This page contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers regarding major events
in the 1930s time period. The questions are organized by sub-category as best as possible.
Q: I would like to know about your memories of the great depression.
A: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 was followed by
very hard financial times. The result of the Crash
was chaotic and thousands of people became
unemployed. The Crash occurred
overnight (so it seemed) and many committed suicide out
The City of Toronto helped out the
poor with food and clothing and as I was one of
six children I remember those days very well.
Work for my dad was very sparse during the 30's
and sometimes non existent. People pulled
together because we were all in the same boat.
and as children, vacations were out of the question.
But not knowing any different, we played in the
streets - hide and go seek - baseball- hopscotch.
Compared to today food was very cheap but pennies
were few and far between, so even though it was
cheap, it was not always obtainable. The churches
also helped out with food and toys, especially around
Christmas. People tried to help each other wherever
possible and eventually the years passed and the
economy improved after the start of WW 2 in 1939.
The years that followed were pretty
grim and thousands of people did not have jobs.
My dad was one of them, and we had to get
City Relief which helped with food. Boots and
pants were supplied to my brothers every six
months. Because so many were in the same
boat, we kids did not really know the difference
We played and invented a lot of our own fun.
No TV, could not afford movies and mostly we
listened to programs on the radio at night.
When the WW 2 broke out in 1939, it was the
beginning or the monetary turnaround. War
promotes work in munitions factories and other
war related industries.
More thoughts: There was six kids in my family and
my dad looked unsuccessfully for work for most of that
decade. City Relief was provided for the very poor
which included clothing and food. As kids, we did not
fully realize the severity of the times and as there were
no wealthy kids to compare to, it all seemed like a normal
existence for us.
The parents however, bore the burden
of physical and mental anguish over the deprivation of
these years. To add insult to injury, we had the Dustbowl
which rendered the land infertile for raising food.
Q: Was there a quick fix for the depression?
A: There was no quick fix for this very monumental
problem. After the initial shock of the Crash in 1929
the unemployment was extremely high. Men headed in
any direction in the country to find work. and migrant workers
were prevalent across the land. Some money came in from
the private sector to stimulate the economy but as I said there
was no magic relief. There was city relief for the poorer
families, help from neighbors and of course the churches did
their best to help in the communities. The ups and downs in
the 30's were tremendous and it was the outbreak of WW2
that sent the country in a spin, but economically it was the war
that turned the economy around (ironic).
Because the solution came about due to war it was
naturally a mixed blessing. But people did pull together for
the common purpose of aiding the war effort and many factories
came into being. which of course provided work. That was the
beginning of women going out in the work field in numbers and
with men going overseas to fight, there was a high number of
women working in male oriented jobs.
Q: What was the situation in other countries at this time?
A: First of all let me explain that we did not have the sophisticated
media that we enjoy today and most news of what was going on
in other countries came through a wire service. Other countries
were struggling very hard to survive the devastation as a result
of the Great Depression.
Adolph Hitler was instrumental in getting
Germany back on it's feet monetarily. Russia struggled with the
concept of communism and the people in general were far from
well off. Asian countries, because of their high population, were
often in need. Generally speaking, there were no "fat cats" during
this period and unfortunately it took a world war to get the economy
going again in order for the little guy to make a living .
World War 2
Q: What was Canada's foreign policy in WW2?
A: Canada was closely allied to England and when war was
declared in 1939 our army reserves were the first to be
sent overseas. We totally rejected Hitler and all of his
policies. Premier King implemented the drafting of all
elegible males and they were trained and shipped overseas.
We were not into war as a nation but being part of the
Commonwealth, the choice was made. Immigrants were
sort of put on hold and as a matter of fact boatloads of
Jewish people headed for our shores and those of the U.S.
but were turned away . I personally think this is why we have
such an open policy today on immigration - we felt guilty
for the rejection of the Jews.
I think our policy was one of peace and we were never an
aggressive nation. However,during the war years, the Japanese
Chinese and other immigrants already in the country were closely
watched by the Canadian government.
The Dust Bowl
Q: What was the Dust Bowl?
A: The Dustbowl of the 1930's was an
ecological disaster that occurred in the South West
Great Plains of the U.S. The drought continued for
such a long period that the land eroded and blew
away. There was absolutely no way for farmers to
grow food and many migrated to other farmlands or
into the cities to get work.
"The Grapes of Wrath"
by Steinbeck is a great illustration of this particular
time and the story of one family's struggle to survive.
I believe you can get the video as well.
Q: Can you tell me about FDR and The New Deal?
A: When FDR became President in 1933 the country was
experiencing High unemployment with a stagnant economy.
There was a proposal (The Deal) to help people who were
economically trapped with mortgages they could not pay,
farmers close to losing their land etc. The idea was to hold
back foreclosure for a couple of years to give the owners a
chance to catch up. This also held back gouging by the people
who were in the mortgage business. FDR tried very hard to
restore prosperity to the country by giving the little guy a chance.
Several states created "little new deals" but it became a question
of how constitutional this was. Thus the question went to the
Some believe that what FDR did caused another depression in a depression.
The Hindenburg Disaster
Q: What were speakeasies?
A: After Prohibition evolved in the 20's, speakeasies were
springing up all over in the U.S. They were controlled by
gangsters who supplied the illegal booze. People would
gravitate to these places for a night of drinking and heaven
knows what else. Some of these cabarets were a haven
for homosexuals and lesbians.
Would you believe that
some of these places even supplied chewing gum for their
patrons to cover up the fact they had been drinking. It kept
the Prohibition Enforcement men very busy raiding these
places and they would close one down only to find another
one had opened. These were truly dens of iniquity but they
made a lot of money for the mobs that run them.