This Week in History (1942): A noiseless New Year, a call for billets, and a debate to stop traffic

January 1, 1942: A “Silent Night”

New Year’s Eve 1942 was a quiet one in Prince George, thanks to a war-time order for silence along Canada’s western coast.

The Prince George Citizen reports that on December 30, 1942, the officer in charge of the Allied Pacific Command issued a request for “all vulnerable areas, which include Prince George, . . . to celebrate New Year’s Eve with as little noise as possible in either public places or homes, and for all communities to prepare to be blacked out at once if called upon to do so.” The measures were enacted due to the presence of enemy ships off the coast of Alaska, and because authorities were concerned that air raid sirens, if sounded, might otherwise “go unheeded in the din of New Year’s Eve parties.”

Opening homes for war evacuees

New Year’s Day 1942 also brought a call for local residents to offer temporary or permanent accommodations for 1,500 children and 150 women who would be sent inland from Prince Rupert in the event of an attack on the Pacific Coast.

“It is pointed out that an attack might develop at any time, and any persons able to take one or more children or adults should register [at City Hall] at once,” the Prince George Citizen reported on January 1, 1942.

To stop or not to stop

Of a less sombre nature, City Council spent its last meeting of 1941 debating the pros and cons of installing stop signs — then a novel concept — at the increasingly busy intersections of Vancouver St. and 7th and 10th Aves. 

Mayor A.M. Patterson wasn’t initially in favour of the proposal. “Stop signs may do more harm than good, if they are not observed by motorists,” he told Council.

“It is a matter of educating the motorists,” Alderman Alex Moffat sagely replied.

The signs were eventually approved and erected in October 1942, in accordance with a new traffic bylaw that established several “through streets” (including Vancouver St.) as a means of improving traffic flow.

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