C-000623 | W.L. Mackenzie King driving the Bennett buggy in Sturgeon Valley, SK

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W.L. Mackenzie King driving the Bennett buggy in Sturgeon Valley, SK
1934, 20th century
This artefact belongs to : © National Archives of Canada
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Keys to History

The Depression hit no part of Canada harder than the Prairie provinces. There were dust storms on the drought-stricken southern plains. Grasshoppers were a widespread plague. But the greatest foe was low prices, especially for wheat.

The world price for wheat averaged $1.02 per bushel in 1925-29. It averaged 35 cents in 1932. Wheat prices did not really recover until after war began in 1939.

Because of the drought in southern Saskatchewan, average yields per acre also dropped. The effects on farm incomes were devastating. Net money income from Prairie agriculture in 1932-33 was only 6% of what it had been in 1928-29!

Unable to afford getting a car fixed, let alone buying a new one, many a Prairie farmer turned it into a horse-drawn carriage. Naming this symbol of economic collapse after the Prime Minister seemed only fair.

  • What

    It has been calculated that wheat prices were so low during the 1930s that even an exceptionally large crop (a bumper crop) did not necessarily produce a net profit.

  • Where

    This photo was taken at Sturgeon Valley, Saskatchewan, northwest of Prince Albert.

  • When

    At the time the photo was taken (1934), the parkland in northern Saskatchewan was being opened to farming because, unlike the southern plains, it got rain.

  • Who

    The man behind the wheel is Leader of the Opposition W.L.M. King (1874-1950), probably happy about the association of this backward step in technology with his political rival.