The 1930s Were Not All Bad there were some successes in the Owen Sound area and there was one natural phenomenon, that was unusual to the region that occurred.
The crash of the stock market at the end of the 1920s marked the beginning of an era of tough times in this region and throughout Canada.
Although the thirties have been regarded as one of the bleakest eras in our history, there were also some highlights in the Owen Sound area.
The front page of the Jan. 16, 1930 edition of the Sun Times trumpeted a success story about a local industry. The headline read "Big Furniture Shipment Largest Ever in Canada." Amidst great fanfare and a large crowd, a CPR train chugged out of town pulling 14 freight cars, each with a large banner attached to their sides stating that their contents were the product of the North America Bent Chair Company. The cars carried furniture for markets in every province west of Quebec. 'This was the largest shipment of furniture ever in the commercial history of Canada to that point in time.
The freight cars held dining room, bedroom and kitchen furniture, desks, Windsor chairs, as well as reed and fibre furniture. This large shipment had created work not only for many workers at the North American Bent Chair facility, but also many area lumbering interests had been kept busy providing raw materials to the company.
Some of the furniture had been made from birch from company-owned forests in the Georgian Bay region. As well, large quantities of maple and other hardwoods had been procured from other sawmills in the area.
To complete the huge consignment, the company had imported walnut, oak, and gum from the United States.
Five years later, the Oct. 10, 1935 edition of the Sun Times reported that one of the largest consignments of lumber in the past decade was delivered to the Meaford docks.
Over one million feet of lumber was delivered to the Knight Manufacturing and Lumber Company. The newspaper reported that many area men were employed by the company to deliver the lumber to their plant. Two weeks later, the tug. Queen towed a scow carrying another 90,000 feet of lumber to the Knight Company.
Despite all of these reports of success for area businesses in the 1930s, there was still a lot of residents who were experiencing hard times. It was estimated that in the winter of 1933-34 there were 2,000 area residents receiving public relief.
The 1930s may have been an era of tough economic times for most people, but leisure activities blossomed for some sectors of the society.
Lacrosse, hockey, baseball and football were all popular during this decade, but golf was also growing in popularity.
The Owen Sound Golf and Country Club was enjoying success, and to meet the demands of the growing number of golfers, a new golf course was planned in Amabel Township, a short distance to the west of Owen Sound, about halfway between the village of Hepworth and Sauble Beach.
In 1935, Mr. Bald purchased 50 acres of land to start a golf course. Unfortunately, he died in the fall of that year. The Sauble Golf Course was then sold to Albert Turney of Hamilton. During the next few years, the course opened each summer, but a lack of tourists to the area during this period spelled economic problems and in 1946 it was sold to Harry Weiler for the taxes owing.
In 1938 area hockey teams could look forward to honing their skills in a new state-of-the-art arena which was built for $50,000 in downtown Owen Sound. The new ice palace, which had been erected in a few months, contained the first artificial ice plant in western Ontario north of Kitchener.
In late October 1935, the Owen Sound area felt a shock wave which was not related to the economic turmoil of that era. An earthquake shook up area citizens. The tremors were felt as far away as Meaford.
As the 1930s came to a close, economic prospects seemed brighter. But there were dark storm clouds on the horizon. Before the decade could pass into history the world was embroiled in a war which would impact on most families in Grey and Bruce.
The information used in this article came from many sources. However, the Owen Sound Sun Times and Green Meadows and Golden Sands, the History of Amabel Township were of primary importance.
A version of "The 1930s Were Not All Bad," originally appeared in my Local History column in the October 22, 1999 edition of the Owen Sound Sun Times.
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The 1930s Were Not All Bad there were some successes in the Owen Sound area and there was one natural phenomenon, that was unusual to the region that occurred.
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John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.
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Jimmy Grant was a high wire walker who was a fearless athlete who faced all challenges without a worry of the possible fatal consequences of his daredevil actions.
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Owen Sound Tavern Bylaw (1857) tried to tackle the issue of monitoring taverns in the Upper Canadian pioneer wilderness.
Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes even using harsh measures.
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