Finally, the much-delayed 1925 post! Early Fall in that year would find Peterborians considering their options in an imminent federal election, so there is something we can related to 90 years on. And, it was still the season of the ball diamond in Peterborough, albeit involving on this occasion a slightly different form of the game than the one we have been reading about in the last few posts. So read on!
The international news wires were, once again, fairly quiet at this time of year in 1925. The brutal Rif War, fought in what is now Morocco between France and Spain on one side and the indigenous Berber population on the other, garnered some headlines here and there, although little in the way of deep discussion. Also of note was a major conference in Switzerland, at which the European powers discussed security on the continent and the eventual acceptance of Germany into the League of Nations. A headline in the October 7th Peterborough Examiner mentioned that the newly-created Soviet Union was taking part in the conference, or at least observing the -proceedings. Beyond those items, there was little overseas news being discussed.
However, there were important national matters demanding attention; much as in 2015, mid-October of 1925 found Canadians right on top of a federal election (the vote was scheduled for October 29th), as the Conservatives of Arthur Meighen looked to unseat the governing Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. The election coverage around Peterborough was ubiquitous but somewhat understated, as none of the local races seem to have been particularly fierce (or at least they were fairly calm in the week we are looking at). In fact, an October 8th Examiner editorial lamented the quiet state of affairs at public events, and recommended that “[a] little heckling, if done by someone who knows the issues, might add spice to some of the meetings of the present campaign.”
There were, however, a few campaign fireworks being set off. On October 6th, Peterborough West Conservative candidate E.A. Peck lamented what the next day’s Examiner called “the spirit of depression rampant” in the nation. That same evening, in a speech to the Peterborough Liberal Women’s Committee, Liberal candidate G.N. Gordon condemned the Conservatives for lack of patriotism, asking “why Mr. Meighen should be allowed to go about damning his country in the eyes of the world.” Immigration Minister R.R. Hall was at that meeting as well, and got somewhat biblical concerning the Conservatives, as quoted in the October 7th Examiner:
“Soon the lamentations of Arthur Meighen will surpass the Scriptural lamentations of Jeremiah.”
And so it turned out, in a somewhat surprising way. When the vote was held on October 29th, the Conservatives won the most seats, with 115 to the Liberals’ 100 (both Peterborough ridings went to the Conservative candidates). However, the Progressive Party won 22 seats, giving it the balance of power. The Progressives promptly formed a coalition with the Liberals, enabling Mackenzie King to remain Prime Minister. Meighen did indeed lament, but there was nothing he could do; the Liberal-Progressive coalition was a perfectly valid political thing, and not particularly unusual in a parliamentary democracy (the 1917 Canadian election, for example, had featured a coalition between the Conservatives and a large number of Liberal candidates).
The story, however, was not over. Within a year of the time we are discussing, Canada would see Mackenzie King resign after a bribery scandal broke up the coalition, leading to Meighen becoming Prime Minister. His government lasted only a short time before losing a confidence vote, and the country went to the polls again in September of 1926. This time the Liberals won it outright, albeit as a minority government, and things on the political scene settled down again.
All that was still very much in the future for Peterborians in the Fall of 1925. Through the early part of the decade, this time of year had meant championship baseball and lots of it, as the city’s teams had cut a bit of a swathe through their provincial rivals. There were, unfortunately, no OBAA finalists from Peterborough in October of 1925, but the city’s diamonds were still active. On October 3rd, the Peterborough Ladies softball team welcomed the Canadian Ladies’ Athletic Club Rani Ghar Grotto team from Toronto for an exhibition game. As the October 5th Examiner helpfully explained:
“The somewhat involved name of the visitors is due to the fact that the players are members of the Canadian Ladies A.C., and the team is backed by the Rani Ghar Grotto, a Masonic society.”
The Torontonians, featuring three players who had represented Canada in international competition, defeated Peterborough 17-11 (see headline above), despite a home run by Miss. U. Forsythe for the local team.
There was also some sad news from the baseball diamond. On October 7th, former major league pitching superstar Christy Mathewson, known as “The Big Six,” died of tuberculosis in the New York State at the age of only 45. He was mourned on both sides of the border, and the October 9th Examiner devoted an entire editorial to his passing. An excerpt:
“Mathewson, whose name has been a household one, not only in United States homes but among Canadians as well, has always been considered as the finest flower of the baseball profession, renowned as he was for his sterling character and clean sane life as he was for his skill as a player.”
Beyond the sports news and the election, there was little else of great note going on in Peterborough in October of 1925. That year’s Fall Fair had produced a something of a minor local scandal, as two teenaged girls had run away with what the October 5th Examiner termed “a man of the midway.” The three were tracked down at a fair in Woodstock, the man arrested, and the young women returned home. And part of the Trent Canal had been drained for cleaning, revealing, according to the October 6th newspaper:
“…that the residents on both sides are in the habit of dumping all sorts of discarded household and other articles into the water, as the rocky bottom was covered with broken dishes, cans, bottles, pots and pans, boots and shoes, auto tires, and the like.”
Fortunately, noted the paper, “[n]othing suggestive of tragedy was found in the bottom of the canal.”
That should do it for this week! I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving in the 1920s, incidentally, was celebrated in early November, and was tied to the observance of Armistice Day), and we will be back next week with a look at mid-October of 1926. In the meantime, here is what was going on at this time of year in 1873!