The Dirty Thirties
January 14, 1941, 20th century
This artefact belongs to : © National Archives of Canada
Keys to History
British Columbia's Thomas Dufferin "Duff" Pattullo (1873-1956) "was the first of the radical premiers of the '30's to emerge." (Ormsby) In 1933 he led the Liberals into office. With a nod to the New Deal championed by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), the Liberal program was named "the Little New Deal."
Pattullo thought the state should stimulate economic activity, correct abuses inherent in unrestrained capitalism and help ordinary people cope with the effects of the Depression and industrialization.
His government's most innovative legislation was publicly financed health insurance, the first in Canadian history. Passed in 1936, the scheme covered every British Columbian earning up to $2,400. The medical profession opposed the act, however. In spite of a 1937 plebiscite in which it got 59% support, it never went into effect.
The most visible reminder of Pattullo is the Pattullo Bridge across the Fraser River between New Westminster and Surrey in British Columbia. It was completed in 1937.
Born in Ontario, Pattullo worked there and in Yukon Territory before moving to Prince Rupert, in northern British Columbia, early in the 20th century.
The Liberals lost their majority in the provincial election of 1941. Rather than enter into a coalition government with the Conservatives, Pattullo resigned as premier and party leader.
Joseph-Adélard Godbout (1892-1956), on Prime Minister King's (1874-1950) right in this photo, was premier of Quebec in 1936 and 1939-44. During his second term, Quebec women finally got the vote.