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Vision 2012: demographics then

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The City of Duncan went into incorporation in 1912 with 1,500 residents, but few qualified to run for office.

That was due to a variety of factors, according to Tom Henry in his book Small City in a Big Valley.

"Women could not hold office, nor could Chinese, Natives, Japanese, Sikhs or any other non-Caucasian ethnic group, no matter how long they had been in the country,'' he reports in the book. "Renters could not sit on council, nor could a man who owned property valued at less than $1,000.

"Nomination day brought only one candidate for mayor,'' historian Jack Fleetwood wrote in an article in the Cowichan Leader in 1992 on the occasion of the city's 80th anniversary.

That man was Kenneth Duncan, elected by acclamation. The mere 290 eligible voters also elected W. Gidley, O.T. Smythe, E.F. Miller and J. Campbell as aldermen and James Greig became the city clerk.

It was a prosperous time in the city's development during 1911 and 1912 when a hospital, a power grid, the large Cowichan Merchants building and many businesses emerged. The copper market rebounded after the bottom dropped out in 1908 and an unprecedented boom lasted until 1913.

The town's configuration had already been set before incorporation with three distinct neighbourhoods: the Hospital Hill area, the city centre and the area to the east of the railroad referred to as the Townsite.

Five years after incorporation, a questionnaire put out by a newspaper in Manitoba revealed some interesting facts about the city. The findings were published in an article in the Leader.

The population at that time was approximately 1,200 but the total number of people who did business and trade in the city was more like 6,000.

The main nationality was English and the main means of livelihood were agriculture and lumbering, according to the results of the questionnaire.

There was one central high school and 17 outlying rural elementary schools, with an additional eight private schools. The total number of students in the district was 700.

The community also boasted 21 churches and amenities such as a library, post office, courthouse and city hall.

 

 

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