It Was 100 Years ago Today- Facts that will Astound You!


Z95.3 Vancouver posted a list last week and I thought I would share. However, there are discrepancies here and there, so I added my own notes- so please feel free to add yours.

The Year is 1915– Just One Hundred Years Ago

The average life expectancy in men was 47 years (I looked up life expectancy for Canada and Statistics Canada and it only starts in 1920 to 1922.  Life expectancy was 59 in Canada because of the high infant mortality rate.. people have always lived as long a life as they do is graded on a curve.)

Fuel for cars was only sold in drugstores
Only 14% of homes had a bathtub
Only 8% of homes had a telephone


The maximum speed limit in town was 10mph
The average wage was 22 cents an hour for a 40 hour week and the average yearly salary was 200 to 400 a year (My understanding is that very few worked only 40 hours/week, it was more like 50 hours. My Grandfather paid my father 10 cents an our to work at his firm in the 30s- so I guess it depended on where you worked.)

An accountant could expect to earn $2000 a year
A dentist could make $2500
More than 95% of births took place at home


Ninety percent of all doctors had no college education. Instead they attended so-call medical schools, many of which were condemner in the press and the government called them substandard.(The medical schools that were condemned in the press, were condemned by Carnegie and Morgan, to shut them down so they could mold doctors to their way of thinking … prescribing drugs that don’t heal, and keep patients as customers for the rest of their lives.)

Sugar costs 4 cents a pound
Eggs were fourteen cents a pound

girls (1)

Women washed their hair only once a month and use Borax or egg yolks for shampoo. “Should the hair become heavy with grease during the intervening weeks much of it can be removed by sprinkling the locks thickly with fine corn meal”

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering their country for any reason. (It actually began in 1879. What I found concerning was head tax on Chinese immigrants)

The five leading causes of death were: Pneumonia and influenza, Tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease and stroke ( Pneumonia and influenza cannot be grouped as one cause of death. They are two different afflictions. Therefore, the SIX leadings causes of death were listed.)

The population of Las Vegas was only 30–(Las Vegas was founded when 600 parcels of land were auctioned off, with 600 parcels sold that implies more than 30 people. The county had 2200 people for instance, and it unlikely most were outside Las Vegas)



Crossword puzzles, canned beer and iced tea had not been invented yet. (Inaccurate– the first known published crossword was in December 1913 (in he New York World), the oldest printed recipes for iced tea date back to the 1870s etc.)

There was neither a Mother’s Day nor a Father’s Day ( In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. Although Anna Jarvis was successful in founding Mother’s Day, she soon became resentful of the commercialization and was angry that companies would profit from the holiday. First modern American Mothers Day was celebrated in 1908 in West Virginia. Fathers Day was 1910 in Spokane, Washington.)

Two out of every 10 adults could not read or write and only 6% graduated from High School.  In 1910 7.7% and in 1920 6% of the total population was unable to read or write in any language. In 2015, three out of every 10 adults on Facebook cannot read nor write:)


Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at local drugstores. Back then pharmacists said: “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach, bowels and is in fact, a perfect guardian of health. (By 1914 you needed a prescription for heroin purchases. Not exactly a total roadblock, but it wasn’t OTC in 1915. Coco Cola had cocaine in it, and they advertised to drink it for a pick me up)


Photo courtesy of the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum from their Forever Young display now on.


Eighteen percent of households had at least one full -time servant or domestic help. (Now 90%+ of households have domestic help from appliances like refrigerators, toasters, washing machines, dishwashers, etc)

For the year of 1915 there were only 230 reported murders in the entire United States. (Just about everyone had a gun!!! Don’t recall hearing about mass shootings in 1915–but just a thought here but perhaps you didn’t hear about mass murders because the press was so slow and television and radio were so far off.)


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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