(Maple Ridge Museum) Members of St. Andrew’s United Church Young People: Peter Mussallem, Art Daykin, Ian Brown and Dalton Newberry in 1928, a few years before Peter would take the lead in the high school debate.

Looking Back: A visit to 1931

‘Our community newspapers are a treasure too often taken for granted.’

The community museum and archives receive a steady stream of bits and pieces of the past. Sometimes we get a large collection from an estate, but more often it is something a person has had for a long time and, as they downsize, they look for a new home for it.

It happens to all community museums, and so we received a package of items that had been brought to the Mission Archives, which recognized that they belonged with us.

One item was a 1931 Gazette newspaper. We have original copies of the newspaper and there are microfilms and an index, so it made the most sense to just recycle this extra copy. But then elements of it caught my eye.

Because of the vast amount of newspaper material we hold, we rarely get the opportunity to just pick a day out of time and do a deep dive into the past.

Usually, we are on a quest for a particular person or event and all the rest just goes by. This small bundle of pages from the March 26 edition, plus one page from the April 2 paper granted just such an opportunity.

Early 1931 was ‘between the wars.’ The heady days of the 1920s were over and the economy was into the second year of the Great Depression, though it would be a couple of more years before it really hit this area hard.

April 1 of 1931 did see the institution of provincial income tax for the first time – a levy of one per cent on all wages earned over $25 per week for a person with dependents or $15 per week for all others.

Those wages help put into perspective grocery prices, like 39 cents for a pound of butter or 52 cents for 10 pounds of sugar.

At Taverna’s Red and White Store, the phone number was 116 and delivery of groceries was free.

The most striking element of the March 26 newspaper was the coverage of the McLean High School debates. Running to 84 column inches in very small font, today you would probably need to start a war to get that kind of coverage.

As an introduction, editor J. Junier Dougan states: “MacLean High School is surely developing skillful debatoers for legislators, professors, clergymen, lawyers, and lecturers.”

These were the expectations for those who completed high school in those days. Those not planning a professional career generally left by grade 9 or so as they had all they needed.

The topic of the debate was: “Resolved that military training in schools and colleges is a detriment to world peace.”

Those agreeing with the resolution, represented by Peter Mussallem, argued that such preparation for war would make it inevitable.

Those taking the negative position, ably fronted by James Menzies, stated that military training was essential to maintain world peace.

And so it goes on covering all possible details, aided no doubt by the fact that editor Dougan was one of the judges.

Our community newspapers are a treasure too often taken for granted. Every issue is a snapshot of our lives this week, covering schools, entertainment, religion, social events and politics.

There is no equivalent.

While we may not particularly care about recent issues as the events are fresh in our minds, no other format will so thoroughly recall this week in 50 or 100 years’ time.

Speak up for efforts to digitize and preserve our newspapers.

Val Patenaude is director at the Maple Ridge Museum and Archives.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Health warns Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

Most extravagant rock show in town

Maple Ridge Lapidary Club holds their annual rock and gem show at Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall

High school trades workers compete at Westview Secondary

Students from Maple Ridge and Port Moody took part in auto service and cabinet making contests

CALL OUT: Musicians invited to perform on Port Haney Wharf

For more than 20 years Maple Ridge Historic Society has been hosting a series of outdoor concerts

LETTER: Stop the spiral towards climate catastrophe

Former Green Party candidate pushes for rejection of Frontier Teck’s mining application

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

High-risk sex offender cuts off ankle bracelet, on the loose in Vancouver: police

Vancouver police said Kirstjon Olson, 38, is a provincial sex offender with 27 court-ordered conditions

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

VIDEO: Giants Winning Streak Ends At 11 After a 2-1 Setback Saturday in Everett

Run of wins matched their longest ever regular season winning streak

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Most Read