Hello and welcome back to my blog. The last couple months in PLP have been spent learning about the 1950s. We have been focusing on the changes that Canada and the world experienced in the 50s, and this post is all about answering the project driving question: “How did Canadian life develop after WWII?”

Lets start of with discussing what this project was all about. PLP 10 has been creating podcast episodes all year. With it being the end of the year, this was our final podcast episode. So for our final project we decided to help out a local organization. The Deep Cove Heritage Society is a non-profit organization in my town. Their goal is to collect stories about Deep Cove and add them to their extensive collection of audio and written resources about what Deep Cove was like in the past. With the pandemic the amount of tourism they used to reached has virtually disappeared. So our class decided to help them out buy adding even more audio recordings. 

The Deep Cove Heritage Society collects audio and visual resources to tell the story of Deep Cove, like this old photo of the Main Street running through Deep Cove

The DCHS started in 1976, so most of their recordings are about Deep Cove in the early 20th century. The interviews my class and I were conducting would be all about Deep Cove now. So I paired up with my classmate Owen, and together we interviewed a former resident of Deep Cove named Ann Booth. It had actually been a while since I had interviewed a complete stranger, as my last few podcasts had interviewees that I knew in some way or fashion, even if I didn’t talk to them much. So it was definitely a thrust back into interviewing. Looking back now, there were a lot of things I could have done to improved on my interviewing skills. Something I wish I had done better was actually my mindset coming into the interview. I think coming into an interview with the idea that it is an interview is problematic. Of course, you still have to be professional, but I think treating it like a conversation makes it much easier to converse and communicate with your interviewee. If you think you can get more info even if it means straying from your original plan, do it. 

My Podcast Planner. My podcast planner is the steps I went through in creating my podcast episode.

Elvis Presley – I could probably leave this picture without a caption and everyone would know who this is. Thats how influential Elvis and rock n’ roll was

Lucky for me, I got a second chance to interview somebody; and a second chance to try my new ideas for interviewing. This time I was interviewing local resident Wayne Smith. Wayne is a short story writer, so I was actually very excited to interview him. I went into the interview with the mindset that this was a professional conversation, and I think it worked. I really tried to focus on communicating with Wayne, rather than just asking a set of questions and recording his answers. I was lucky enough to hear two of Waynes short stories, one of which is included in my podcast episode above. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Wayne, and I think the things I learned in my interview with Ann really helped. 

The production of more efficient cars led to the expansion of the suburbs, and the idea of living outside the city

Alright back to the driving question: “How did Canadian life develop after WWII?” Well, following WWII, Canada and many countries entered a period of mass consumerism. I won’t go too deep into it, but Canada’s economy underwent massive changes after WWII, due to the level of production achieved during WWII. If you want to read what I had to say about how Canada’s economy changed after WWII, I have included a short article I wrote about it below. It wasn’t just Canada’s economy that changed after WWII though. A certain group of people that changed a lot during the 50s were the teenagers. This was the topic of my podcast episode, as my podcast is about teenagers. But after WWII, a new genre of rock and roll began to gain popularity. Teens found this new genre extremely attractive due to the fact that “old heads” found it rebellious and unruly to listen to a genre that promoted sex and other taboo ideas. 

