The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: 1925 Page 1 of 3

The Annual Firemen’s Excursion to Niagara Falls Comes to a Full Stop Three Miles Up the Line

June 27, 1925

Would You Like to be a Juror? Few Men, No Women Have a Chance

May 2, 1925

This illustration went with an article by Fred Griffin on how juries are selected in Ontario. It notes that Ontario still does not allow women on juries while jurisdictions like Alberta and some U.S. states have allowed it since 1922 and 1920 respectfully, despite recent changes giving women the vote. The article also lists all of the conditions to become a juror such as being over 21, being a British subject, not infirm, and owning $600 of property in cities or $400 in towns or villages.

20 B’low at Birdseye Center

January 31, 1925

This is the first appearance of Pigskin Peters.

Harvest Home Chicken Supper at Birdseye Center

November 21, 1925

This illustration accompanied a generic article by Raymond Knister about community or church suppers usually held in the fall. In this case, “Birdseye Center” was used as a generic term to describe a small town, and did not have anything to do with Jim’s comic. John Knister was known primarily for his realistic narratives set in rural Canada.

Radio Heckling

By Gregory Clark, November 14, 1925.

Did you go in for radio heckling during the campaign?1

It’s the latest sport.

Amongst those invited in to hear the speech of the Right. Hon. Mackenzie King was our Aunt Jess.

She is getting on in years, but still bears a stout and doughty attitude towards life. And she is a Tory.

During the preliminary speeches Aunt Jess sat in stony silence, a slight smile on her face, which curled with mild scorn whenever there came the buzz of thunderous applause out the horn.

When the prime minister was announced she sat forward in her chair and bent a challenging gaze into the amplifier.

“Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,” began the prime minister.

“Bah for you!” shouted Aunt Jess.

“Sssh!” we all hissed, in astonishment.

“It is a source of very special pride and pleasure,” continued the prime minister, unabashed by Aunt Jess’ rude interruption, “for me to-night…”

“Daddy, what did you do in the great war!” yelled Aunt Jess, who is a reader of the Telegram as well as the Mail.

“Sssh!, Whisssht!” we expostulated.

“… to have with me on this platform to night,” continued the prime minister, “my chief lieutenant in the government of this country.”

“For five days more!” yelled Aunt Jess, in a loud voice, and very red in the face.

We turned off the switch.

“Look here, Aunt Jess,” we cried, “you can’t do that! He can’t hear you, you know.”

“I know that, my lad,” replied Aunt Jess. “But you don’t know what pleasure it gives me to be quite rowdy. I have never heckled in my life before and here’s my chance. Turn that thing on again.”

“Please, Aunt Jess, we want to hear Mr. King’s message.”

“Would you deny an old woman her dying wish? Turn that thing on!”

“But –“

“But nothing. I have been going to political meetings all my life and have had to sit like a fool, afraid to open my mouth for fear everyone would turn and stare at me. Now’s my chance. Let ‘er go!”

Sat Closer Than Before

And Aunt Jess sat up closer to the horn than before, in a most rowdy attitude, her eyes sparkling. “Let ‘er go!”

“I understand, ladies and gentlemen,” came Mr. King’s voice, “that the right honorable the leader of the opposition…”

“Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Tiger!!!” roared Aunt Jess into the amplifier, while Mr. King’s voice continued unperturbed but somewhat drowned by the lone cheers.

“I would like to ask Mr. Meighen to do what I have attempted to do here,” went on the prime minister.

“Oh, is that so!” shouted Aunt Jess.

“I would like him to state on this platform, who he will have in his cabinet from Quebec, and who he will have in his cabinet from the west?”

“Better men than you’ve got!” cried Aunt Jess, her face up to the horn.

