1919 Second Year In Office
- the Street Railway Scandal
- his wife gets a grant
Council got off to a brisk clip in January of 1919 with a letter from John K. Steven in London saying that he was returning from active duty and what was the status of his job as the Assistant to the City Assessor?
George Grassick made a motion that would see all council meetings end at 11:00 pm unless specifically it was decided to continue past 11:00.
Much lobbying undertaken to ensure that there was an adequate and orderly and planned re- integration of service men into civilian life at the conclusion of hostilities. Much lobbying was undertaken to ensure that the Federal government had a construction program up and running so that the service men would have something to work at when they reintegrated.
The fate of the Smallpox Isolation hospital was once again discussed.
The Sherman Theatre at the corner of 11th Avenue and Cornwall wanted to put up an awning. Go for it, said city council.
A Temperance Act had been passed at the beginning of the war (Ban the Bar!!) and attempts to enforce it were driving city police nuts. On March 4 Alderman Rose put forward a motion that ‘inasmuch as it is almost impossible at present to efficiently enforce the Saskatchewan Temperance Act: Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this council it would be in the public’s interest to urge upon the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan the desirability of: giving a precise definition of the intentions of the Saskatchewan Temperance Act and to amend said Act to make it possible to efficiently enforce whatever that intention may be.” This was referred to a special committee
The 16th March 1919 Council meeting was dragging on and motion was made to go beyond the 11:00 pm cut-off to appoint and auditor and to consider a request for a grant from the Salvation Army. The motion to sit past 11:00 pm was defeated and the Salvation Army went home penniless that night.
What some of the City Employees were earning in 1918: An Engineer at the power house - $130.00 month City Clerk George Beach was making 166.66 a month The Fire Chief was making $208.33 a month.
On March 4, 1919 J. Lenore Black, secretary of the Girls’ Home Association (and Henry Black’s wife), appeared before a committee of council to urge that council provide a $125.00 a month grant for the Girls’ Home. The Committee, led by Mayor Black acquiesced
June 13, 1919, J. J. Renwick, Secretary of the Regina Cyclone Association requested that a bylaw be put to the burgesses to authorize the city to shovel out $150,000 to the association. At the same time the remainder was to be paid by the dominion and provincial governments. Council decided that the City Act prohibited them from so doing.
Hard Working Bureaucrats were in danger of burning themselves out 80 years ago: “Whereas Commissioner Thornton has not had holidays for some time and wheras we esteem highly his services to the City and are anxious that he should take a holiday shortly, therefore be it resolved that His Worship the Mayor and the Commissioner arrange a date which will be acceptable and convenient for Mr. Thornton to leave for a well-deserved but long deferred holiday.” - carried
A gigantic Peace Celebration was planned for July 19 at the Exhibition Grounds - City Hall shoveled out $1500 to help with the festivities.
A complaint was received by council. Too many of the city’s wells were going dry during the winter months and the Greater Saskatchewan Water Association was formed to look at alternatives. Perhaps water could be brought via a pipeline from Buffalo Pound Lake?? It was not considered an inconvenience if citizens had to walk as much as three blocks for their water.
July 13 - again a call for Public Comfort Stations - again it was turned down
July 6 - the Y was in the grease - because of their YMCA Cyclone loan - they weren’t keeping up with their payments and the City wanted to make sure that they were aware of their responsibilities - the Board members of the Y said that if they had to pay off the debt that at this time it would mean that the Y would be shut down.
A letter was received from JM McKay - the Superintendent of Waterworks - his last vacation was in 1914 and he wanted to get back to see the ould sod in Glasgow - he was granted three months’ leave with pay.
Interest rates at the time were about 6%
An investment in technology - the city purchased a Burroughs 225 Electric Adding machine for $785. A whack of money. Average salary was maybe $120/month - more than half a year’s salary today.
August 19 - Archie Cook was convicted of selling cocaine and council agreed that he should lose his chauffeur’s license.
October 4, 1919 - the Prince of Wales was slated to visit Regina and the City was going to put on a real show - a half day public holiday, the whole nine yards.
