Friday, August 6, 2010

From Information Age to Dark Age in a few easy steps.

Nadruco Products. 1910 pamphlet. Nadruco was National Drug Company of Canada

With all this controversy around the Cons wanting to drop the long form census I thought I'd blog about the NaDruCo atlas I have from 1911, which is one of the most informative documents I have from the Nicholson stash.

It's a promotional brochure, for the NadruCo product line and if you 'read it' you can get a clear look at "what changes" and "what stays the same."

Yes, medical science has come a long way, but human gullibility stays the same.

Human beings will believe anything: especially when it comes to 'their survival' or other aspects of self-interest, especially protecting their children. That's why the advertisements made by NaDruCo for its many weird sounding products, sound no different from ads made for similar health products on TV today. In short, the medicine has changed (mostly as fish oil is still considered a must for health) but the pitch hasn't. OK. ads were more wordy then, although J. Walter Thompson, the legendary ad agency, was creating short lifestyle ads.

Here's a sample of an ad in the NADRUCO atlas promotional brochure:
"In the strenuous rush of commerce, the severe strains of depressing social conditions, overstudy, changes of female life, or impending attacks of disease, the nerves become impaired. Irritability, brain worry, Sleeplessness ensue, accompanied by lack of Energy, Emissions, Impotency, Nervous Dyspepsia, Partial paralysis, palpitations of the heart,incontinence...NADRUCO nervozone is specially prepared to cover all such cases..."

Hmm. Gee, 100 years ago this company was pitching a tonic as a cure (or a patch or crutch) for the depressing social conditions of the day. Live in windowless room in Griffintown with 10 kids sleeping in the same bed and floodwater coming in each spring, work in a factory 12 hours a day? No problem, take a pill! (Whoops, you can't afford such pills, too bad. The anxious middle class, who desperately want to stay comfortably middle class, with take them for you.)

Sound familiar? I heard on the BBC that 10 percent of the population of Glasgow was on Prozac, today.

Anyway, we live in an age of 'information overload' which makes it doubly important to have 'the numbers' about the world, to make sound decisions about public policy and for future reference. Yes, historians need statistics. I have used Stats Cans historical statistics to research the background to the Nicholson letters, Besides, I'd rather fill out a long census, on penalty of jail if I don't, rather than have the government be allowed to look into my computer and trace my every action by having access to my IP on the grounds of public security. Now, THAT is a gross invasion of privacy. But it really isn't about privacy, it's about control, and "the truth" as stated by numbers gets in the way of control, or being able to manipulate the population with 'untruths' that tweak their 'fear centers.' And bubblespeak, such as you are going to fill new prisons with people who have NOT been accused, let alone NOt been convicted, actually resonates with some people because it is nonsense so they just fill in the blanks for themselves and hear what they want to hear.

Ironically, this NaDruCo promotional brochure is also an almanac and it tips its hat to the upcoming 1911 census, by listing the populations of various cities and towns in Canada from the 1901 census and by giving the reader a place to add the 1911 numbers. Here's a small sample: In 1901, the population of Canada was 5, 371,315. (It rose to over 7 million in 1911.) The population of Halifax in 1901, 40,831, of Fredericton, 7,117, of Montreal 267,730. (As I wrote in an earlier blog, the population of Montreal grew hugely in the next decade, and that is why Flo and Marion got jobs teaching in the city.) Of Westmount, 8,856, of Barrie, Ontario 5,949, of Ottawa, 59, 928, Toronto, 208,040,
North Bay, 2,530, Oshawa, 4, 394; and out West they had a 1906 census, so 1906 Winnipeg, 90, 153, up from 43,340 in 1901 , Moose Jaw, 6, 249, Edmonton, 11, 167 in 06, up frm 2, 626 in 1901. Vancouver in 1906, 26, 133...

Anyway, last night I read over the 1900 household accounts of the Nicholson family. 1900 is just a year, like any other, but it's the year people consider a kind of benchmark year. (And all because we have 10 fingers.) I am going to transcribe the items in the 1900 accounts in a pdf and complement them with pictures from the Eaton's catalogue. The list shows that Nicholson parenting was more modern than Edwardian. The kids were paid for 'work' and also given lots of pennies to spend, and Herb was even given 25 cents just for 'passing at school.'

Ah, the middle class....