ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED | FEBRUARY 1940 | CANADIAN COUNTRYMAN
This cartoon first appeared in February 1940 edition of Canadian Countryman. It depicts a man representing “rising wages” leapfrogging over another representing “rising prices” and a caption exclaiming: “We hope they don’t start playing leap-frog again!” The cartoon demonstrates the fears of many farmers during this period, as Canada was beginning to emerge from the Great Depression, that rising wages would have the effect raising the costs of production. Agriculture during this period was heavily dependent on hired seasonal labour, and it was feared that rapid wage increases would make the cost of their produce prohibitively expensive, further driving up wages.
As the economy and employment figures began to improve in 1939-40 with the outbreak of war, Canadian farmers were hopeful but cautious that their fortunes would also improve. At the outbreak of the War, the federal government established the Agricultural Supplies Board to ensure that Canadian soldiers and their allies overseas were adequately fed. This proved to be critical as Canada became an agricultural lifeline for Great Britain following the Fall of France in the summer of 1940. These conditions had the effect of improving farm prices and delivering a measure of renewed prosperity to Canadian farmers. In addition, labour-saving technology rapidly made its way onto the farm in the post-war period. This mechanization was most effective in the widespread adoption of tractors and combine harvesters which greatly reduced the manpower (and animal-power!) needed to farm.