CBHA/ACHA President Joe Martin Writes on The 1929 Stock Market Crash: A Tale of Two Cities

Joe Martin, President of the Canadian Business History Association, contributes the article The 1929 Stock Market Crash: A Tale of Two Cities.

We present the following Summary, followed by the full text version of the article:

As The Economist recently reminded us “The rumbling draws near: Financial Markets are in Trouble”. As has happened so many times in the past if the markets are in trouble people cast their minds back to October 1929 and the Great Crash. While the Great Crash impacted most developed markets the images are almost entirely of New York and Wall St.

This article explores what happened in the two major Canadian markets, Montreal, and Toronto. Since many reading this article will not realize that St. James Street in Montreal was known as the Wall Street of Canada in 1929 the article will trace the evolution of first the Montreal Stock Exchange [MSE] and then the two Toronto exchanges, the Toronto Stock Exchange [TSE] and the Standard Stock and Mining Exchange [SSME], that became one.

The article spells out not only the dramatic declines by industry sector and for individual companies but describes some of the accompanying events including personal tragedies, political events, and shady trading practices. After looking at the trends from peak to trough we move on to see how the TSE which, was only 40% of the size of the MSE in 1929, would evolve to become  the largest Canadian exchange by 1937.

This requires a brief economic analysis of the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario followed by an examination of the importance of Gold in the TSE’s success. While this dramatic change in the status of the two Exchanges was the coup de grace in the struggle for commercial supremacy in Canada, we look back at the other two major events that led to Toronto’s eventual triumph – the Battle of the Bank Acts immediately post Confederation and Toronto becoming the Bond capital of Canada during World War I.


CBHA/ACHA President Joe Martin Writes on The 1929 Stock Market Crash: A Tale of Two Cities