The Depression

Canada was hit hard by the Great Depression. The value of exports from Canada went from a high of $1.3 billion in 1928 to a low of $0.5 billion in 1932. By 1931, unemployment reached 28 percent in British Columbia, the highest in Canada. 1 in 5 Canadians became dependent upon government relief to survive. From 1929 to 1933, Gross National Expenditure is estimated to have declined by 42 percent while the total government debt increased by a whopping 27 percent from 1930 to 1937. The Depression affected everyone, some more painfully than others. Unemployed Chinese were expected to survive on one-third of the assistance that was provided to unemployed white males.

In the late 1930s, although the Great Depression was technically over, the country remained in a severe recession. Credit became over-extended and too much production continued while demand decreased. The countries of the world limited imports and since exports were decreasing from everyone, no one benefited. Forestry, construction, and transportation all suffered in British Columbia as demand decreased and businesses could not afford new developments.

Within this context of world Depression, Wells was established and it thrived. Demand for Canadian products dropped dramatically, except the demand for gold, because while the value of most products dropped the value of gold skyrocketed. People were desperate for work and willing to travel the great distance to the remote location of Wells to have stable employment. The gold mining boom in Wells offered hope and salvation in a time of great need. Since both prices and wages declined throughout the country; the standard of living increased for those with property or jobs – as was the case for those employed in Wells.

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