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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

Discussion Province’s Wealth In Vermilion

In 1931, the province, and much of the world, was going through The Great Depression. Many were worried about what the future held for them but the government often tried to reassure people that the down time in the economy would not last long.

Of course, what no one was willing to admit was that The Great Depression was just getting started and it would be another eight years before things would finally turn around.

On May 14, 1931, R.G. Ried, the Minister of Lands and Mines, and the MLA for the Vermilion area, came to the community with O.L. McPherson, the minister of public works, to speak to the Chamber of Commerce.

Reid told the gathered group that more homestead lands would be made available and soil surveys had been conducted. Land would be made available first to those who pioneered in the province. To those coming from outside the province, they would also have a chance to purchase land.

McPherson spoke about the road policies and the difficulties the province was having getting roads built due to the sagging economy. He spoke about the higher standards for roads, and the need to ensure busy roads like those in Vermilion were graveled and graded on a regular basis. Once again, that was somewhat limited due to costs.

He then spoke about the Vermilion road going east to the boundary, which he hoped crushed rock in the district could be found. Once that was secured, construction would begin using local labour. For those in Vermilion, news of work was something they were all hoping for as many were starting to feel the pinch of The Great Depression and any sort of government relief was still a long way off.

As for both men, Reid would go on to become premier of Alberta, serving from July 10, 1934 to Sept. 3, 1935. His time as premier is the shortest in the history of the province.

For Oran McPherson, he went through a bad divorce in 1932 that made headlines across the province and hurt the reputation of the province. Coupled with the sex scandal of John Brownlee, many portrayed the party, the United Farmers of Alberta, as one of moral decay.

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