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.
More Great Information Pages
About Owen Sound
12-year-old Walks to Owen Sound in 1851 from the journal of a teenage boy’s experience travelling with his brother in the untamed Upper Canadian wilderness.
In the 1920s, Owen Sound got New Elevators. After losing the CPR elevators to fire, the community fought hard to get new elevators for their harbour and improve the community’s economy.
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 1944-1945 Grey North By-Election would surprise Prime Minister King and all of Canada as the Grey North electorate refused to be dictated to by Ottawas political elites.
The were 1950s a Decade of Change in the Owen Sound area. A local boy starred in the NHL; there was a significant industrial change; schools were standing to experience the baby boom.
1960s: Owen Sound’s Education Expansion: 1960s Owen Sound was a period of growth and one result of this was a need for the expansion of education services for the growing population.
1960s Owen Sound marked a period of change and new growth to the commercial and industrial life that would impact the citizens of Owen Sound and change the patterns of doing business.
The Bible was the Law in the 1840s in this region because the region was unrepresented by the government peace and justice were community responsibilities.
Blazes! Fires were a problem in the early years in the Owen Sound area, buildings were often made of wood and firefighting equipment water sources were inadequate were.
Brooke: A brief history of an important, yet distinctly different, community that became a key element in Owen Sound’s development as a important Georgian Bay port city.
Charles Rankin, I Presume: October 7, 1840 marked the meeting of Land Agent John Telfer and surveyor Charles Rankin on the banks of the Sydenham River and the founding of Owen Sound.
The cost of living in 1900 in Owen Sound may seem great, but when you take into consideration other factors, things were perhaps not all that wonderful.
The CPR Grain Elevator Fire of 1911 spelled the end of Owen Sound’s role as the eastern terminus of the CPR Great Lakes Fleet.
Black History: Emancipation Day celebrates the abolition of slavery and it continues to be an annual celebration in many locations that were in some way, or another touched by the impact of slavery.
Black History of Owen Sound: Version 2: There is some debate about the first black citizen in the Owen Sound area. Here is more information for your consideration.
A Curvy Route to Toronto provided a rail connection between Owen Sound and Toronto, the curvy part was thrilling, but beautiful for the passengers and strenuous for the crew.
Billy Bishop: Owen Sound Hero earned national and international fame as a World War One Fighter pilot and used his high profile to aid in the World War Two effort.
John Harrison – A Tough Owen Sound Pioneer whose grit and determination created a prosperous life for himself and his family in a new community.
William Harrison, The Source of John Harrison’s Grit: details the influence of John’s father, William Harrison, on John and his siblings.
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.
Black Clawson Kennedy: An Iconic Owen Sound Industry provided income for area residents and economic development for the community for almost 150 years.
Amalgamation In and Around Owen Sound is not an unusual happening. Some form of boundary changes have occurred at many different times over the years.
Canada’ First Pharmacy Chain Store: The Owen Sound-based drug store chain of Parker and Cattle is credited with being the first pharmacy chain store enterprise in Canada.
DC Taylor: Owen Sound Entrepreneur was not only progressive businessman, he was also an important contributor to the social and cultural fabric of his community.
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.
Newspapers hold a special place in the history of any community, and the Owen Sound Sun Times, and its predecessors, beginning with the Comet, are no exception.
Owen Sound Businesses: 1920s were owned and operated by families whose deep roots in the community and their efforts had created the backbone of the community and brought success to the port city.
Owen Sound’s centennial celebrations in 1957 brought the community together for events such big name entertainers, sports competitions, street dances and much more in honour of the community’s past and projecting the city’s bright future.
Owen Sound: Dry Gulch Canada Learn the reason why Owen Sound was the last city in the grasp of the temperance movement.
First Cars in Owen Sound could be purchased for less than $500.00!
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Owen Sound’s lacrosse tradition is steeped with great teams and players who deserve more attention than history has given it.
The Owen Sound Library has been the focal point of life in the Owen Sound region for many decades, as a treasure trove of entertaining and educational materials.
Owen Sound’s Police Force – The Big Four were legendary in their maintaining the peace efforts in a rowdy Great Lakes port in the early 1900s.
Hillcrest School Memories a look back at my public school days when Owen Sound’s Hillcrest Public School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998.
News of War: The 1940s was supposed to provide the world with a respite after the hardship of the 1930s depression. However World War Two brought more adversity.
