The Year 1926: The Boom-to-Bust 20s

Now it’s 1926. The Boom-to-Bust Twenties are half over. The stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression is only a few years ahead. During most of the decade W.L. Mackenzie King is Canada’s prime minister. Sun Yat-sen, founder of China’s first republic, has died. Two of his associates, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung, are rivals. George V reigns as monarch of the British Empire. Pope Pius XI occupies the Chair of St. Peter.

Fr. William C. McGrath is editor of China. In its seventh year the magazine has 15,000 subscribers. An annual subscription costs .50 cents.

Glowing reports from the Society’s first mission band to China was the predominant theme in 1926 issues. Typical headlines:

  • “A Glorious Send-Off: Our Missionaries Reach Chuchow” (having travelled 10,000 miles in 46 days);
  • “Father Fraser’s First Mission Tour” (in three installments);
  • “Father Morrison’s First Convert” (“a lad of exceptional ability”);
  • “Father Serra’s First Mission Tour”.

Regular features that year: editorials; News from Far and Near; numerous sepia-coloured photographs of people and places; Our Little Missionaries, a section for younger readers that included stories, poems, riddles, tricks, jokes and appeals to support the missions with pennies, nickels and dimes (“Have you a mite box?”); excerpts from readers’ letters but without names; Nonsense (jokes); appeals for adult donations; lists of contributions received; and advertisements, mostly by Toronto firms. Sample quotations indicated the tone of these 1926 pages:

  • “Our three departing heroes are but the vanguard of the Canadian missionary army.”
  • “Today we set out to take possession of and to evangelize Chuchow, the district teeming with immortal souls in ‘darkness and the shadow of death.”‘ (A message to readers from Fr. Fraser, who first went to China in 1902.)
  • “During Lent, many of our Chinese Christians eat nothing until evening. They work hard all day… I wonder will you find such faith in Canada? (Fr. Vincent Morrison’s Diary.)
  • Easter Appeal: “The greatest thing you can do for the salvation of those teeming millions in the darkness of paganism is to go yourself as a missionary, to buy souls with your very life, even as Jesus did.”
  • Joke: “It isn’t always those who cough during the sermon who are ready to ‘cough up’ when the collection plate is passed around.”
  • “After you are gone will your work continue? It will if you make provision in your will for those who are working to win souls in China.”
  • “There’s a battlefield in China; there’s a war that’s raging now. There’s a mighty army mustering; won’t you join us in Chuchow?” From a poem by “H.F.X.S” (Fr. Hugh Sharkey).
  • “In this picture (of Chinese youths) you see the three seminarians who were recently sent from our school in Chuchow to the seminary at Ningpo. They are the first fruits, in vocations, of our missionaries there.”

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