Following the First World War the world experienced a massive economic crash. Known as the Great Depression, this economic crash caused massive financial problems and sent many families into poverty. WWI was largely to blame for the Great Depression, as national economies had shifted to a “total war” economy during the war, which meant more manufacturing and factories. Once the war ended, countries were left with massive amounts of jobs and manufacturers. So many countries’ economies began to rapidly expand in the 20s, before reaching a peak right when production had began to decline and the “Roaring Twenties” were coming to a close. This sparked the massive economic crash we know about today. So why didn’t the world experience this again following WWII? After WWII many countries, including Canada, were left with very large numbers of industries, who were pumping out equipment during the war. Just like WWI, these industrial levels began to increase from the already high rate they were at. But something that saved us from another economic depression was a spike in our population. Almost a million Canadian veterans returned home after the war. They began to intermingle with life back home, married, and had children. Imagine 1 million men coming home and having 2-3 children. This “baby boom” caused families to spend money on more and more consumables. This new demand for manufacturing allowed industries to find workers, work, and fill the demand. The industrial demand for wartime equipment in the 40s managed to shift to a demand for manufacturing and consumption. However, this new level of manufacturing brought high levels of employment. Even with the wave of veterans re-entering the work force, more and more people immigrated to Canada. After WWII, Canadians began to realize many of their beloved veterans were not of pure Canadian descent. A large number of veterans were minorities, or more specifically, minorities who still did not have the right to vote. So in the late 1940s, the Canadian government passed a number of bills that gave asians and other minorities the right to vote, as well as making it easier for these minorities to immigrate to Canada. This meant even more people to fill the employment demand. Canada’s exports were of high demand after the war as well. Lumber was in high demand, and Canadian oil companies discovered two new oil deposits in Alberta. Exports from Canada were reaching very high levels, and this translated to a richer population. Censuses in 1921 and 1942 found that 67% of all Canadians were under the poverty line. This changed in 1951, when it was found that only 33% were living in poverty. People had more money, which meant they could afford to purchase new things. Cars, food, maybe even a new house. People had the money to leave the city with its substandard housing, and many wanted to. After living for almost a decade in a war-depressed economy, people wanted to escape and enjoy the new consumer economy. The suburbs seemed like the perfect place for many. Not only did it allow people to escape the life they experienced in the 40s, but it caused even more demand for manufacturing. People needed cars to leave the city, more appliances and decoration to fill their new home. New tech like the television, washing machines, blenders, and hair dryers were all the rage in the suburbs. I mentioned before that “organized labour” had increased during the war. After WWII, many unions now had the power to demand workers rights. Many wanted better conditions, pay, and health care. Worker strikes became more common, as industries thrived on their level of production. Without workers, production would grind to a stand-still. Many unions took advantage of this fact and were able to gain better pay and better conditions in the workplace. Social programs to protect families from another post-war depressions were called for by the populace. A new political party, the NDP, forced the hand of McKenzie King’s government into social programs like family allowance, unemployment insurance, and healthcare. Vaccines for polio and tetanus were being distributed, and socialized healthcare coverage was becoming more and more popular. After WWII, the shift from a wartime to peacetime economy ushered in a new era of consumption, while simultaneously improving workers and human rights. The economic boom would allow Canadians to prosper after years of poverty. The population boom supported this new level of consumption that we still see in Canada today. After WWII, Canadians began to demand human rights and social programs to make sure all Canadians were able to prosper under this new economy. In a stark contrast to the depression of the 30s, the post WWII economy of Canada was booming. All in all, Canadian lives managed to improve financially and socially thanks to the economic boom of the 50s.

With the help of Wayne, I came to the conclusion that the 1950s were really the start of the time that we are in now. Kids now seem much more mature, and are entering that period of relationships much earlier than kids in the past. This trend really started in the 50s, and slowly got more and more radical. After a decade of limited supplies and food, the 50s were all about consumption and enjoying yourself. Well, not everyone got to enjoy themselves, as the idea of the “nuclear family” started in the 50s. This brought about a big difference in gender roles in a family. The father was the breadwinner, while the mother kept the house clean, and prepared food. This can be perfectly shown in this advertisement for Battleship. I want you to focus on who is at the table playing the game, and who is in the kitchen washing the dishes. 

Who is playing the game? Who is doing housework in the background?

So in conclusion, the 50s was a time of change. A lot of the values and traditions keep in the 30s and 40s really began to disappear in the 1950s. Meanwhile, a lot of the values and traditions we hold now started in the 50s. Things we view as essential today started in the 50s. Things like social programs, unions, workers rights, minority rights, and adding sugar in foods all started in the 50s. Technology made massive leaps as well. Cars became more efficient and cooler, the TV was introduced, as well as a number of kitchen appliances became available in the 50s. Values like the nuclear family and the slow decrease in racism and discrimination across Canada began in the 50s, while new ideas like suburbs started to become popular. If I was to think of one word to describe the 50s, it would be change.

More info about the changes in the 1950s:

School in the 50s