Previous Index Next

 

110   DAYS OF PREPARATION

geared up for the absorption of something like $400,000,000 of new capital per annum, whereas for the last five months of 1914, during which time the security markets of the entire world were in a state of petrifaction, not a penny of outside money entered the Dominion, if we except the advances made to the Federal Government by the British Treasury to assist the military operations of Canada, and these were almost all expended in England for the maintenance of the Canadian troops in training at Salisbury Plain and on service at the Front.

These five months were a period of very great difficulty and uncertainty. Unemployment was widespread, for the operations of every species of industry had been cut down to the minimum. The wheat crop was a disappointment, being less in bulk than the preceding year, and in some districts a total failure owing to drouth, although thanks to higher prices its market value showed no reduction. So severe was the depression that there was a general demand for the keeping up of industry and finding employment for labour by artificial stimulus, and many provinces and municipalities undertook what were frankly known as "relief " works, such as non-essential road improvements, sometimes without having much idea as to whence the money would be forth-coming to pay for them. The Ottawa Government, with a more just idea of the temporary nature of this condition, did little to countenance such palliatives, and with the rise of the munition industry and the progress of enlistment the demand for them rapidly fell off.

It is to be noticed that the activities of the "boom" period in Canada were of the utmost value in facilitating the Dominion's contribution to the war; for had it not been that a very large proportion of the population was, prior to 1914, engaged in non-productive, and largely promotive or speculative, occupations, it would have been quite impossible for a nation of little over seven millions, with no leisured class and no surplus labour, to provide an army of 500,000 able-bodied men and at


Previous Index Next