1949.21 | Box

1800-1999, 19th century
29.2 x 21.5 cm
Gift of Captain Ronald V. Bennett
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

Late 1933 and early 1934 proved a turning point in the R.B. Bennett administration and in the world at large. In Europe, Hitler and Mussolini tightened their grip on Germany and Italy. On the other side of the globe, the Japanese already occupied Manchuria and looked to other Asian conquests. R.B. Bennett (1870-1947) may have looked at this Japanese box with wonderment as international events swirled around him.

In the United States, still wallowing in economic stagnation, a fascinating new program under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945) seemed to be lifting the gloom and spirit of despair. William Herridge, the Canadian minister in Washington, watched with growing interest the effect of Roosevelt's buoyant character and his New Deal platform of unprecedented government spending. In 1931,Herridge married Bennett's sister Mildred (1889-1938), thereby gaining ready and person access to the Prime Minister's ear. Herridge urged his boss to take a radical step and to break with traditional conservative values of individual initiative that had not worked.

In desperation, Bennett listened. Over Christmas 1934, while he was visiting his brother Ronald Bennett (1876-1961) in New Brunswick, Bennett's aides put the final touches on speeches that were to herald, without Cabinet or party consultation, the Canadian New Deal and set the Prime Minister on the successful path to re-election.

  • What

    Japanese lacquer is a waterproof varnish made by layering numerous coats of the treated sap of a tree indigenous to China and later introduced to Japan and is somewhat different than lacquers used in Europe and North America.

  • Where

    The donor, sea captain Ronald V. Bennett, made his home in New Brunswick.

  • When

    Not part of the original R.B. Bennett bequest to the New Brunswick Museum, this box was donated to the museum in 1949.

  • Who

    Captain Ronald V. Bennett, a brother of R.B. Bennett, donated this box to the New Brunswick Museum.