The old lady’s spirit was infectious. We all began to see this as a battle between Aunt Jess and the prime minister. As the speech went on Aunt Jess unloosed some expressions, some modern and some quite old and well-worn, that we had no idea she possessed in her ladylike vocabulary. When the prime minister got going in his stride, with long, oratorical sentences that could not very well be broken in on, Aunt Jess would merely retort with long, raucous laughter, utterly confusing and spoiling the effect of the prime minister’s best arguments. She produced a small flag from her sateen bag and began waving it in front of the horn with derisive shouts.

“These are the policies,” said the prime minister, “for which the Liberal party not only stands…”

“But falls!” shrilled Aunt Jess. And she rose to her feet.

Continued Right to the End

The prime minister was marching to a close.

Aunt Jess removed her little bonnet which she wears in the house. Eyes alight, voice husky from use, she continued her heckling right to the end.

“.. and with that greater understanding,” concluded the prime minister eloquently, “a larger fellowship for the good of the individuals concerned and the greater good of all.”

Aunt Jess hurled her bonnet into the horn, thus muffling the Liberal cheers which sprang from it.

“Hurray for Meighen!” she screamed. “Hurray! Hurray!” And she did a sort of dervish dance in front of the amplifier.

“The best time I ever had in my life,” declared Aunt Jess, breathlessly. “How much do these radio things cost?”

Aunt Jess has a lot of old scores to pay.

“There are singers I want to inform that they have rotten voices. There are certain ministers in this city I would like to interrupt.”

(Aunt Jess is an Anti2, you understand.)

“All my life, for over sixty years, I have had to go to concerts, meetings, and to church, and listen to people that irritated me beyond measure. Here is my chance to tell them what is on my mind. You see, I give them no offense, yet I get a burden off my mind that has weighed too heavily… Turn on some singer until I see what it feels like.”

We got a station in which a lady with a slow soprano was singing “Marquita.”

We sat in silence. Aunt Jess lifted her chin and tapped with her knitting needles.

“Too slow,” she called into the horn. “Don’t chew your words, girl. Enunciate. Enunciate. Oh, horrible. Stop her!”

We switched off.

Aunt Jess tossed her head delightedly.

“What a treat!” said Aunt Jess. “Are there any Unionist ministers preaching to-night?”

“No, not until Sunday.”

“Very well, I’ll be here Sunday,” said Aunt Jess.

Editor’s Notes:

  1. The 1925 federal election was close, with no party winning a majority. ↩︎
  2. In this case, she would be against the union of multiple churches to form the United Church of Canada in 1925. ↩︎

“Just a Little Wider, Please!”

July 25, 1925

This illustration accompanied a story by Amy Carr about the dentist. I have no information on who she was.

Canada’s Vanished Legion

No Politician Need Fear The Soldier Vote, For The Veterans of The Great War Are Scattered to The Four Corners of the Dominion – Disunion Is Evident – Lack of a Soldiers’ Organization That Represents The Old Corps of War Days – What Chance of a Canadian Legion?

By Gregory Clark, July 18, 1925.

Canada has succeeded magnificently in disbanding her army.

One of the oldest problems in the history of the world is how to disband an army.

Raising an army is a joke. Any country can raise an army overnight. The late war proves it. A few drums, a few flags, a few promises. But it is getting rid of that dangerous mustering of men that is the mischief of a job. The world’s history is full of jagged holes torn by armies that wouldn’t disband. Caesar’s to Napoleon’s, great, rearing political and social factors that the statesmen had not counted on when they planned and executed a “good war.”

Caesar set out to make the world safe for democracy: and, after he had done all he intended, here were legions unnumbered cluttering up the streets of Rome, who wouldn’t go back to the plow, but, professional veterans, began agitating for democracy. Napoleon set out to make the world safe for democracy, against the kings of the world; and before he finally got his army disbanded he was an emperor, an exile, and his old army disbanded itself in the cafes of Paris under a king.

It isn’t an army in the field that is a dangerous thing. It is an army back home.

Canada’s army is utterly disbanded. It was probably not by design that our regiments were recruited from different parts of the dominion. Yet there is the secret of disbanding. To hold a reunion of one Toronto regiment, for example, you would have to get its old members from Owen Sound, Ottawa, Quebec, New Brunswick, North Bay, Alberta and Kingston.

