Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Right to Drinking Water

Milk and Water: Scandal, Lies and Cover ups in Jazz Age Montreal.

I was listening to a Yale lecture on Capitalism, that claimed there were stages of population growth...that first stage lots of births and lots of deaths, the second fewer deaths and still lots of births, and then later births decline..and then like Japan and the West, eventually deaths outnumber births..

One line the prof said struck me: the second stage is issued in very often by access to clean water...


A comment by Canada's Industry Minister, James Moore, a week ago caused a stir. He claimed it is not his job to make sure children have enough to eat.. then he retracted.

The message boards on the CBC lit up, as they say, but a few people said it was the parents' job to feed kids.. They agreed with what he said, although the Industry Minister probably meant the feeding of kids wasn't in his departmental purview.

But I wanted to write, How about clean water? Is it a parent's job to provide clean water?  If suddenly tomorrow ALL water was bottled and had to be purchased would this be OK? (Don't laugh. I suspect this may soon happen.)

Of course, the story of water is a complicated one; in Montreal in the 1910 era, providing clean water was a major issue in the city, because that city had the highest infant mortality rate outside of Calcutta (so it was said).

The first pipes brought into Montreal were NOT to supply homes with drinking water, they were to supply fire engines and protect industrial buildings.

 Jules Crepeau, my grandfather and the Director of City Services in Montreal 1920-1930..from his City Hall File. He started out as message boy in the Health Department in 1884...He was ousted by Camillien Houde and his cronies, and after negotiating a huge pension for life he resigned. But in 1937 he was run over by an off duty police officer. Hmm...

It was up to a citizen to buy his own water, either from these peddlers who got it from the River or with a well. But then Montreal sent its sewage into the St. Lawrence, so they had to make sure the 'mouth' was not near 'the bum.'

But then typhoid broke out and disease doesn't discriminate between rich citizen and poor citizen, so soon EVERYONE wanted everyone to have clean water.

Too bad starvation isn't contagious.

Read Milk and Water on Amazon...

The Prince of Wales and Brother, (David and George) in front of City Hall in 1927, with Mayor Mederic Martin in his purple robes with Ermine fringe.... This was the era of American Prohibition, so Montreal was swinging, but also in the throes of a typhoid epidemic due to contaminated milk. David never starved, but according to the movie the King's Speech, Albert his brother was often sent to bed without supper by a mean nanny.