What Happened in Halifax Riot? Diamonds Found in Labrador? Kissing Is Now Legal in Toronto B.C. Japs Vote Return to Japan
IN FOOT-DEEP letters a Halifax optician scrawled, “Why?” across the smashed remains of his boarded-up store front. Other merchants, clearing ankle-deep glass and debris from before their wrecked shops, wondered, too. Why had hysterical mobs, spearheaded by sailors, destroyed and looted the heart of Halifax in a several-million dollar V-E Day blitz? Haligonians, wading through havoc unmatched since the 1917 explosion, could find no convincing answer.
Did servicemen feel merchants had overcharged them? Was it because liquor shops failed to reopen without advance notice after a dry week end? Was it high rentals, overcrowding, absence of beer parlors, blue Sundays? Was it because theatres and restaurants closed down as their weary staffs celebrated victory, or the sight of the boards which merchants had placed over plate-glass windows? Was it the long queues, scarcity of food, crowded tram cars? Or was it merely the fulfillment of a threat, often abed by servicemen through 53^ years of war, that they would tear Halifax apart?
Consensus was that not one but a variety of these reasons led to the rioting, looting and senseless destruction which turned Halifax’s V-E celebration into the seaport’s most humiliating day in its 200-year history.
None were more humiliated than women volunteers in the hostels, who worked long nights after long workdays to feed and entertain servicemen. Those who had opened up their homes to servicemen were stunned. Shame was written on the faces of sailors, soldiers and airmen who had no part in the riots.
Who would foot the bill? That was the question uppermost in the minds of merchants who foresaw financial ruin unless someone else paid the staggering damages.
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J. L. Ilsley, who flew to Halifax and toured miles of debris-littered streets, said: “The Government will not try to dodge or shift any responsibility.” Mr. Ilsley announced a program of temporary bank loans, backed by the Government, to tide merchants over the reconstruction period.
Meanwhile a Royal Commission, under Supreme Court Justice R. L. Kellock, began sittings to determine the guilt.
Whatever the outcome Halifax will never forget May 7, 1945.
* * *
Along New Brunswick’s black salmon streams, guides are booked up for the summer, and American millionaires are coming back to the Restigouche, Miramichi, Upsalquitch and Tobique Rivers to receive their annual dividend on a $10,000,000 investment.*
The list of members of the Restigouche Riparian Association reads like a blue book of New York society. Names like Vanderbilt, Pulitzer and Whitney are included in the membership rolls of a club that holds title to
some of the finest fishing pools in the world.
With the relaxation of travel restrictions these wealthy businessmen and sportsmen are returning to their summer haunts, in the northern part of the province, where it is estimated that every fish they bring ashore costs them $1,000.
These Americans take their fishing seriously. Besides paying a tidy sum for individual fishing rights they have built palatial “camps” and their own ice plant for packaging catches and sending them home to friends. These sportsmen even have their own private police force. They once spent nearly $5,000 in tracking down and catching a poacher.
Rural electrification is high on the list of reconstruction plans for Prince Edward Island. Providing rural areas with the conveniences that are commonplace in towns and cities is seen by the Government as a necessary step in encouraging returned men to settle on farms.
Cliief difficulty is that the island province has no hydro power; its electric light and power rates are the highest in Canada. The average charge
for power in P. E. I. is 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour as against .40 in Quebec and .62 in Ontario. (Ontario domestic rates are somewhat lower than those of Quebec.)
However, the Island Government plans to go ahead with its own scheme to electrify at least one county. The Mount Pleasant Airport is expected to close soon and the Government will purchase and operate the steam turbine which has been used to light the airport.
Also under way is a scheme to harness the tide waters of the Petitcodiac River in New Brunswick. If this proved practicable Prince Edward Island power could be supplied from that source,
“Go North, young man, not West,” is the advice being given Quebeckers entering civilian life after overseas service. And North in this case means Labrador.