That regiment cannot hold a reunion. It has never held a reunion. It disbanded in Toronto Exhibition grounds. And its members scattered to the four winds of the vast dominion. As a whole, it will never be again. A thousand old familiar faces are gone forever. This is the fact about practically every regiment in the Canadian corps.

No politician has anything to fear from the soldier vote. Nor need anything great ever be expected, by way of splendid constructive and organized effort from that magnificent body of Canadians who stood together, say in 1917 and 1918.

The recent gathering of veterans at Ottawa to meet Lord Haig and to hear his inspiring appeal for the union of all Canada’s veterans and to join Canada’s veterans with the British Legion in an imperial association of all the ex-soldiers of the war has merely brought to the front the fact of the disunion of Canada’s veterans.

That Canada’s veterans have tried to get together is proved by the fact that there have been and are in existence at least twenty and perhaps more distinct veterans’ organizations in Canada. There is one strong one – strong, in comparison with the others – one that was strong in the hectic days of 1921, but now of unknown strength, and then a large number that trail away to mere regimental societies, looking after the dependent members of the units they commemorate.

Each Claimed the Honor

That any or all of these veterans’ associations actually represent the ex-service men of Canada as a whole is claimed by all, but stands in need of proof.

Five offices of five separate and distinct veterans’ associations were visited in Toronto. In each office a paid official stated in unqualified terms that there was only one real, strong, representative soldiers’ organization in the country.

This emphatic statement by five paid officials does not mean that the union inspired by Lord Haig has suddenly come into being. Nor does it mean that all five are agreed that one of their number is really the one effective, powerful agency for the service of the ex-soldier.

No. Each official claimed the honor and distinction for his own association! And the words that each used regarding all the others, only a few hours after the meeting with Lord Haig, were hard words.

The reunion of old regiments is physically impossible. The effort to enroll the veterans in a civil organization has failed in the upspringing of a score of separate and opposed associations. The union of these associations, without the leadership of a mighty man, and the co-operation of tens of thousands of Canadian ex-service men who have never joined any organization, is most unlikely.

Yet every one of these societies of veterans has had as its first principle the assisting of ex-soldiers or soldiers’ widows in the winning from the government their just dues in pensions, allowances, and medical treatment. All of them have done something in this direction; some of them have done much. The millions of dollars that have been awarded by official departments in the last eight years on the representation of these veteran societies is proof enough that they have been of value to the country. That such service bureaus would have emerged at the end of the war was perfectly natural, of course.

But to what extent are the veterans’ associations now active representative of that Canadian corps which enlisted, from its start to its finish, over half a million men in Canada?

This has become more than a little question. Because, at the meeting with Lord Haig in Ottawa, the various associations, with a decisive gesture, appeared to hand over to Lord Haig not merely the associations or clubs of veterans which were represented there, but the veterans of Canada as a whole.

When, for example, a veterans’ organization of all of them for that matter makes a public pronouncement on some public question can this be accepted as the opinion of the old Canadian corps?

Descending Order of Figures

To our representative in Ottawa C. Grant MacNeil, general secretary of the G.W.V.A., Nell gave the following figures. He stated that the active and paid-up membership of the G.W.V.A. throughout Canada is now 99,900. He gives as the Ontario membership 42,000.

Mr. A. Shields, secretary of the Ontario district command, stated that the active and paid-up membership of Ontario would be about 30,000, and of Toronto about 5,000.

Mr. Harry Bray, president of the Toronto district, said that 5,000 would be about the paid-up strength of Toronto, and that the Riverdale branch, probably the strongest in the city, would be 600.

The secretary of the Riverdale branch stated that his active paid-up strength was 480.

This downward discrepancy of figures throughout would probably seriously affect Mr. MacNeil’s estimate that there were 99,900 active members in his organization, the strongest of all the associations.

