh-D-eh IF the US had another depression.

You know what Nostalgia is, don't you?

Perhaps you want to have a post about WHEN the US has it's next Depression (like the one you think will happen under Obama)

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we look to the past

in efforts to divine the future. As Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun".

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RE: "There is nothing new under the sun".

It's a good thing we don't get bored talking about it.

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video from the show
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I wonder if the Canadians will suffer

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