Countless families forced to live almost at starvation level

29 Oct
English: (The Depression) The Single Men's Une...

English: (The Depression) The Single Men’s Unemployed Association parading to Bathurst Street United Church. Toronto, Canada Français : (La Dépression) Membres de la Single Men’s Unemployed Association se dirigeant vers l’Église unie de la rue Bathurst. Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On October 29, 1929, Canada experienced one of its most depressing days in history: the great market crash! Black Tuesday.

Prices suddenly crashed on the world’s stock markets, and Canada was plunged into ten years of poverty. One year after the crash, a whopping 400,000 were unemployed, and many people who did have jobs were earning less than subsistence pay. Thousands looking for work travelled through the country by hiding in freight cars. Countless families forced to live almost at starvation level for several years, were held together only by courage, character, and much self-sacrifice of parents and children.

Many families who could not find work went “on relief.” Across the country this varied from place to place. For instance, in Toronto, Ontario, a family of seven received food vouchers worth $7 a week; in Saskatchewan, a family of five was given $10 a month, along with a 98-pound sack of flour. Scarce money was usually spent on potatoes and dried beans instead of fruits.

On the morning of October 29, people who were rich in terms of stocks and shares, suddenly found that they were broke and worthless by evening.

Conditions were so bad that hotel clerks would (jokingly) ask a man registering for a room, “Sleeping or jumping, sir?”

The economic conditions did not really begin to improve until 1937. And that was mostly due to the war in 1939, when factories and farms went into full productions, providing employment at better wages.

If you want to read more about the market crash, I can certainly suggest a few sites, such as Canada History, the Investigating Answers website, and the Torontoist, and the Financial Post, and finally the Visa Journey Forum.


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15 responses to “Countless families forced to live almost at starvation level

  1. First Night Design

    November 18, 2013 at 9:39 am

    How very familiar! It’s happening in the UK now, only this time it’s the Coalition creating an even poorer society following on the heels of the bank crash of 2008.

    • tkmorin

      November 18, 2013 at 9:42 am

      That’s sad … however bad it feels and is, is it a comfort to know that it’s not permanent? I do feel for everyone in the UK!

      • First Night Design

        November 18, 2013 at 9:46 am

        I wish it were so but we’re now having to sell our flat and live heaven knows where or in what as our disability benefits have been cut by two-thirds! It is comforting, however, to read excellently written blog posts about something historically fascinating.

  2. hairballexpress

    November 4, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Very scary… Things are very much like that in America now. (HISS)!


  3. noirfifre

    October 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Terribly sad time.

    • tkmorin

      October 29, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Yes, it’s too bad for those that lived it …

  4. Deb

    October 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Very interesting post. Funny that I had four grandparents live through the depression and none of them ever spoke of it. I wonder if it is was one of those things you just didn’t talk about; they would have ranged from age 14 to 24 at the time of the crash. Now you have given me something to really think about.

    • tkmorin

      October 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      It’s too bad we didn’t know the questions to ask, eh?

  5. urkaicommunity

    October 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    A time in Canadian history that is so intriguing, yet dark and sad. Many families were split up, children were shipped to work on family farms, while their parents found odd jobs across Canada. Women who lost their husbands opened up boarding houses, and sewed just to make ends meet. It makes you appreciate our lives today!

  6. seeker

    October 29, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Black Tuesday became Black Monday in my lifetime. I remember the market fell and I was in Hawaii at the time. My investments never recovered and I also lost my job. I remember some people took their lives. Good post, Tk.

    • tkmorin

      October 29, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Goodness, I’m sorry to heat that, P!

    • seeker

      October 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Tuesday and Monday recovered, so did most of the world who are not too attached to materialism.

  7. L. Marie

    October 29, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Wow. That was a bad time all over!

  8. weggieboy

    October 29, 2013 at 8:50 am

    The Great Depression lead to jobless and homeless men hitching rides on passing trains to get to other parts of the US to try to find work or just exist as best one could. Was there a similar movement of unemployed through Canada?


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