In the audit of the G.W.V.A. dominion headquarters at Ottawa an order of the senate committee which was investigating the payment of trust moneys made to Mr. MacNeil, it showed that money received by the headquarters of the G.W.V.A. over the whole period of eight years of its existence as per capita tax of 60 cents per member per year, totalled for the whole period only $121,000. Divided by eight, this would give some $15,000 a year, the per capita tax of some 25,000 members over the whole dominion. However, some years, the per capita tax receipts were bigger than others, the largest being for ten months ending February, 1920, when over $30,000 was received, the tax on about 50,000 members.

But the last record, the tax received from May, 1923, to April, 1925, when the audit was made, shows only $13,197 over a period of two years, which would indicate a membership, active, during the past couple of years of something around 11,000 members in good standing – not 99,900!

Mr. Shields, the Ontario secretary, explained this extraordinary discrepancy by pointing out that in the case of a returned soldier organization it was hardly fair to demand the paid-up and active membership as being the strength of the organization. The enrolment was much greater than the paid-up strength.

But in searching for the right of representation of Canada’s ex-service men can anything but paid-up figures be allowed? And, of course, the G.W.V.A. is unquestionably the strongest of all the organizations.

“What percentage of your membership is Canadian born?” we asked Mr. Shields.

“Not a very large percentage,” he replied.

“Why is that?”

“Well, for the main thing, because the majority of the troops in the Canadians were Old Country men.” stated Mr. Shields.

This was received with some astonishment, and we were able to supply Mr. Shields with the official figures of the Doomsday Book, showing the records of total enlistments in the Canadian corps to be divided as follows:

Born in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales  221,495

Born in Canada  317,705

Born in the United States   37,391

Elsewhere, some 13,000.

This shows a majority of nearly a hundred thousand Canadian born over Old Country men in the corps. And it shows one-sixth as many Americans as Old Country men, which is an arresting thought, since surely the United States had no particular call to arms until at last she entered on her own behalf.

Absence of Native Born Puzzle

In the same building in which Mr. Shields was being interviewed, as a matter of fact, there had been held a mass meeting of veterans during the recent excitement over the establishing of a Canadian flag, at which all veterans present passed a unanimous resolution that the Union Jack was Canada’s flag. The hall in which the meeting was held was the G.W.V.A. hall.

“How many of the veterans present at that meeting were Canadian born?” we asked Mr. Shields.

“There would not be a great many,” he admitted.

“Would there be ten?”

Mr. Shields thought there would be more than ten. But he would not say precisely how many. He makes no bones about the fact that the Canadian born, who were in the majority in the corps, are by no means in the majority in the G.W.V.A.

So, admitting, for example, the perfect right of every man to express the love of his native land in any way he likes, the mass meeting of veterans that passed the unanimous resolution that the Union Jack be in no way added to by a symbol of Canada, these veterans – Canadian no less than any man who lives and loves and toils in Canada – were none the less British-born veterans expressing their love of their own land above all else.

This is merely one case that makes it interesting and necessary that the relation of such veteran societies as exist to the ex-members of the Canadian corps as a whole be looked into.

The absence of Canadian born from the various veterans’ societies other than those special ones referring to some particular disability is one of the puzzles and problems of the whole situation.

“It is admitted,” says Mr. Harry Bray, the Toronto president, who is, Canadian born himself, “that the majority of veterans are not enlisted in any association, which, from the point of view of the service they might render, alone is a great pity. And it is also clear that those principally absent from the associations are the Canadian born.”

Mr. Bray stated that not one per cent. of the cases that come into his hands as an officer of the Soldiers Aid Commission for relief of various kinds are members of any veterans’ organizations.

How utterly the old corps is disbanded! The regiments but memories. The veterans in conflicting societies of undemonstrable strength, though doing good work. And these societies not representative of the Canadian born, who, though not in the first contingents, the statistics of which are a glorious tribute to the love of Old Country men for their homeland, nevertheless made the Canadian corps predominantly Canadian as a whole.

