In the 1930s in Canada, things are bad. The Great Depression, which resulted from world wide economies that grew too quickly and largely on speculation, was ripping across the nation with an average of around 20-25% unemployment. RB Bennett’s government takes power and tries a series of measures to make things better. for most though, the “dirty 30s” are just a long decade of poor reforms, labour camps and struggling to get by. On top of that, a series of droughts caused the prairies to dry up and crops to fail. In 1935, a group of men from a BC labour camp hop on a train to take their complaints to Ottawa. By the time they hit Regina, they are 2000 strong- and on Dominion Day, the RCMP move in on RB Bennett’s insistence and a riot ensues. The Regina Riot left one police officer dead and many dead and wounded.
Debate in the House of Commons, Mr. MacInnis, June 26, 1935
“They easiest way to provoke a person into taking action which possibly he should not take is to ignore his rightful claims. I contend that these men in the camps have rightful and just claims which have been ignored by this government.”
1. Why bother hopping a train and going (or trying to) all the way to Ottawa?
2. What would provoke a riot between police officers and the “trekkers”?
3. What measures did RB Bennett’s government try in order to restore economic prosperity in Canada?
4. Why did many feel disconnected from Bennett’s government?
5. It’s easy to vilify RB Bennett but who else was responsible for some of the strike during the “dirty 30s?”