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1915 - Henry's First Term As Alderman

Saskatchewan went dry in 1915. “Drunken-ness has decreased fully 75 per cent according to official figures” reported the Morning Leader on December 2. The provincial trouble spots appeared to be Moose Jaw, then Regina. In 1914 there were 249 drunken-ness charges in Regina, by 1915, that figure had dropped to 58. In Moose Jaw, the number went from 294 to 74. It must have been especially gratifying to Henry Black - a life-long teetotaler.

News from the First World War dominated the papers. The Battle of Ypres occurred during April of 1915. The battle introduced Canadians to the full horrors of modern warfare when, on April 22nd, the Germans introduced a unique battlefield innovation - they released 160 tons of Chlorine gas into a light wind which drifted over the allied trenches. More than 6000 Canadians died.

The cheapest Victrola was on sale for $21.00. Ten Black Cat cigarettes cost 10 cents. A coon skin coat from R.H. Williams cost $185.00. A starting clerk at the city might earn $140.00 a month. Labourers were paid 60 cents an hour. A six-day workweek was the norm.

The Regina YMCA faced a financial crisis in 1915. The cyclone had destroyed the YMCA’s building and they were operating in the red, and facing repayment of the loan required to help them rebuild. W.M. Martin led the YMCA’s Public Appeal Campaign.

Henry Black was on the hustings again in early December of 1915. He appeared on the podium at the annual meeting of the North Side Ratepayers’ Association and defended his record as alderman. “Alderman Black stated that he was not in favor of dismissing Commissioner Pool from the employ of the city. Alderman Black believed that Commissioner Pool was the least deserving of city officials to be dismissed and he pointed out that Mr. Venzke of the parks department, who was recommended for dismissal on account of being under the influence of liquor was still in the employ of the city while Commissioner Pool was not. Alderman Black also pointed out that he did not believe that the lease the city had signed for the Canada West Electric Company building was in the best interests of the city and that he was not happy with the current state of the Street Railway System.”

In the 1915 election Dr. Cowan was acclaimed as mayor. Ever vigilant with his finances, Henry Black ran the same ads that he had used during the 1914 election, peppering the paper with them every day during the week before the election.

“Aldermanic Candidates Face Voters” - further reports on the Ratepayers’ Association meeting from the December 9, 1915 Regina Morning Leader “Alderman Black complained that many of the cuts that he desired were not acceptable to the rest of council. ‘If you elect me again to the council and I cannot get satisfaction, I will resign and ask for another mandate from the people.’ The speaker then took credit for having pushed for the holding of an exhibition. He then took credit for having given the ladies the vote.”

Election day was December 13, 1915. The newspaper of the day is chock-a-block with WWI news. Every day on page one a ‘Canadian Casualties’ column is featured. A story appears about Henry Ford’s trip to Europe to try to find a peaceful solution to the war. The news stories treated Ford’s unusual odyssey rather lightly. “Ford’s Peace Party Treated As A Huge Joke” was the Morning Leader’s headline. Another story worried about America’s continuing neutrality.

Election results must have been gratifying for Henry Black. He came in third. The vote tally was: J. K. McKinnis - 1443, H. E. Armstrong 1408 and Henry Black 1404. His strong showing meant that he was alderman for a two-year term The December 14 paper carried his card of thanks. “To the ratepayers: The expression of renewed confidence which you have placed in me by re-electing me alderman is greatly appreciated and demonstrates that you appreciate the difficulties under which I labored last year and I will consider your decision an indication of your desire to press for rigid economy. And I assure you I will follow the aims and objects I have supported during the past year. Henry Black”

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