Starting in 1930, Montréal underwent a period of disruption that would last fifteen odd years. The Great Depression put an abrupt end to the hopes of the preceeding decade, plunging the city into an economic crisis that would affect the entire population to varying degrees. This unrelenting depression was followed by the Second World War, which, though it brought prosperity, was nonetheless an exception that further delayed a return to normal life.
The Great Depression
The Crash of 1929 officially signalled the beginning of the Great Depression. From 1930 to 1933, the economy suffered a rapid collapse, and the recovery that eventually followed would be hopelessly slow.
Montréal was broadsided by this recession, which particularly affected the international commercialization of natural resources. The industries that depended on these sectors ground to a halt, and the ensuing domino effect spread to other sectors of the economy. Workers’ resources were quickly depleted, leaving them unable to contribute to economic recovery through consumer buying.
Charities were soon overwhelmed. The City created an unemployment commission to distribute government aid, or “direct relief,” to workers. It also created public works programs that hired several thousand unemployed workers.