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CANADIAN INDUSTRY   137

reluctance to undertake the work. For a time they refused to believe that the war would last long, and hoped that the interruption to their ordinary activities would therefore be only a brief one. They knew that munition-making demanded the highest degree of exactitude in machining and of uniformity in material; they were entirely inexperienced in such work, and they knew that the Government inspection was of the most rigid character, and that failure in any respect might involve very heavy losses. It was necessary, moreover, to be assured of a sufficient profit on the first order to pay the cost of the special plant, as there was no guarantee that such orders would be repeated. Colonel Bertram, however, was an enthusiast, and gradually infected others with his optimism; and the prices offered on the early Canadian contracts were very attractive to men with plants standing in enforced idleness. By November 25th, 1914, it was stated that one hundred and thirty-Nine companies were engaged on various parts of the Shell Committee's undertaking. Speaking on January 12th, 1915, the president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce estimated the military supplies contracts placed in Canada by Britain, France, and Russia at $30,000,000, a much lower figure than that generally ascribed to them at the time by current rumour.

It was during the year 1915 that the Canadian munitions industry showed its real powers of growth. As soon as it was made evident that shrapnel shell could be satisfactorily produced in Canada, the entire body of steel plants and many secondary industries began to clamor for orders, and for a number of months anybody with a factory in which he conceived that shrapnel shell might possibly be manufactured felt himself entitled to write to the papers in the most aggrieved language if he had not received an order. The rapid growth of the shell industry was thus accompanied by an amount of public controversy, some of it political in motive and some of it purely selfish, which tended for a time to


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