Chapter 7 the interwar years
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Chapter 7 The Interwar Years. 1919-1938. Land Based Industry. Newfoundland government tried to create new job opportunities for a growing population. The staple industry- the fishery- could no longer completely support Newfoundlanders, especially with falling fish prices.

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Chapter 7 The Interwar Years

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Chapter 7 the interwar years

Chapter 7The Interwar Years


Land based industry

Land Based Industry

  • Newfoundland government tried to create new job opportunities for a growing population.

  • The staple industry- the fishery- could no longer completely support Newfoundlanders, especially with falling fish prices.

  • Business people tried to create economic diversification– jobs in different sectors of the economy.



  • Copper and iron were established as valuable resources.

  • Buchans- 1925- ore contained zinc, copper, gold and silver.

  • The town was built and owned by the company and developed rapidly.

  • In less than a year they had a mill, church, school, hospital and hydroelectric plant.

Chapter 7 the interwar years

St. Lawrence

  • Discovery of fluorspar led to the opening of the mine in 1933.

  • Head of the mine Walter Siebert, demanded that workers mine 2000 tons of the ore before getting paid.

  • Desperate workers agreed.

  • Workers only received 15cents per hour.

  • The first mines were open pit and then later went far beneath the surface which had devastating effects on worker health.

Bell island

Bell Island

  • Iron ore mine from 1895 -1966.

  • Located in Conception Bay - tunnels would snake out 5 kilometers under the sea.

  • Two 10 hour shifts a day (not including 1 hour lunch breaks) six days a week until 1943.

  • Switch to three eight hour shifts but must make twenty car quota.

  • Very few safety standards for clothing until 1950s.

    • Most of today’s mining occurs in Labrador.



  • After WWI Grand Falls and Corner Brook became important centers for newsprint.

  • Expansion of forest industries led to the growth of new towns.

  • Greater access to interior land and use of resources affected the traditional aboriginal way of life.

  • A “Grand Falls Job” was considered a comfortable, safe and secure job.

    • Grand falls mill closed in 2009.



  • High demand for lumber caused creation of 200 sawmills from 1890-1900.

  • International demand for newsprint created need for a second pulp and paper mill.

  • Corner Brook mill opened in 1925, many people moved there to work in the mill or the hydroelectric plants that had been built to supply the power.

  • Mi’kmaq also worked as loggers as fur prices fell.

Forestry towns

Forestry Towns

  • Glenwood and Badger = logging towns

  • Deer Lake and Bishop’s Falls grew around hydroelectric plants.

  • Bishop’s Falls was also the site of a wood pulp mill. In 1911, it began to pump pulp to the mill in Grand Falls but stopped in 1952 and mill closed.

  • Botwood became important as a port for Grand Falls to support the mill.



  • Pre-1900: interior land home to Innu and some trappers.

  • High fur prices and forestry projects after 1900 led to a population increase in the Upper Lake Melville area.

  • This led to problems: fewer Caribou made Innu suffer causing them to move to the coast.

Labrador boundary dispute

Labrador Boundary Dispute

  • Canada and Newfoundland argued over interior land.

  • Nfld. allowed loggers to cut trees west of the Hamilton river which Canada claimed was part of Quebec.

  • Question was put to the British Privy council in 1907 (highest court in Britain).

  • Dispute resolved in 1927 NL awarded current boundary (Quebec still not happy !!).

  • NL granted the coast of Labrador and all the land area where rivers flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Industrial towns

Industrial Towns

Unlike fishery, men working in mining and pulp and paper had a steady income and earned higher pay.

These towns were company towns and all areas were controlled by the company – ex. Buchans.

Although there were some negative feelings, services such as schools, hospitals, churches, etc. were better.

Higher standard of living and increased awareness of urban lifestyles.

Women in towns

Women in Towns

  • Unlike inshore fishery, where women took an active role in curing fish on the shore, women in industrial towns cared for children and looked after the household.

  • Often, only men were employed; some young women moved to St. John’s, Canada or the United States to find work.

1929 tidal wave

1929 Tidal wave

  • November 18, 1929.

  • Underwater earthquake about 400 km offshore caused a tsunami that hit the Burin Peninsula at 100 km/hr.

  • Waves measured 7 to 15 meters high (21 to 45 feet).

  • Result: 27 dead, much destruction over 40 communities including houses, schools, boats, etc.

The great depression

The Great Depression

  • Major downturn in the economy.

  • Demand for fish decreased, prices fell, production declined and layoffs were common.

  • Government revenue declined and they were too deep in debt to borrow any more (100 million by 1930).

  • Outport communities relied on cultivating land, fishing for themselves,etc. to survive.

  • Urban areas (ex. St. John’s) relied on church groups and the generosity of family and neighbors.

Going on the dole

“Going on the Dole”

  • This term refers to people who were forced to go on government relief.

  • Amount depended on number of family members:

  • family of four received $7.70/month while a family of ten received $17.00

  • This was considered a disgrace and not easy to receive as people had to prove they were in dire need.

St john s riot of 1932

St. John’s Riot of 1932

  • People were frustrated and angry at their poor circumstances – broke into stores, destroyed govt. offices, protested.

  • Government tried to raise funds by taxing imported food goods, but this made essential food items more expensive.

  • They also laid off government workers to save money, adding to the unemployed.

  • Accusations of corruption against PM Richard Squires made matters worse

St john s riot of 19321

St. John’s Riot of 1932

  • April 5, 1932 a peaceful protest was to take place at the Colonial building.

  • Tensions were high and a crowd grew outside.

  • Police cleared the steps with batons and protesters stormed the building.

  • Several people, including police, were injured and the PM barely escaped out the back of the building and brought to safety.

Commission of government

Commission of Government

  • Commission of Government was appointed by Britain to replace the responsible government.

  • Control of the country returned to Britain in exchange for financial help.

  • Consisted of a British governor, 3 British representatives and 3 Newfoundland representatives.

  • Only needed permission from Dominions Office in London – no consent from NL people. NL unable to vote for their leaders.

Commission of government1

Commission of Government

  • While not a democracy, it did set out to help NL.

  • Land Settlement Scheme – created farming opportunities and settled unemployed people on the land.

  • Education – passed a law making education free and compulsory for all school-aged children. Also, increased the number of schools.

Commission of government2

Commission of Government

  • Law Enforcement – established Ranger Force to help with law enforcement throughout the island.

  • Health Care: improved health care – wanted to fight disease, provide immunizations and diet supplements. Set up Dept. of Public Health & Welfare.

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