Dateline Cowichan: Business in Cowichan good despite the war

From the Jan. 3, 1957 Leader: Mary Josephine Cook celebrated her 92nd birthday on Tuesday of last week at the King
From the Jan. 3, 1957 Leader: Mary Josephine Cook celebrated her 92nd birthday on Tuesday of last week at the King's Daughters' Hospital, it was hard to say who had the most fun, the nurses or the nonagenarian. When she was 90, Mrs. Cook still planted vegetables in her garden. Now she would prefer to spend her energy dancing the Scottish reel.
— image credit: courtesy Angela Husvik

In January 1941, the horrors of war were at least a continent away for those living in the Cowichan Valley. And according to a Leader survey, people were not afraid to spend.

Indeed, 1940 had been a satisfying year for all but two of 15 merchants questioned anonymously. “Best Christmas and best year in our 3 1/2 years of business,” said a baker. Best year and best Christmas for some time, reported a department store manager. A cigar store reported doing double the Christmas and year-round trade of 1939, even though pipes, lighters and some lines of cigarette papers were hard to find.

The main disadvantage of the war from a business point of view was a rise in prices because of taxes and higher cost of raw materials, explained a garage proprietor. There had been a 25 per cent increase in the price of new cars and because many car factories were now producing war vehicles and munitions, demand for both new and second-hand automobiles far exceeded demand, he said.

Meanwhile, many men joined the army and left jobs open for the formerly unemployed. As well, many with irregular employment or no employment joined up – meaning their dependents could count on a steady pay cheque.

1941: heroes

Com. Edmond Rollo Mainguy, whose parents came to Westholme in 1884 to homestead, was cited in the King’s New Year honours list for “skill of naval conduct during an anti-submarine attack when a U-boat was destroyed.”

1941: religion

Two brothers were given 12-month prison terms for belonging to Jehovah’s Witnesses, an illegal organization. They were apprehended after pamphlets were delivered into mailboxes along Bell McKinnon Road.

1941: elections

After electing Trustee O. T. Smythe as chairman for the tenth successive year, Duncan Consolidated school board trustees took their seats. Trustee Mrs. J. P. Leeming was appointed as chairman to the elementary school management committee.

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