Who can bring all the veterans of Canada into a union? Can Sir Arthur Currie, commander of the corps, do what Lord Haig, commander of all the British forces, did with the British veterans?

If he could and does – and indications are not wanting that the duty is inevitably moving his way – would it be a good thing or a bad thing for Canada?

History tells that disbanded armies have been mighty social and political factors, most of them very much for the good of the nation. They served to check the ambitions of victorious tyrants. But they have also played tool to politicians.

One little organization with headquarters in Toronto, little in the sense that it has only a small office with three paid officials and no membership of its own, though representing nine different Ontario veteran bodies of various sizes down to regimental veteran associations, is known as the Veterans’ Alliance. It was formed in 1923 as a protest against the inactivity of the Dominion Veterans’ Alliance.

Canada as a Motherland

This independent alliance, with a staff of three, in the seventeen months it had functioned up to the time of making this return to the government secured for veterans from the pensions board and other official sources the sum of $109,080 in cash. These were just and honest claims that the government was not paying until brought to their notice by a society that secures the services of the city’s foremost medical specialists, without cost to the pensioner, and spares no pains to make a true and faithful presentation of claims. The pensions this represents over a period of years could be shown in millions. But the $109,080 is cash already received by ex-service men.

That is an indication of what the need of some independent representation for the ex-service man amounts to. It is very real and, urgent.

What a great union of all veterans, a Canadian Legion, like the British Legion or the American Legion, could do in the wider field of service to Canada as a whole demands vision.

The commander of that legion when it was a corps serving Canada on the field of battle is known to be a man of vision.

With him at the leash the corps did Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras, Cambrai to what we all thought was the finish.

Some want to call the proposed union of veterans the British Legion. Another group want to call it the Canadian Legion.

If the union consists simply of those associations now existing, it should be called the British Legion in Canada, unquestionably, because it would very largely consist of British-born veterans of the corps.

If a union under a great leader can be devised that will include also a just proportion of the Canadian born, then it should be called the Canadian Legion, in memory of that great corps which consisted of British born and the sons and grandsons and great-grandsons of British born and of French-Canadians, Americans and sons of many lands. Yet any organization which denies to the Canadian born the divine right to love the land they were born in more than any other and whatsoever will not much appeal to Canadians as a whole.

To the British born in Canada the last vision vouchsafed to them on this earth will probably be some bit of Surrey, some little street in Scotland, some green hill of Erin. The spirit turns again home.

Yet to their very sons, as to the sons of their predecessors in the building of the empire, the last vision will surely be of some sweet, familiar glimpse of this beloved motherland that is Canada.

Editor’s Notes: As indicated in the article, after world War One, there were a number of veteran organizations, with the largest being the Great War Veterans’ Association. These organizations were needed as the government was not very good at looking after veterans. By November of 1925, the appeal for unity lead to the creation of the Royal Canadian Legion.

The First Consignment of 4.4 Arrives at the Grand Central

May 16, 1925

Prohibition had been in place in Ontario since 1916, but it had huge pockets of unpopularity resulting in numerous referendums. In 1923, the conservative government of Howard Ferguson was elected. A referendum in 1924 on repeal was basically 50/50. Seeing the way the wind was blowing, in early 1925 it was announced the repeal of restriction on the sale of beer, allowing the sale of a beer with a maximum alcohol content of 4.4% which was nicknamed “Fergie’s Foam” or “temperance beer”. Full repeal came in 1927.

Tide of Freshwater Emigrants Turns Again Home

Detroit Largest Canadian City in U.S.A. – 100,000 Canucks Living There – But Heavy Movement Across Line Is Over – They’re Coming Back Now at Rate of Eleven a Day at Windsor Border – Natural Attraction of the Big Cities, Rather Than Discontent with Canadian Conditions, Has Sent Many Young Men From Ontario Rural Districts to Detroit

By Gregory Clark, March 21, 1925.

