Pubdate: Sat, 18 Feb 2017
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: John Mackie
Page: A4

This Week in History: 1922


Vancouver World kept up steady stream of stories on evil of

The evil of drugs has been a recurring theme for Vancouver newspapers
since the city was founded in 1886. But few papers went as far as the
Vancouver World's anti-dope campaign in January and February of 1922.

The tone of the campaign is summed up in an illustration by cartoonist
Ernest LeMessurier on Feb. 18. A sharply dressed "dope trafficker"
cowers before a cat o' nine tails whip being wielded by an arm
labelled "public indignation." The title of the illustration is "The

Modern readers may think that a bit harsh, but a local Conservative
MP, H.H. Stevens, had already proposed an amendment to the Criminal
Code calling for drug dealers to be whipped.

"I maintain that a man who is found guilty of selling drugs to young
boys and girls with the knowledge that it will result in the
degradation of the child's body and soul should be made liable to
flogging," Stevens said.

His amendment was quashed, but the World kept up a steady stream of
stories about the dope menace.

Youth were portrayed as the main victims.

"Dying lad tells how boys and girls are made drug addicts," read the
headline for a Jan. 17 story about a 28-year-old addict whose body
"lay twisted out of all recognition to the human body."

"Spindling legs that would disgrace a baby," wrote an anonymous World
reporter. "Twisted limbs that cannot straighten. Arms that are
petrified into misshapen caricatures."

The addict shot up every four hours, a habit that cost him $5 to $8
per day.

"I've been through hell - plain hell - many and many a night," he
said. "If I only had the nerve I'd bump myself off. But I've lost even
that, I haven't the guts to croak myself."

A World story on Feb. 6 estimated there were 3,000 drug addicts
"exclusive of Orientals" in Vancouver, which had a metropolitan
population of 231,784.

"I know of one cabaret in this town where only a short time ago thirty
couples were dancing on the floor, and of those 30 couples only four
were free from the drug habit," said Dr. A.P. Procter of the B.C.
Medical Association.

"In the same cabaret, in the washroom, 10 boys were at one time seen
taking dope."

Procter didn't mention the cabaret by name, but another Feb. 6 story
told of a "snow party" at the Dominion Hall on Pender Street where a
young couple "without any attempt at concealment beyond stepping into
the shadows, proceeded to indulge in taking cocaine."

Many of the World stories had a racist tone toward Vancouver's Chinese

"All boats from Asia bring in illicit drugs," said a Jan. 16 headline.
"Oriental crews largely engaged in traffic."

Chinatown was portrayed as the centre of the drug epidemic, and a

"Sleep amid filth," read a front page story on Feb. 4. "Chinese lie
jammed together like sardines: 38 men in one small bunk room." The
story was accompanied by a photo of a ramshackle building labelled "A
Chinatown eyesore."

The World piled it on with a story about how American drug addicts
were being driven out of Seattle by an anti-drug campaign, and were
coming north.

"Vancouver is facing an invasion of drug addicts, peddlers,
traffickers and other hangers-on of the drug ring," said the Jan. 23
story. "The price of 'dope' in Seattle has risen. Many of the peddlers
are unable to provide it ( because of the crackdown), and the result
is that are forced to come to Vancouver. It is the same with the
addicts. Unable to get their 'shot' in Seattle, they are coming to
British Columbia."

Ninety-five years later it's hard to discern how much of the series
was hype, but the Red Cross was sufficiently alarmed to send out a
warning to small towns around the province, where dope peddlers were
said to be expanding their "nefarious trade."

"Dance halls need special watching," it said. "Close chaperonage of
girls is the greatest safeguard, and parents should insist on this.
Watch the stranger in town. (And) avoid 'snow' parties where snuff
(cocaine) is given."
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