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Canada – The Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties was a period of great prosperity and change in Canada. It started in the 1920’s and ended at the onset of the Great Depression.

Innovations

Jazz music began to gain popularity in the 1920’s by the increasing number of radio stations. Louis Armstrong was famous for his improvisational style of performing. As Jazz music began to see increased demand by dancers, it switched to the 4/4 of dance music.

Factories and the mass production of goods gave the middle class a wider selection of items. Cars are a prime example of mass production. The number of registered vehicles in Canada sextupled from 1918 to 1929. The accessibility granted by the automobile allowed people to visit parks and other cities with relative ease. This created demand for small hotels, stores, service stations and gas stations.
Radios also began to be purchased by the middle class. Radios were expensive, but it was the first device that allowed communication to the masses. Advertising via radio also boomed as advertisers realized the potential of the radio.

The Group of Seven was a collection of Canadian painters formed in 1919. They specialized in painting various landscapes across Canada. By 1926, the group had reached 10 members and were the first European artists to portray the Arctic. The group was so well known by 1931 that they disbanded the group and formed a new association, the Canadian Group of Painters.

Groups

Soldiers returned from the war to Canada with their wartime wages. They quickly rejoined the workforce and provided the boost to help the Canadian economy recover from post war recession.

Inflation caused living costs to increase but wages for workers stayed the same. In March of 1919, workers formed One Big Union to collectively bargain for better wages from City Council. Their proposal was rejected and the Winnipeg General Strike began. Workers from different departments all left their work and went on strike. During a demonstration, police on horseback charged at protesters, killing 2 and injuring many others. The strike was called off 11 days later and workers returned to work.

Women obtained the certain legal rights through the Persons Case. Before this case, ‘persons’ did not include women in law. The case was brought to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London and women received equal rights to men. Women also started working in clerical jobs that became available as a result of increasing business. Some women had the right to vote on behalf on a relative in the armed forces in 1917 under the Military Voters Act. However, in 1919, this right was given to all women. Apart from Quebec, all of the other provinces followed Ontario’s example and gave women the right to vote. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was a women’s group that focused on the banning of alcohol and social reforms. Memberships in the WCTU double from 1901 to 1921.

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