Despite having a full blown judicial review of his department earlier in the year, Superintendent of the Street Railway System J. M. Houston applied for funding to go down to Atlantic City for a conference about streetcars. “It is my desire to visit several cities in Ohio and look into fare collection systems, zone fares and one-man car operation (blah blah blah) Further I would respectfully draw your attention to the fact that I have not had a vacation since 1916.” Away he went!!
Not an unnoticed amount of controversy surrounding the awarding of the 20 year franchise to supply the city with natural gas to a firm owned by Robinson, McLane et al. It became known as the Whole Gas Situation
October 7 1919 - should the City sue Chief Justice Sir FWG Haultain for $714.00 worth of income tax he owed for 1916 - 1918?? Council decided that they should.
October 21. A communication from Mr. M.C. Crook arrived asking if “ ... nothing could be done to prevent the owners of cows and ponies from permitting said animals to roam at large over lawns and gardens.” You bet nothing could be done. In fact, nothing was done and the matter was referred to the police commission.
December 16, 1919 and Captain George Hannan sought permission from City Council to lease some land on the north side of Wascana Lake for 20 years and let him build a new pavilion and a new boat house. Other plans were afoot and Hannan’s request was denied.
December 29. A communication from City Solicitor Blair concerning the complaint of the Principal of the Collegiate that students are frequently found in pool halls and inquiring whether the Council desires an amendment to the license by-law that would remedy the situation. Council decided to refer the whole matter.
A Note About the Street Railway
There are voluminous records in the archives concerning the judicial inquiry into the Street Railway System that was ordered by Henry Black and others. An anonymous letter is one of the more interesting. Dated Feb. 1st, 1919, it reads “I see by the papers that an investigation into the street railway is underway. To help matters let me advise you to look for a large loan in the office of the Cashier. If carefully looked into, a big surprise is waiting. Nothing new, it has been running for years and a cleverly worked result should let in some light on some things not now understood. Yours truly, A Taxpayer.”
A large two color poster is also to be found in these files:
“Regina Municipal Street Railway”
Please Deposit Your Own Fare.
When You Give the Conductor a larger coin than 5 Cents, be sure that he gives you the exact change.
Then drop the exact change into the box yourself.
Don’t hand it to the conductor to put in the box.
Do It Yourself!
Please Count Your Change!”
This poster was up in all streetcars. It must have helped contribute to a dandy labor relations climate in the street railway department.
Judge Hannon conducted the judicial inquiry - he stuck a bill in for working on July 2 - 6, 12 and Sept 16 & 17. His bill totaled $150. He was given a nine point charge including “Have tickets been improperly used and If so, by whom?, Has there been gross mishandling of cash, What is the accounting system. Who put it in place? Is it still being followed? Etc. Etc.
A private detective - a Mr. Eli Parrish, had been authorized by the Street Railway Committee (Rose, Young, Perry & Black) “to make a thorough investigation into everything.”
Parrish rustled around and wrote a very damaging report which was released - all kinds of allegations, innuendo, rumours and hearsay. The actual facts are not such a damning indictment of the system however. Sample language from Parish’s report includes: “I can not see evidence of anything that Baxter (senior mechanic) does.” “J. Burns’ only qualification is that he is brother-in-law to Baxter, with whom he lives.” “It is difficult to see how the storekeeper finds even one hours’ worth of work each day.” “The Superintendent is only permitted to keep Milne in the employ of the Street Railway with a specific undertaking that Milne not be allowed to touch cash.” Within the file, the actual letters of reprimand etc. that were written to Milne that created the impression that he was a malfeasor exist. In truth, he was guilty of a minor error in judgment and should have been reprimanded. He was not a thief, however.
Henry Black chose not to run for re-election - his business was booming and his family was growing.
However, three years later, he was back at it. when he threw his hat in the ring once again to take a run at an aldermanic seat in the 1922 election for the 1923 term. The election was held on December 11, 1922 and was once again a bitterly cold day. Regina had switched from the ward system to a proportional representation system and Henry Black came first out of 15 hopefuls with 623 votes cast in his favor. It was modern times in Regina as many citizens listened to the election results on their radio courtesy of a broadcast from CKCK radio.
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