In Detroit they call Canadians “freshwater immigrants.”

Nevertheless, Detroit is the largest Canadian city in the United States.

Canadian cities rank as follows by population: Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Hamilton, Ottawa, Detroit.

One hundred thousand is the estimate of the number of Canadian born who dwell in Detroit. Of its million population, one in ten is a Canadian. Detroit ranks as fourth city in the United States. But it is only the seventh Canadian city.

For every so many hundred square miles of the surface of the earth, there is a dominating city. Detroit is the big city of Western Ontario. What Toronto is to central Ontario and what Montreal is to the eastern townships, Detroit is to that piece of Ontario which slopes away to the southwest.

No other American city of a size sufficient to be powerfully magnetic to Canadians is located right on the border. But Detroit is within seventy-five cents of a score of Canadian villages, It is within two dollars of London. It is bigger than Canada’s biggest city.

It costs only five cents to cross the “imaginary line” on a ferry.

So to Detroit may we turn for light on the emigration of Canadians to the States with respect to which the politicians are crying out loud.

The minute you set foot in Detroit you know it is a city. Its skyscrapers have four fronts.

The sign of a city is when the city architect discovers that a skyscraper can be seen from four different directions and therefore has four fronts. Skyscrapers with one stone front and three homely brick backs are the continuation of the village institution of false-front stores – two-storey false fronts concealing a one-room shanty behind.

You step into Detroit. Its pavements are not good as Toronto’s or Barrie’s. But they are better than Montreal’s. A large bus, two touring cars and a limousine nearly run over you. With loud Canadian exclamation you hug the inside of the sidewalk. Two well-dressed panhandlers stop you boldly and touch you for a quarter apiece. They are framed, as they stand there, hands modestly extended, against a vista of beauty – ah, silver minarets against the blue, high, higher, highest skyscraper posed against skyscraper, far and away. A policeman dressed like a motorcop taps you smartly on the shoulder.

“Hey! Move on!”

Apologizing to the two handsome panhandlers for so niggardly a gift as a quarter, you move hurriedly on.

Such are your first five minutes in Detroit.

Still, Canada may well be proud of Detroit. It is a fine city.

It is the gate through which pass by far the largest number of Canadians who enter the United States for other than a mere visit. In the opinion of the United States inspector of immigration at that port, about one-quarter of all Canadians who cross the continent-wide boundary cross it at Detroit. Here, the facts of the exciting emigration of Canadians may best be dug up.

“The flood is past,” says Inspector A. M. Doig, in charge of immigration at Detroit, “From the end of the war, until 1923, the number of Canadians paying the head tax – that means those who come for a visit of more than six months – has been on the increase. It reached its peak in the year ending March, 1923. The decrease is rapid. For the past few months, the number of Canadians entering this port has fallen to what we call normal constant, an average of between thirty and thirty-five a day.

“Of course, there are local peaks during every year – one at the end of the harvest, when the farm laborers come south, and another in the spring, after the breakup in the bush, when the lumbermen and laborers come out of the Canadian bush and come down for summer work. These farm laborers and lumberjacks constitute a very large roving band who cross and recross the border.

“Of those other than seasonal workers, the peak is past, and I imagine quite large numbers of them, who have come over in the past five years, are returning to Canada.”

“Does the fact that a person pays the head tax mean that he leaves Canada for good and takes up permanent residence in the States?” we asked.

“Oh, no,” replied the inspector. “All who enter for more than a brief visit pay the $8 head tax. They may collect it again if they return to Canada within six months. Of those who pay the head tax, about 70 per cent. do not reclaim it.”

“Meaning,” we said, “that 30 per cent. do?”

“Yes. And of course we have no statistics beyond that. While we believe that a good many of that 70 per cent. who appear to have stayed actually do stay, yet the past six years have been abnormal and very unsettled, and there is room to doubt any conclusions that we may draw from general experience,” said the inspector. “But the immigration of Canadians to the States is not a new thing. It has been going on for a century. There has always been a steady trickle of Canadians over to us. They are perhaps the most desirable of all newcomers, because they are so quickly absorbed. A Canadian is the only immigrant you cannot tell from a native-born American at a glance.”

