Opening New Caledonia - Opening New Caledonia - Timeline 1923
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1923

During the month of February, Prince George merchants launched a ┐Trade-at-Home campaign to boost customer loyalty. They promoted their cause with the slogan ┐If you trade out of town, and I trade out of town, what will become of our town?┐ In the weeks that followed, different local business were featured in the Citizen to draw attention to what each had for sale, or the services they offered. Competing for local dollars were Hughes & Drake Ladies┐ Wear, The Northern Hardware Company, the Panama News Stand, I. B. Guest & Co. (general store), Corless Limited (furniture), two jewellery stores, an optical parlour, Izowsky┐s drygoods, A. M. Patterson Men┐s Wear, B. G. Parker┐s ┐Good Clothes Shop,┐ Baird┐s ┐Everything for Men┐ store, W. G. D. Harper┐s plumbing service, W. J. Pitman┐s music store, grocery stores (W. Bexon & Co, O. N. Haydon, J. Assman┐s and C. C. Reid), the Prince George Drug Co. (a branch of the Rexall Drugs chain), Stacey┐s Pharmacy, and McInnis & Wilson building supplies. This was, altogether, an impressive array of stores and services for a young city.

A group of Prince George residents led the city┐s first taxpayers┐ revolt in the spring. The city had been collecting taxes for only eight years, yet the Property Owners' Association sought to get $10,000 hacked from the city┐s budget, and a proportional benefit of tax relief for their members. After poring over the city┐s budget, they deemed that the Mayor could be paid just $25 per month, that aldermen should continue to serve without salary, that the police magistrate┐s salary could be cut to $50 per month, and the police strength reduced to one policeman. With this resolve, they reviewed the entire budget, making cuts anywhere they could suggest them. Council deliberated the suggestions and a month later announced that they considered the Property Owners' Association members ┐were not sufficiently familiar with the services they were proposing to re-organize to make their findings of any value.┐ With that, the protest was dismissed.

Expectation of new prosperity arrived in Prince George with the arrival of a new saw and planing mill operation known as Cranbrook Sawmills. Moving their operation here from Fort Steele, the company transported its equipment by rail. The shipment included four cars of machinery and one of horses. At the Prince George station, equipment was unloaded and dragged over the snow to the timber limits. Planing machinery was taken further down the line to a rail spur at Otway where that operation was set up. The workers began logging as soon as they arrived, but it took months to build the sawmill. It was ready to begin operation by summer. Local mills expected to participate in supplying the lumber needed for a building boom along the eastern seaboard of the United States. With the market price for lumber rising, other sawmills were attracted to the area and eventually thirty mills were set up along the rail line between Tete Jaune and Prince George.

Canada┐s agriculture department began the nation-wide introduction of clover seed developed at the experimental farm in Ottawa. That summer, A. E. Richards arrived to establish an experimental station at the farm of J. S. Johnson in the Salmon River district. Using a pooled prize to stimulate interest in the competition, the government provided each farmer with 10 pounds of common red clover and 10 pounds of alsike. Participating farmers each put a dollar in the pot and the one producing the most seed collected the prize. From then on, the contest was conducted annually and, eventually, the trails produced high quality seed in commercial quantities. By the 1930s, clover was established as a good cash crop and was an important source of income during the Depression. Botanically, there was interest because the clover seed produced here was the most northerly on the North American continent. Soldiers stationed in Prince George during the Second World War participated in the clover harvest. The 1944 crop was the best on record to that date.

One of the earliest manufacturing enterprises to establish itself in Prince George was a company which produced radio receivers. In 1923, people paid between $150 to $200 for radios which didn┐t work well in this area. After conducting a survey among city residents about radio reception, Mr. R. Nublat believed he could manufacture and market sets for $70 that would work better. His set could pick up radio stations within a three thousand mile radius. Before he could open his store and set up a demonstration set, he had orders for six radios.


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