Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
William “Bible Bill” Aberhart was manna from heaven to Canadian cartoonists of the “Bible Belt” in the mid-thirties, in the depths of the drought and depression. Aberhart was a large, corpulent, pasty-faced flim-flam authoritarian with a background as a high school teacher and radio evangelist. He bore more than a passing resemblance to Mussolini and took on an even closer resemblance as the cartoonist Stew Cameron warmed to his task of skewering him in the Calgary Herald. Aberhart believed in the Rapture, the Anti-Christ, the devil, end-time biblical prophecy, the Second-Coming, and the weird economic theories of Major Douglas, British economist and originator of Social Credit.
Under Aberhart, who had never held office, Social Credit swept to power in 1935. He did this by promising a $25 a month dividend for every adult male or female citizen of Alberta, and the day after his victory bums were already dropping off boxcars in Calgary and Edmonton searching for the “dividend” offices, and people with money made a fearful rush on their bank accounts, moving their money out of reach in the East. Aberhart issued Scrip in the form of dollar bills which came to be known as “baloney” bills. By Christmas 1936 ‘Scrip’ was dead in the water and on February 27, 1937 Aberhart admitted his credit plan was a failure.
Bible Bill a Biography of William Aberhart, by David R. Elliot and Iris Miller, Edmonton, Reidmore Books, 1987.
Aberhart and the Alberta Insurrection 1935-1940, edited by Ted Byfield, Edmonton: CanWest, 2006. Contains many of the Arch Dale and Stew Cameron cartoons.