992,388 to U. S. in Decade

And here follows the rate at which Canadians have been going over the border – the whole United States border – for the past ten years:

Ten-year total992,383

The present slump has occurred in the fiscal year 1925, ending this month.

About 70 per cent. of these have not reclaimed their head tax. That is, they have stayed more than six months, or forgot to go to the trouble of writing and recovering the eight dollars.

It is, of course, within political license to say that the whole 992,388 have abandoned Canada. But the only facts are that 70 per cent. of that number didn’t collect their head tax. It is not safe even to assume that the whole 70 per cent. or 690,000, have stayed in the States during the past ten years.

Canada, unfortunately, has never kept tab on the number of Canadians who come back home from the States. But since the politicians who are “out” have been raising the cry of emigration to show how bad conditions are, the government has started to keep count, which shows in the last ten months that 39,000 who had taken up residence in the States had returned to Canada.

At the Detroit border, where Canadians are going over at the normal constant rate of thirty a day, they are coming back across the Windsor border at the average rate of 351 a month or eleven a day.

If Detroit were not so handy to the border, and within such easy range of western Ontario – which she drains just as normally as Toronto drains the counties all around her – would emigration to the States have been so great? Is not Detroit a special factor in the whole case, which throws out of joint all the reasoning by which emigration can be traced to business conditions?

Why does a young fellow leave Bowmanville for Toronto, Dundas for Hamilton, the Manitoba village for Winnipeg, or the little Quebec hamlet for Montreal?

In that answer, you find the junction between economics and human nature.

Big City’s Natural Attraction

Charles Mitchell, well-known Toronto man who for five years has been in Detroit organizing the Independent Order of Foresters there, is president of the Canadian Club of Detroit.

“I would estimate,” says Mr. Mitchell, “the number of Canadian-born in this city at over 80,000. And these include many who have been here since childhood. I know plenty of old men in this city who were born in Canada and came across nearly half a century ago. It is quite as logical for young men to come to Detroit as it is for young men to come to Toronto. The big city attracts. The bigger it is, the bigger the attraction. The most prosperous year Coboconk ever had probably saw some young men light out for Toronto. Economic conditions undoubtedly have something to do with migrations, of population, but don’t forget the human factor or youth in its determination to ‘see the world.’

“These figures you show seem very impressive. But do you realize that a very large part of them are farm and bush workers who follow the seasons, around; that builders and mechanics in large numbers, when the Canadian climate suspends building, come over and go to the southern states to work at their trades? And, of course, perhaps as high as 80 per cent. of the whole lot are single men, young men, free to move and therefore – moving!

“Don’t forget another thing: Canadians as workers are very highly esteemed here in the States. Bank clerks, accountants and other skilled office men in particular. Just a moment.”

And right before our eyes, Mr. Mitchell took the telephone and called up the head of a Detroit printing establishment who was known as one who favored Canadian printers above all others.

“Why is it that you prefer Canadians, and why have you a staff largely of Canadians?” Mr. Mitchell asked this gentleman, himself a native born American.

The answer taken down was this:

“They are more thorough, more reliable, a little better schooled than our own printers.”

“Why are they more reliable?”

“By that I mean that they are not so free-and-easy and off-hand as our own people. They have a better sense of responsibility in their work. They stick to the job better.”

Detroit Favors Canadians

Mr. Mitchell hung up the phone.

“You see? Democracy is a mighty fine thing. I admire it intensely. But it has its drawbacks. Canadians as a class are more conservative than Americans. Not so free-and-easy. This quality is highly prized in Detroit by business men. I can, if you like, call up bankers, business men, merchants, and all will say the same of Canadians. Now, there is another factor in the case. Not only do Canadians come here; they are wanted here.”

