In the 1930s, the Great Depression reversed the employment trend, leaving approximately one-fourth of the Toronto population unemployed and causing severe financial problems. The capital debt payments couldn’t be met, and expenditures on public services – like sewage and piped water supply – had to be postponed. However, prosperity returned with the Second World War. Demand for war supplies and soldiers soon changed the city’s economic and employment picture.
Toronto became a major military center during World War II. War industries such as shipbuilding, plane construction, and weapons production flourished. Additionally, factories supported the war effort by hosting Victory Bond rallies, providing victory gardens, and hosting morale-building events such as dances, celebrity visits, and Miss War Worker contests.
Toronto deserved its reputation as a conservative city during the 1930s. Although the city had many beautiful churches, its nickname, “Toronto the Good,” had more to do with legislation against fun than with religion. It was, after all, in 1912 that tobogganing was prohibited on Sundays. During a heat wave in 1936, 24 men were arrested for exposing their chests on the city’s beaches! At the time, bathing suits had to cover men from neck to knee. Cocktail lounges were approved in 1947, but Sunday sports weren’t legalized until 1950.