Opening New Caledonia - Opening New Caledonia - Timeline 1921
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1921

British Columbia was in an economic depression in 1921.

Even before Prince George's incorporation as a city in 1915, the choice of a site for the railway station was a hotly-debated issue. One of the leaders in the debate was developer George Hammond whose vision for Prince George included having the Grand Trunk Pacific and Pacific Great Eastern Railways meet in Prince George and eventually have lines from here connecting to the rest of the province. The Railway Commissioners wished to locate the station east of the townsite. Hammond put up a vigorous fight to have this decision reversed. He invested ten years of his time and an estimated half million dollars to have the station moved closer to Central Fort George. Eventually, the Board of Railway Commissioners resolved the dispute by ordering the site to be located west of George Street between Quebec and Dominion Streets. In the fall of 1921, construction commenced on an attractive $40,000 brick station.

In the spring, a provincial government official arrived in Prince George to explain the new Liquor Act passed by Premier John Oliver's Liberal government in Victoria. After Prohibition had been rejected in a plebiscite held October 20, 1920, the government was suddenly in the liquor business. During his visit, the liquor board official announced the intention to set up a vendor, staff, warehouse, and supply store in Prince George. The liquor stores were highly profitable and, operated province-wide as a monopoly, became known as "John Oliver's drug stores."

The T. Eaton Company introduced Canada's first mail-order catalogue which proved so popular it became known as "the Homesteader's Bible." In Prince George, residents received their catalogues by mail and became eager customers. The local response to the catalogue was not without controversy. The issue came down to one of loyalty to local merchants and whether it was fair that city retailers were losing trade to mail-order. The Citizen's editor took a stand in 1921 and rallied against the evils of mail-order and its negative influence on the local economy. He turned down an order for 1,000 inches of display advertising to announce an upcoming catalogue release. His position represented good business, though, because he depended more on local advertisers than he did on Eaton's.



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