When World War II broke out, Canadian citizens were issued with ration cards containing food stamps to receive food at select stores. The ration cards were designed for families and would contain enough food for three or more people. Single people or couples would be unable to either consume or store the portions allotted, as refrigeration was not as common as it is today. To solve this problem, the Canadian Government issued tokens to represent smaller amounts of food.
Rationing was necessary as much of the food produced in Canada was sent to soldiers stationed overseas, which resulted in shortages of essential foods. The first to be rationed in January 1942 was sugar, at an amount of one cup of sugar to each adult per week. Two months later tea was rationed to 24 tea bags per adult per week, and by the year end, butter was reduced to four ounces per week. In 1943, meat was rationed, which we can see by the meat token ration from the Mission Museum’s collection.
Canada not only provided sustenance for their own solider citizens, but also to Britain in the form of wheat, flour, bacon, cheese, eggs, and evaporated milk. As you will see in the Berry and Dairy section of this exhibit, Mission’s contribution to the war effort was through fruit preserves.
Collapse of the Mission Bridge
In the 1950s, the only bridge between Mission and Abbotsford was a forty-five year old train bridge, which was not well-suited for cars. Due to consistent flooding from the Fraser River, the bridge had been weakened by high waters, and succumbed to its sustained damage when it heaved and collapsed at 8am on July 24th, 1955. For some time afterward, its temporary replacement was a tugboat with a long wait.
July was tourist season, and Mission relied on the bridge for transportation and supplies from the south of the Fraser. Despite this dire situation, a new bridge was not constructed until July 23rd, 1956. In the meantime, Mission suffered an immense economic loss – local businesses’ sales plummeted, a sawmill and a cannery closed, and events were cancelled. This temporary disruption to usual traffic flow caused tourists and shoppers to go elsewhere.
While the global coronavirus pandemic has been an ongoing social and economic event, the temporary supply chain issues affected Mission grocery stores primarily in 2020. In comparison to the tight food restrictions of WWII rationing, 2020 presented a much less severe disruption in the choices and amounts of food available. However, items like flour and toilet paper were frequently understocked, and limits were placed on the amount of staples that a shopper could buy in one trip, such as milk and eggs. Growing customer frustrations prompted grocery chains to create advertising material to promote kindness to grocery store employees, as seen in the t-shirt artifact pictured in the gallery below.
Photographs courtesy of the Mission Community Archives.