In October 1932, at the end of the third year of the GREAT DEPRESSION
, and on the recommendation of Maj-Gen A.G.L. MCNAUGHTON
, chief of the general staff, PM BENNETT
sanctioned the creation of a nationwide system of camps to house and provide work for single, unemployed, homeless Canadian males. The camps were placed under the Department of NATIONAL DEFENCE
in consultation with the Department of Labour, and staffed with civilians. Occupants voluntarily entered the camps through the Employment Service of Canada and were free to leave at any time. In return for bunkhouse residence, 3 meals a day, work clothes, medical care and 20 cents a day, the "Royal Twenty Centers" worked 44-hr weeks clearing bush, building roads, planting trees and constructing public buildings. Critics argued that the federal government had established the camps in lieu of a reasonable program of work and wages. The most dramatic demonstration of this resentment occurred in Apr 1935, when 1500 men from BC camps went on strike and after 2 months' agitation in Vancouver set forth on the abortive ON TO OTTAWA TREK
. By the time the camps were closed in June 1936, they had been home for 170,248 men who had been provided 10 201 103 man-days of relief.
See also SOCIAL HISTORY, WORKING-CLASS HISTORY.
Relief project - woodcutting at Camp 210 at Hope, BC, March 1925 (courtesy National Archives of Canada/NAC-PA-35960).