Owen Sound 1840 Onward! From a clearing in the Georgian Bay wilderness to a booming port city the 1800s were a time of growth and prosperity.
Owen Sound’s First Newspaper: The Comet came into existence a mere 10 years after the first settlers braved the wilderness that would become the Grey and Bruce region.
Owen Sound’s First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.
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.
Owen Sound CPR Strike in 1908 immobilized harbour activities in that important Georgian Bay port, the CPR’s eastern Great Lakes terminus.
Owen Sound CPR Link began with a bang, suffered a setback, and ended with a whimper.
Owen Sound Entrepreneurs: S.J. Parker & Richard Notter used their wealth and their friendships to built many community-oriented businesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Owen Sound 1920 Stories provide an interesting look at the community as it was about to become a city.
Owen Sound 1920s: Optimism abounded in the port city as a new decade began, The town was becoming a city and the economic outlook seemed bright.
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Owen Sound Stories: On the Attack! Throughout the history of the community, citizens were not afraid to go on the attack to promote the needs of their town.
Owen Sound Street Names honour the individuals who made a contribution to Owen Sound’s development. Today the streets are numbered to help visitors find their way.
O.S.C.V.I.: the History of an Owen Sound High School details from the very beginning the establishment of a high school in the community.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 Owen Sound details life in the last wilderness in Upper Canada in the 1840s.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 (Part 2) continues the memories of Elizabeth Byth as she encountered life in the Upper Canada wilderness that became Owen Sound.
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U.S. President Taft Visited Owen Sound Ontario, a Georgian Bay port in a momentous winter of events in 1920 as Owen Sound celebrated its incorporation as a city.
Ship arrivals meant full shelves in stores and larders as pioneers and shopkeepers eagerly awaited goods to fill their depleted necessities
Some Interesting 20th Century Events in Owen Sound: One, in particular featured a mayor acting to avert a major labour-related confrontation.
Sunday Work Laws in the 19th Century in Owen Sound and Grey County region were very strict, with no exceptions allowed.
The 1940’s: An Eventful Decade in Owen Sound and Grey County: A war; a surprising political event; sports celebrations and much more.
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Political Corruption in 1852 Owen Sound? Does it seem possible that this could happen in a pioneer community on the Georgian Bay shores? Read on, and decide.
Emily Pankhurst Visits Owen Sound. The well-known suffragette visited Owen Sound and spoke not only about suffrage, but the bolshevik threat.
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Boosterism in 1890s Owen Sound targeted promoting economic development in Owen Sound. The port city showcased what it had to offer investors and visitors alike.
A pioneer home was very utilitarian. It served the pioneer family’s essential needs, while the work of clearing the land and planting crops took priority.
Pioneer justice might be described as ruthless. But the question remains, did they always get the right man?
CPR Grain Elevator Fire in 1911 in Owen Sound harbour would have a profound impact on that Georgian Bay community.
Reverend Ryerson Visits Owen Sound and despite a great reception from the citizens of the community, he posts a negative newspaper story of the community.
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Fenians: A Threat: The threat of an attack by Fenians was very real in Upper Canada in the 1860s and this was especially true in port communities like Owen Sound.
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Pioneer industry: William Kennedy William Kennedy’s efforts to build an important foundry and machine shop on the banks of Owen Sound’s harbour.
Pioneer Resort: King’s Royal Park From 1840 meeting to opulent pioneer resort, the citizens of Owen Sound have always worked hard to promote the economic growth and development of their community, and their part of the Georgian Bay shoreline.
Sailing stories: Owen Sound Shipbuilding from the earliest time of settlement busy shipyards dotted the Owen Sound bay where shipbuilding took place, sometimes at a feverish pace.
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The summer of 1844 was definitely not a picnic for the early settlers in the Georgian Bay region around pioneer settlement that would become Owen Sound.
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Owen Sound Ontario: A Unique Perspective: Book provides a unique and humorous perspective about this Georgian Bay port and hockey hotbed.
Water Quality in Owen Sound has been an issue since the 1840s, two Owen Sound entrepreneurs in the 1870s attempted to rectify the situation.
Owen Sound, located on beautiful Georgian Bay offers a wide variety of entertainment and shopping delights for visitors of all ages. The city and its surrounding area has a rich history, parks and other natural areas for bird watchers, hikers, cross country skiers, etc.