Canada is a country that has a highly varied topography, covering majority of the northern part of the North American continent (McNeese & Jensen 25). The country was initially inhabited by native Indians, commonly referred to as the Eskimos or Inuit (Kaufman & Macpherson 49). Despite the fact that Leif Eriksson, a Norse explorer reached the shores of Canada around the year 1000, the official history of the Whites in Canada began in the year 1497 (Baldwin, Baldwin & Baldwin 100). An Italian by the name John Cabot, serving Henry VII of England, reached Newfoundland or Nova Scotia in the course of that year (McNeese & Jensen 29). Later in 1534, the country was taken over by France, who later penetrated beyond the Great Lakes along the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico (McNeese & Jensen 35).
Canada possessed valuable fur trade and fisheries which led to a conflict between the French and English. In the year 1713, Nova Scotia, currently known as Acadia, Hudson Bay and Newfoundland were taken over by England (Kaufman & Macpherson 50). As the years went by, Canada became prosperous and more independent especially after the Treaty of Paris in 1763 which allowed England full control. However, the most noticeable changes with regards to Canada’s prosperity and transformations took place in the 1920’s (Baldwin, et al 105).
To some individuals, the 1920s were also known as ‘the Roaring Twenties’ or ‘the Jazz Age’ (McNeese & Jensen 37). This era saw Canada transitioning from war to peace by the end of World War I. The economy once again started to gain stability and saw more and more individuals afford new luxuries, for instance, radios and automobiles (Kaufman & Macpherson 53). It looked like prosperity would last forever and people indulged in the excitement of investing in stock markets. Getting into a spending frenzy, Canadians argued that they had made numerous sacrifices during World War I and now that the economy was on their side, it was their time to have some fun (Baldwin, et al 109). Apart from purchasing cars, jazz clubs came into existence as well as fashion. Tourism industry flourished as people from other nations could now tour Canada (McNeese & Jensen 40). In short, the 1920’s was a period of leisure, rebellion as well as consumerism.
Due to increasing demand, automobiles became more popular and cheap as the assembly line by Henry Ford also gained popularity (Kaufman & Macpherson 57). Highway construction became rampant all over Canada where some highways often connected the United States and Canada. The automobile industry was not the only one that was enjoying such prosperity in this era. Air transport saw pilots testing limits and planes being used to transport supplies to locations that were otherwise unreachable (Baldwin, et al 113). As mentioned before, people purchased or rather became owners of radios. Radios would link individuals across Canada by spreading popular culture, information and entertainment (McNeese & Jensen 45). Radio stations were also mostly dominated by American programming. Movies were also popular in this era and were mainly dominated by Hollywood. The entertainment and media industries were not the only ones that profited from 1920s Canadian prosperity era. Arts and sports became dominant and witnessed the first radio broadcast of hockey in the year 1923 (Kaufman & Macpherson 60). Modern Olympics were also much praised and on demand.
Perhaps the most memorable of all events during this particular era was the reform of women and their rights. Even though women had the right to vote in the course of the war, few were actually elected to the House of Commons or Provincial Governments (Baldwin, et al 116). As has been the case in the past, women in Canada before the 1920s were solely perceived to be homemakers and if they found an opportunity to work, they worked up to the time they were married, after which they were forced to become housewives (McNeese & Jensen 51). They were encouraged to give jobs back to men (Kaufman & Macpherson 64). The 1920s saw women being elected to Parliament, for instance, when Agnes Macphail was elected as the first female Member of Parliament (Baldwin, et al 120). Nellie McClung managed to secure a seat in Alberta in the year 1921 and was the third woman to be considered in the province’s legislature (Kaufman & Macpherson 66). On the Art scenes, Emily Carr came to be known as a painter of first rank (McNeese & Jensen 54). Even though women had been given their rights, Canada still remained dominated by men and women doctors as well as lawyers were grudgingly admitted to practice (Kaufman & Macpherson 68). Generally, more and more women were finding employment as sales help in stores, stenographers in business offices and also as factory workers since they were capable of performing such duties at much lower wages, as compared to their men counterparts (Baldwin, et al 125).
End of World War I in the year 1918 led to great instability as well as labor unrest in many nations. However, Canada managed to transit from war to peace time economies. The country witnessed a number of sectors prosper and enjoy unlimited luxuries, for instance, the automobile industry, cultural and artistic accomplishments, as well as the media. Canada’s economy greatly improved and stabilized in the 1920s. This was considered to be a form of a ‘green light’ that saw many Canadians getting into a spending craze. This particular era welcomed consumerism, leisure and rebellion at the same time.
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Damodaran, herson.Important moments in Canadian history. London: Dorling Kindersley. 2005. Print.
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McNeese, Tim and Jensen, Richard. World War I and the Roaring Twenties, 1914 – 1928. New York: InfoBase Publishing. 2010. Print.