“But,” we said, “we can’t print a free ad. for the States like that!”

“Why not?” said Mr. Mitchell. “There are millions of Canadians who wouldn’t live in the States anyway. Oh, Canada has its advantages.”

He looked out of the window, where Detroit was beginning to make its five o’clock roar.

While there are a little under a million people in Detroit itself, there is almost another million living close around it. From towns and villages as far away as sixty miles, commuters come in every day of their lives, by two-hour steam railway journeys, to work in the city. It has a vast foreign population – other than Canadian – mostly Polish and south European, who live in communities packed all about. You can go up Toronto’s Yonge street by street car six miles. But up Woodward avenue you can go fifteen. The street numbers go to 3500 on Yonge street. But on Woodward avenue the 20,000’s are still in town.

As you get up into the five figures of street numbers you get into the three-figure values of houses. Queer little bird-boxes, close packed, with no hope, as there are in, say, Toronto’s shacktowns, of presently expanding into a brick residential district. Huge suburbs entirely of negroes. Swarming regions where even the policemen speak English with difficulty.

We Canadians have a peculiar impression that the United States is a sort of big British brother who has left home and is living by himself. It is with a peculiar apoplectic sensation that you are herded into a wicket at the Detroit border, while an Italian, wearing a blue uniform and the eagle on his cap, halts you, eyes you coldly and calculatingly, and asks you all about yourself and your assumption that you are free to go into the United States.

If you don’t look good to him, this swarthy gentleman with the flashing eye will put a head tax on you.

Thirty thousand Canadians commute daily from Windsor over to Detroit to work. And a peculiar turn of affairs is that several thousand Americans are moving across to the Canadian side to live, though their work is in Detroit.

Some of the emigration is not deliberate.

Dr. Prentiss, the director of immigration at Detroit, told us of a dentist and his wife from Nova Scotia who came on a tourist trip east as far as Detroit. They had friends in the city with whom they stayed a month. And they found an opportunity for establishing a practice in Detroit which looked good to them. So they decided to stay. But they had to return to Nova Scotia to have their passports made out.

How Population Drifts

A Guelph business man, on his way for a winter holiday in California, stopped off in Detroit to see some business friends. He played around his own line of business, and within a week saw certain chances that made him stay two and ultimately four weeks. He did not go on to California at all. He made up his mind to open a business like his own right in Detroit. He is now the head of one of the city’s thriving manufacturing firms.

“We have no end of cases,” says Dr. Prentiss, “of Canadians who came over on a holiday who remained. Of course, that is also true of Canada and our own people.”

One emigrant to the States takes another with him. That is shown in the above table of emigration for the past ten years. In the train going to Detroit we met a prominent young Ontario financial man and promoter, who has interests equally distributed in Canada and the States.

“Western Ontario,” said he, “with its natural drift of population to Detroit, its nearest big city, is one of the biggest contributors to emigration to the States. In my immediate family connection in Western Ontario there have been seven families move to Detroit. It all began with one, a printer, who went over and at once found a good job. His success inspired a cousin to do likewise. This success spread about amongst the relatives, and seven of them moved. Not all have been a success. Two have returned to Canada. But emigration moves that way. One marked success will sometimes take half the young men away from a village. But in the end there is still only the one marked success.”

It is possible those who decry this emigration to the States have some scheme whereby human nature can be muzzled and youth held down so that it will no longer want to roam and see the world.

For as far as other factors are involved, the emigration from Canada has fallen back to normal. Canadians who, in the confusion and excitement of the end of the war, when half a million ex-soldiers were cast upon a dominion all at once deflated from munitions wages, went south to where the greatest accumulation of war wealth in the world was located, are now on the home bend.

Let’s hope they are all bringing nice fat chunks of that war wealth back home with them.

Editor’s Notes: There must have been a political issue at the time that caused this article to be written.

Coboconk is a community in the Kawartha Lakes area.

“Here’s Hoping -“

December 19, 1925

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén