Henry's First Term As Mayor
The New Mayor’s First Issue!
An ad for a new year’s party - “Dance the Old Year Out and the New Year In with the Regina Musician’s Protective Association at City Hall on December 31st at 8:00 pm with a 15 piece orchestra. Couples $1.00 Ladies - .50 Soldiers In Uniform .50 Gallery .25. In aid of the Grey Nun’s Soldier’s Convalescent Sanitorium”
And in the same paper was a small story: “Mayor’s Attitude Strengthened By Ministerial Body Mayor-elect Black is of the opinion that the city hall auditorium should not be handed over to patriotic associations for cheap dances on the grounds that such functions tend to lower the morals of the community.” - the city’s ministers agreed. Concerned citizens had been made aware of certain unsavoury activities at some of these dances that were not appropriate when the country was at war.
How much did stuff COST in 1918?
The Rex Theatre featured Mack Sennet’s “Are Waitresses Safe?” matinee seating for .75 The Rose (‘Home of Photoplays Worthwhile’) featured a Mutt and Jeff Cartoon Comedy. Evening balcony seats - .25 A GT&P ticket to Toronto set you back $55.50. The train to Regina Beach - 50 cents per return fare, kids paid 25 cents An average wage for an entry level civic employee might be $80 a month ($960.00 per year) - Everybody worked half days on Saturdays (44 hour week), so that civic employee’s wage was less than .60 an hour.
As mayor, Henry Black was paid $2500 a year
The war-time cost of living was starting to be burdensome Regina’s cost of living increase was the second highest in the country. RH Williams had heavy men’s mackinaw coats on for $9.50 prime rib was .27 a pound a dozen eggs cost .45 - you had to work for an hour to be able to afford a dozen eggs 20 pounds of sugar were $2.10
Records for the Victrola featuring the likes of Harry Lauder cost $1.50.
A Willys Knight Model 88 7 passenger touring automobile - $2205. Other nostalgia-inducing cars that were for sale in Regina in 1918 included Chevrolet, Studebaker, Dodge Brothers, Overland, Reo, McLaighlin, Gray-Dort, Paige, Ford, Maxwell, Scripps-Booth, Chalmers, Franklin, Oldsmobile, Soxon, Briscoe, Elgin. There were 32,505 cars registered in Saskatchewan in 1918
The city’s medical health officer proclaimed that it was ‘Unwise To Keep Pigs In the City”
Highlights of the 1918 minute book for the Regina City Council :
January 7, 1918. One of the first items on the 1918 agenda - issue a $5000 cheque to City of Halifax to help efforts to reconstruct after the December 5, 1917 explosion Letters were received on various subjects:
The Regina Poultry Breeders Association put in a claim for 600 poultry coops that went up in smoke during the big fire at the Exhibition grandstand on July 25, 1917. Outraged citizens were demanding that newsboys be better regulated.
The YMCA wanted to use City Hall Auditorium for a fund raiser.
The Uneedus Club wanted to use the Mayor’s Office and the Council Chambers as cloak rooms for their Patriotic Dance to be held on Feb 7. They obviously hadn’t heard that such dances endangered the morals of the city. They got turned down.
Action: Mayor Black decided to open up the committee meeting to the press since he didn’t propose to report on them all himself - on January 3, 1916, Mayor Cowan had closed them. They agreed that City Hall auditorium could be used for for patriotic events and charged out on a cost recovery basis only. The Jan 2 meeting had lasted until 8:55, the January 7 meeting lasted until 11:35
A letter singing praises for the Vacant Lot Garden Association was received. A Mr. Ralston wrote, expressing outrage at the low water pressure for the Wascana Hotel - he had been on the second floor of the hotel.
Plans for a large construction project were discussed. They included "...a Grand Trunk Pacific Hotel at the corner of 16th (College) and Albert, a station, a power house, a laundry, train sheds and underground tunnels to a total of $2,000,000.”
There was a rumour afoot that the H unit Military Hospital was set to move to Moose Jaw. Council wanted a delegation to leave immediately for Ottawa to lobby to keep it in Regina - Mayor Black was authorized to lead this delegation.
City Council agreed to provide free hospital treatment for the dependents of soldiers. Council authorized payment of a $33.75 bill tendered by Mrs. R.W. Collins - a soldier’s widow, on behalf of her sick young son.
Complaints about fares for the Street Railway System started to be mentioned.
A request that the City fund the purchase of at least one war plane was received.
The water shortage was becoming a bigger issue
A number of claims against the city arose from a project that went sideways called the Wascana Valley Trunk Sewer.
In 1914, 1915 and 1916 the city had provided partial payment of salaries to civic employees who had enlisted - at this meeting, council decided that these payments should stop.
Also on Feb. 19 council decided that they agreed with the city solicitor who advised that the city was in no way responsible for the 600 chicken coops lost at the July 1917 grandstand fire at the Exhibition.
After completing the Broad Street subway city council found that they had to pay damages to Mr. Armour for $31,030 and to Mr. McCarthy for $17,284
Many petitions were received from various delegations requesting that the city build three plank sidewalks and stand pipes.
SPCA wrote Council pleading that the city install a few drinking fountains for horses.
The salary for a senior clerk in the Parks Dept was set at $92.00 a month A Clerk Typist 1 type person would earn $60 a month at the City.
Council was getting pressured to build a convention center A Mr. Robert Sinton, perhaps noting claims of Mr. Armour and Mr. McCarthy, pushed the merits of a claim that the city had damaged HIS property when it constructed the Albert Street subway - council didn’t buy it, however.
Parking downtown was mayhem and there was a demand that Council do something to regulate it.
Council authorized payment to the Fort Qu’Appelle Sanitorium for the treatment of three patients
All employees of the Street Railway system at or below $1500/year were to receive an immediate 10 per cent raise. This item caused prolonged debate.
