1	          October 1993
     3	                    Struggling to Survive
     4	          Economic and Social Conditions in the
     5	          Canadian West During the Depression
     7	                         ....edited by Marijan Salopek
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    11	                             EXTRACT
    12	                     .
    14	     How families in stricken prairie areas have managed to live
    15	during these trying times.
    16	     Those too proud to accept relief have exhibited considerable
    17	ingenuity in devising ways and means of augmenting the family
    18	income.
    19	     For one thing the old spinning wheel has come back into use
    20	again. In a small Manitoba town a blacksmith took advantage of
    21	this sudden demand for spinning wheels to revamp his shop into a
    22	spinning wheel factory and business boomed so quickly he had to
    23	take on additional help.
    24	     In the Edenwold district, east of Regina, one family with
    25	butter and eggs to sell debated whether it was worth while to
    26	spend the money for gasoline to take their produce to Regina. 
    27	They solved the problem by filling the old Model T Ford with cut
    28	firewood and the sale value of the wood paid the expenses of the
    29	trip.
    30	     Another farmer near Rouleau, Sask., despaired of selling his
    31	hogs in the ordinary way for the price was at rock bottom.  He
    32	conceived the idea of manufacturing the entire hog into sausage
    33	and the word spread that his sausage was good, so he was forced
    34	to go out and buy the hogs of his neighbours.
    35	     The spinning industry was revived because the price of wool
    36	was so low as to make it unprofitable to sell. The government
    37	instructors quickly adapted their training to the changed
    38	conditions and showed the farm women how to make blankets out of
    39	the raw wool.
    40	     Unable to buy new cars and by the same token unable to buy
    41	gasoline for the old car, or even to buy a buggy, the farmers
    42	have taken the engines out of their old Model T Fords, hitched a
    43	tongue and whiffle-trees to the front axle and called it a
    44	"Bennett" buggy.  Others have put a seat on the front wheels of a
    45	Model T and have christened this an "Anderson" cart.  Probably
    46	Premiers Bennett and Anderson will not feel flattered at the use
    47	of their names in this connection, but it is a reflection of the
    48	spirit of the times....
    49	     One item of expense the farmer has eliminated is that of
    50	flour. With thousands of bushels in his granaries that the market
    51	price doomed to remain there, the farmer took five or ten bushels
    52	to the small grist mill for his own flour.  If he had no money to
    53	pay for the milling he left the bran and shorts with the miller
    54	in payment.
    55	     The average farm family has limited its purchases to sugar
    56	and tea, for which no substitutes can be found on the land.  A
    57	few dozen eggs or a few pounds of butter can take care of these
    58	requirements.  Some enterprising businessmen, such as local
    59	theatre and skating rink managers offered to take wheat and
    60	barley as payment for admission prices.
    61	     They tell the story of a Manitoba farmer who met two
    62	acquaintances outside a beer parlor.
    63	     "Lets go in for a beer," he suggested.
    64	The three quaffed their bottles of beer and when the host arose
    65	to go he turned to the hotel-keeper.
    66	     "I'll bring you ten bushels of barley to pay for that." he
    67	said.
    68	     Until organized relief measures came to the aid of the
    69	farmer the fuel problem was his greatest worry.  You can drive a
    70	day at a time in some parts of Saskatchewan and never see a tree
    71	or a bush.  Those farmers burned coal in the good days, but in
    72	their necessity they had no money with which to buy coal.  So
    73	they burned barley.
    74	     But they have caught a vision of better times, with the
    75	upward trend of the wheat market.  Those courageous enough to
    76	hold their crop over from last year have sold it this summer,
    77	mostly in small lots, for a carload shipment would excite comment
    78	and perhaps invoke a seizure order from the bank, the implement
    79	agent or the mortgage company.  So they have sold a lot of their
    80	grain a hundred bushels at a time and they are paying their small
    81	debts, preferably their store bills.  They feel the banks, the
    82	implement companies and the mortgage companies can wait a bit
    83	longer for their money....
    84	     There will be money to spend in western Canada this year if
    85	the market price of grain keeps up.  The farmer is starved for
    86	everything that contributes to the comfort and well-being of his
    87	family and as soon as he gets some surplus cash he will turn it
    88	loose into the avenues of trade....
    90	Source:
    91	     Frank H. Williams, , 2 September 1933.
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