This year the Albert County Museum is celebrating the 7th Annual RB Bennett Day in conjunction with our Canada 150 celebrations. Why, though, do we have such a day? Why is RB Bennett so important? Sure, he was born and raised in Hopewell Cape. He was the 11th Prime Minister of Canada. But really. What’s the big deal with this guy anyway?
Sometimes, the best way to answer a question is with another question: What would Canada look like without Richard Bedford Bennett?
You wake up in the morning to your radio alarm, set to “Information Morning” on CBC radio. You hear that interest rates are holding and that Viola Desmond is going to be on the new ten dollar bill. Turning on Facebook, you read an article about the necessity of tipping servers in the United States, and can’t imagine what it would be like to only make $3.50 an hour. At least minimum wage guarantees some income here in Canada! Then your sister calls to find out what Remembrance Day service you will be attending next week. You have gone together to pay your respects since you were children. Your grandfather had died overseas.
Without RB Bennett, that entire scenario doesn’t happen. Without RB Bennett, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation doesn’t exist. There is no Bank of Canada, so interest rates are all over the map depending on what bank you are at. Currency, let’s not get started on the politics there. Minimum wage? It is nothing but a dream. And who knows if you will be able to go to Remembrance Day services, since it’s not a national holiday.
And here’s an even bigger surprise – these four things are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Employment Insurance, Income Assistance, the Weekly Day of Rest Act, and the list goes on and on as to all of the things Bennett had a hand in making happen at the national level. Without RB Bennett, the Canada we love would have a very different social and political landscape.
The biggest deal of all is that he made it happen during one of the most difficult times in our country’s economic history – the Great Depression. He set the foundation for further social services and reform. Richard Bedford Bennett was the kid who lived next door, a shipbuilder’s son, a “Cape kid” that changed the face of Canada.
I’d say that is a pretty big deal.
If you’d like to know more about RB Bennett, come visit the Albert County Museum. Specifically, join us on July 1 to celebrate Canada 150 and for the special unveiling of a new feature to our museum, and other incredible additions to the RB Bennett Commemorative Centre.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 734-2003.
*Thank you to Connecting Albert County for publishing this article.