Big things, Montreal mining men say, await the veterans who venture into that bleak country—gold, iron, copper and perhaps diamonds! A recent survey, it is reported, revealed vast deposits of copper and iron ore— sufficient to warrant wholesale exploration of the entire country.
Possibility of a diamond deposit is strengthened by a trapper’s discovery of coarse diamonds in an Indian camp. The Indians, who said they found them on the ground, thought they were pieces of glass and wore them as necklace ornaments. Several of the stones were brought to Montreal, where inspection revealed them to be of promising commercial value.
* * *
Getting married in Quebec today is an expensive luxury, according to Louis Philippe Lizotte, M.L.A. for Kamouraska. Recently Mr. Lizotte told the Quebec Legislature that one of his electors, “and there will be more,” had cancelled his July wedding plans indefinitely.
Said the elector, as related by Mr. Lizotte:
“The Union Nationale has taxed marriage. I wanted to buy an engagement ring and a wedding ring; both are taxed. I planned a honeymoon, bu, for that I needed a valise; Mr. Duplessis taxes valises. I wanted to buy something for a little celebration and found I would have to pay $1 for a liquor permit; I wanted to buy a washing machine for my bride-to-be, I wanted to give my intended an electric iron; they’re all taxed. I wanted my bride to have a fur-trimmed goingaway coat, but Mr. Duplessis says that, too, is a luxury. Even a handbag for my mother-in-law would come under the new luxury tax ... I just can’t afford it.”
Replied Premier Duplessis: Quebec needs cash, even if the path to the marriage altar is strewn with taxes.
Toronto, Canada’s second city and Ontario’s capital, appears to have an unfailing habit of putting its civic foot in its mouth when it comes to a question of public morals.
No sooner had the country’s laughter subsided at (1) Toronto’s traffic by-law (since recalled) which prohibited pedestrians running for a streetcar, and (2)
the Toronto Police Force attempt to prove that an original copy of John Milton was a secondhand article rather than an antique, than the Queen City came up with a new one—kissing in public.
It all started when a returning serviceman bussed his wife affectionately in the Union Station. A uniformed station attendant ordered the couple from the rotunda and told them to do their kissing elsewhere.
Civic reaction was typical. In solemn session Toronto’s City Council passed a motion approving “in general” the practice of kissing in public, giving special benediction when the principals haven’t, seen each other for a long time. A rider provided for censorship of anyone attempting to interfere with the custom.
Manitoba’s seaport on Hudson Bay will this summer see the first oceangoing ships since 1939. It was the threat of Nazi submarines, prowling off the unprotected entrance to the Strait, that kept freighters away from Churchill for six years. Now once again wheat will move the short route from the prairies to Europe.
The Hudson’s Bay Route Association, with the blessing of the three prairie governments, is working for a bigger volume of both exports and imports than the relatively puny quantities which passed through the port between 1932 and 1939. It particularly wants inbound cargoes for Churchill. English toffee and Scotch whisky used to be two of the main items, and they would be welcome again to Westerners. But few believe that a seaport can thrive on toffee and whisky alone. Bulkier stuff is demanded: machinery, plate glass, linens and woollens, binder twine for the prairie harvest, steam coal and perhaps molasses and tropical fruits from the West Indies.
Realists about Churchill know that although it is one of the finest natural harbors in the world, it can never bask in the full sunshine of international trade unless the navigation season can be stretched at both ends. Marine insurance formerly restricted sailings through Hudson Strait to a little over two months—between early August and mid-October.
Many argue that a five or six months’ season is not an impossibility, and they base their claim on data gathered by American Army Air Force men who used Churchill as a base during the last years of the German war. Part of the plan would be to employ patrol planes to spot open lanes through the ice fields while the Strait is still partly congested.
* * *
Saskatchewan’s old gold coin trick has been solved—although the solution still baffles many prairie residents.
