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The 1920's

In: Historical Events

Submitted By englishisfun
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Did the 1920’s Roar?

The 1920’s were an interesting time in history, soldiers were returning home from war and people had a reason to celebrate and thus the decade roared. Many women went back to working out of the home but women became more liberated after experiencing independence of working during the war. Women wanted to work, dress more modern, get educated and have the right to vote. Families reunited and enjoyed sitting around the living room listening to new inventions like the radio and the record player. People had more money and they wanted to have fun and live beyond their means spending money on convenience items like washing machines, sewing machines, and vacuums. Middle class wanted to live like the rich and enjoy luxuries like cars, fine clothes and entertainment like Jazz, movies and gambling. Mass production and advertising was making items more accessible and desirable and everyone was investing their savings on the rising stock market. In many ways the 1920’s were a positive period full of fun and fads and the decade roared but there were also negative events throughout the 1920’s, most notably the 1929 stock market but also political and labour unrest, racial discrimination and the onset of Residential Schools, which made the 20’s, not roar.

All the new fads and fashion trends made this period a time for change and growth. Many ladies in the 1920’s wanted to be liberated and challenge the status quo on acceptable dress and conservative hair styles by showing some skin with tight fitting dresses with fringe that moved when they danced and cutting their long hair into nice short “bobs”. This was called the “flapper look”. Not as much of a dramatic change in the men’s fashion happened in the 1920’s but, the men sported baggy pants or knickers, a bright snappy hat and a bow tie. Their hair was also greased back and parted. New fads started emerging in this time period. The first new popular fad was an ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, which was a combination of dice and dominoes. Many Mahjong parties were held in Canadian homes and became all the rage. Another new fad was the crossword puzzles.
Two young American publishers came together with a crossword puzzle with a pencil attached. Long races and contests of every kind became very popular. Non-stop talking, kissing, eating, drinking and rocking chair marathons were known as contests. These were all the new fads and fashion trends that became popular and let people enjoy life again and made the 1920’s roar.

Entertainment that started emerging in the 1920’s also made this time period roar. Jazz was the new music originating in New Orleans in the 20’s and was created by two very talented musicians by the names of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. The music style and the fact that it was promoted by the black culture was not accepted by all and since prohibition banded the consumption and sale of liquor in public places many clubs turned private and to the underground. The Charleston became the dance of the decade; it was a very fast paced dance that many young people enjoyed. Comedy was also a popular type of entertainment and Charlie Chaplin was known for his hilarious comic routines. Talking films were a great invention in the 20’s. A Canadian born star Mary Pickford became one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories. By the end of the decade there were more than 900 movie houses in Canada. The great communication invention, the radio was also invented in the 1920’s. The radio allowed people to tune into the weather, news, music, sports, drama programs, comedies and entertainment shows. Gugielmo Marconi invented the first wireless radio and also set up the first radio station in Montreal. Entertainment was a big part of the good times in the 1920’s for Canada. It let Canadians to try and forget about the bad memories of the war, escape the political and labour unrest of the times and celebrate life.

Labour unrest during 1920’s left a negative impact on the 20’s. During the war many women took on the men’s jobs so when the men returned home the women were found jobless and had to go back to doing housework. Many jobs disappeared because the war was over and they did not have to make military transportation, artillery and ammunitions anymore. People started joining unions to try and fight for better working conditions and wages.
Workers ended up going on strike to fight for what they wanted but the leaders of these strikes ended up getting arrested. An example of this labour unrest included the Winnipeg General Strike when soldiers were coming home and factories were shutting down, many workplaces were going into bankruptcy, which led to unemployment. The whole province started shutting down because metal workers went on strike for higher wages and two weeks later a general strike started. Workers felt the owners of manufacturing plants and businesses were making too much money in comparison to their low wages and they did not think it was fair. Although the government was trying to help provide assistance for veterans and the unemployed to get re-established by offering pensions, farmland and other subsidies the cost of living was high and jobs were scarce so those out of work were very discouraged.

Residential schools left an extremely negative impact on the Aboriginal families and children during the 1920’s. Residential schools were a network of schools for Aboriginal peoples that were set up by the Canadian government and administered by Christian churches. Their objective was to educate the children and completely take them away from their families, homes, traditions and culture. Even if a child spoke their own language during school they would be punished. Many survivors have reported acts of verbal, physical and even sexual abuse from the hands of teachers leaving the aboriginal children and their parents emotionally scared. Siblings were taken away from each other and the children were separated by gender. The students were made to have their haircut very short, wear uniforms and were made to follow their daily timetable everyday. Children were trained to do manual labour in agriculture, woodworking or laundry and sewing. Residential schools disrupted families and the aboriginal culture for many generations and left the aboriginal children scared without an understanding of family. They felt like strangers in their own homes and since they were separated from their family for such a long time they did not learn about love and nurturing from their parents and were left with a feeling of not belonging.
It is hard to believe that it was not until June 11, 2008 that the Canadian government (Stephan Harper) finally acknowledged this terrible treatment of the aboriginal people in the 1920’s with a historical apology to the survivors of residential schools and to this day Native Canadians continue to have issues and unrest with the government.

The decade of the 1920’s was a combination of both positive and negative events for Canadians. For the young women and men during the 1920’s, new emerging fads and fashion created exciting new experiences and an identity that helped them rebel and challenge political and racial issues and women’s rights. All new entertainment culture became popular and helped Canadians escape the painful memories of the war to enjoy life again. People lived beyond their means having fun and invested their savings in material things, fashion, entertainment and gambling on the rising stock market that finally crashed in 1929. With the war ending and men coming home, jobs were scarce and people were on strike to fight for job opportunities, improved work conditions and wages. Residential schools put a lot of families through extremely hard times for a long period and effected many generations into the future. Therefore, it is clear that although the 1920’s roared they also had many negative times for Canadians.

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