The Grey Nuns sent the City a bill for $6714 for the previous year’s treatment of indigents
John Symes, a 15 year old, applied for a rag collector’s license. The City’s Chief Constable wrote to Council that he : “...did not consider it desirable to have a boy of such tender age following this business.”
A major capital expenditure came up - a new 5000 kw generator for the city’s Power Plant - cost was at least $200,000
Ever at the vanguard for the latest in expensive office technology, Council authorized the spending of $2800 for two brand new Elliott Fisher Billing Machines.
There was great debate on a motion to produce a by-law which would force stores to close Wednesday afternoons.
The nitty gritty of reconstructing the Exhibition Grandstand began - this time in a ‘fireproof’ format.
A letter from the Deputy Minster of Finance in Ottawa was received - in it he pointedly reminded all Canadian municipalities that permission to issue securities for fresh municipal undertakings was to be withheld unless it was clearly established that the works proposed were indispensably necessary to the public and could not be postponed.” In spite of this, the Council authorized two new watering troughs for horses to be installed forthwith.
An independent judicial review of the Street Railway Department was begun - Council authorized the hiring of a consultant. Mr. Wilson Phillips from Winnipeg was brought in for an interview. Mr. Phillips was a former executive with the Winnipeg Street Railway. He eventually turned down the project.
The City agreed to let the YMCA fill its bathing tank for the soldiers stationed on what are now the exhibition grounds for free twice a week, yet rescinded this largesse at the next council meeting.
In 1918 Charles Dunning, the Provincial Treasurer was quoted: “The war has been the economic salvation of Saskatchewan...The war has brought ruin and desolation to all the countries engaged in the war; it has brought money to you and me.”
“Why are there no public comfort stations?” asked one irate citizen. “As soon as funds are available from the property sales account, we’ll build one,” was the reply.
A letter from the license inspector: “ I have to request that Frank Tomlinson and Fred Grant, both of whom hold chauffeur’s licenses, have been convicted of smuggling liquor from the US into Saskatchewan and I have to recommend that they lose their licenses immediately.” Council agreed.
Things were heating up about the Street Railway investigation
The influenza epidemic strikes - council’s notes make it abundantly clear that the illness cut a wide swath - virtually all public gatherings including movies etc. were closed forthwith. The biggest problem seemed to be keeping enough people healthy enough and uninfected so that the infrastructure could continue. The death toll in Saskatchewan from the influenza epidemic was about the same as the death toll of Saskatchewan boys in Europe on the battlefield during 1918.
Callers could count on finding Mayor Henry Black at his office in City Hall between the hours of 10:00 am and 11:00 am.
Interestingly, we find that City Clerk George Beach and the Medical Health Officer (Dr. Bow) both lived in the Crescent Annex apartments which Mayor Black owned.
Election time - December of 1918
The civic election was a little more spirited in 1918; the war had ended during the previous month, there was no federal election and perhaps the civic scene had increased in importance as a result. In any event, as portrayed in the pages of the Regina Morning Leader, a staunchly Liberal publication, Henry Black’s bid for re-election should be soundly rejected by the ratepayers. The Leader’s favoured candidate was J. F. Bole, manager of the Regina Trading Co.
December 3, 1918 An editorial in the Regina Morning Leader “A Black Record” Mayor Black pleads for re-election on the strength of his record this year and because, he says, a mayor should be given a second term. ...Mayor Black always drifts. He’s afraid to speak out and take a stand. By so doing he fears he might make a mistake and is quite positive he will displease somebody. So he sits on the fence and twiddles his thumbs while deficits assemble and the city suffers. (Etc. Etc vote for J.F. Bole)
December 3 “Bole Brings Out Municipal Policy Tonight (Mayor Black Invited)” Commission Report Discouraging Document Heavy Losses At Utilities. Mayor Black’s Dismal Record Year 1918 Has Been A Black One For City Financing”
December 4, 1918 “Bole Reveals Terrible Financial State of Regina Asserts Black Has Not Taken Ratepayers Into Confidence of Finance Says He Will Not Willingly See the City Delivered Over To Agitating Socialist Clique of Labor Party Led By Rose and Parrish. Synopsis of Citizen’s Meeting. J.F. Bole Charges Mayor Black With Distortion and Suppression Of Facts” It was a long ratepayer’s meeting at city hall. The paper’s reporting of it is amazingly biased. In the end, Henry Black is reported to have said: “If my record is sufficiently good, concluded Mayor Black, “Mark your ballot for me for a second term. (Laughter and applause)
In spite of the stauncly Liberal Morning Leader’s best efforts, Mayor Black was re-elected with a very satisfying majority. Professor Bill Brennan at the University of Regina, a noted local historian, uses the 1918 election campaign in his lectures - mostly to point out the 'non-power' of the media in terms of voter influence in those times.
Up to April 16, 1918, 5922 Regina citizens had enlisted to fight the Hun. Although the switch to the Dominion census skews numbers, Regina’s population had begun to fall, reaching a peak of 50,000 in 1914 and dropping to 40,000 by 1918. Between 1904 and 1910, it had more than tripled ... going from 4000 to 15,500. The City of Regina’s water rate for a Blacksmith’s forge was $12.00 per year and $1.00 per year per each additional forge. Water rate for stables was $12.00 per year, with $1.00 per year for each additional horse. 1918 Business license tariff: one horse dray $6.00. Fee for the exhibition of a natural or artificial curiosity - $10.00
As Mayor, H. Black served on the following in 1918: Chairman of Police Commissioners, Vice Chair of the Regina General Hospital Board of Governors, Regina Library Board, Regina Exhibition Association, Board of the Bureau of Public Welfare (city pogie)
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