Between 1916 and 1935 the C.D. Howe Co built elevators in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Churchill, Pt Arthur, Toronto and Prescott, as well as Buenos Aires, Argentina. Howe became the foremost grain-elevator builder of his day. His straightforward, blunt personality, and his ability to build elevators at a fixed price, commended him to his customers, especially in Western Canada. But the 1930s Depression ended his business, and in 1935 he entered politics and Parliament as a Liberal, representing Pt Arthur (Thunder Bay, Ont). He was promptly made a member of Mackenzie KING'S Cabinet, becoming minister of transport in 1936. In that capacity Howe helped create Trans-Canada Airlines (later Air Canada).
In 1940 Howe became minister of munitions and supply, with the task of running Canada's war-production program. He succeeded brilliantly, working beside a group of largely Conservative businessmen who came to appreciate his efficient and daring conduct of economic affairs. This stood him in good stead when in 1944 he was asked to preside over the new Dept of RECONSTRUCTION. He reconverted the Canadian economy to a free-enterprise system, with minimal government controls. During the 1950s Howe was concerned with developing certain sectors of the Canadian economy, such as steel, and as minister of trade and commerce, with expanding Canada's trade. In that capacity, in 1956, he sponsored a trans-Canada pipeline, with government aid to a private firm. The move stirred up a parliamentary storm, and Howe's increasingly short-tempered response to criticism helped undermine the government's position. In 1957 the Liberals were defeated, as was Howe. Despite his accomplishments, he is best remembered for his dismissal of Commons debate as "the children's hour " and for asking members critical of his estimates, "What's a million?"
Author ROBERT BOTHWELL
Links to Other Sites
C D Howe
A profile of C D Howe. From Library and Archives Canada.
Clarence Decatur Howe
This informative profile of Canadian engineer and politician C.D. Howe is from the website for the Juno Beach Centre.
Besides hockey and the maple leaf, there is little as symbolically Canadian as the CBC – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It grew out of a developing nation's need to express its identity and find its voice.