A jeweller, with branch stores in three cities in the province, advertised that he was prepared to pay double the face value of any old gold coins. In other words, he would pay $40 for a $20-gold piece. And he did a big business.
But the people were puzzled. They knew that if they took the coins to a bank all they would receive was the coin’s face value. They also knew that under Canadian law it is illegal for jewellers to melt down gold coins to retrieve the gold content. How then did the jeweller make a profit?
Newspapers took up the puzzle. They interviewed the jeweller and were advised that he was acting as purchasing agent for a man in eastern Canada, who was gambling on the value of gold going up after the war. There is no price
ceiling on gold coins and jewellers may buy them, to hold or to resell, without contravening any law or regulation.
At present a $20-gold piece contains gold valued at $37.50. The eastern speculator, who is willing to pay $40 for $37.50 worth of gold, is apparently planning to hold the coins on the chance that their gold content will increase in value after the war.
And contrary to a widely held misapprehension the Easterner will not be breaking the law by hoarding gold coins. It is legal in Canada to be in possession of gold coins, although their possession is prohibited in the United States.
A hunt is on in Saskatchewan to locate the nesting place of North America’s largest land bird, the whooping crane. The bird is threatened with extinction and, according to the National Audubon Society of New York, only 17 of the species remain in existence.
The Yorkton Natural Historical Society is seeking the birds’ nesting site, which is believed to be in the vicinity of Yorkton, in eastern Saskatchewan.
Field marks of the whooping crane are its large size, pure white plumage with black wing tips and a red head. The bird flies with its long neck stretched straight out and long legs trailing straight behind, which distinguishes it from swans and pelicans.
* * *
Big news for the vast Peace River country came with the announcement that a road is to be built from Dawson Creek to Prince George—the Pacific coast outlet northerners have been seeking for more than 30 years. Construction will start in July.
The new highway, which will require three years to build and will cost between five and six millions, will connect with the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek, and will tap a potentially rich area that lies partly in Alberta and partly in British Columbia.
Peace River residents say the Pacific outlet will encourage settlement and will guarantee that at least part of the $130,000,000 Alaska Highway will be maintained.
* * *
As a practical application of the good neighbor policy, Canada will supply water this summer for the sugar-beet and alfalfa growers around Saco, Montana. And there will be no charge for the service.
A dam in the American community was not completed in time to catch this year’s spring runoff, so officials of the Canadian Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration agreed to release water from a reservoir in the Cypress Hills, near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.
Water will flow down Frenchman River across the International Boundary to irrigate the fields of Montana farmers.
Unknown to millions of west coast residents a king’s ransom in furs recently swam silently up the British Columbia coast, bound for the rookeries of the Prihilof Islands, prehistoric | breeding ground for the Alaska fur seal.
Fisheries officials, who, in patrol boats, escorted and protected the migration, estimated that more than three million aquatic mammals made up the vast herd. Under the terms of an international agreement Canada will receive 20% of the seals slaughtered, the remainder going to the U. S, Size of the kill is determined by the extent of the herd.
Only private individuals permitted to kill seals on their own are the West Coast Indians, and hunting must be done with spears thrown from a canoe.
The last Indian hunt was in 1939, when 73 pelts were marketed. Since then the Indians have found it more profitable to work in war industries.
A surprisingly large number of Canadian-born Japanese have voted to return to Japan rather than remain in Canada following the end of hostilities. The vote was taken by the RCMP in the interior of British Columbia, on instructions from the Federal Govern-
ment. Japanese who elected to remain in this country were registered for work on the prairies and in eastern Canada. Figures still are secret.
The New Canadian, official organ of the Japanese deported from the coast, states 70% of all B.C. Japanese want to return to Japan. The magazine expressed regret at the decision of the Nisei (Canadian-born Japanese) to turn their backs on their adopted land. Said the newspaper: “This decision reflects not only upon themselves but also on the country they are giving up.”
On the other hand, the majority of west coast residents approved the vote’s result .
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