IN THE 1920s

Music and Dancing

Originating in New Orleans, Jazz was the music of the decade. Popular jazz musicians were Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and Duke Ellington. Other genres such as blues and swing took form and would prevail in the 1930's. Dances of the decade were:

  • Shimmy
  • Black Bottom
  • Waltz
  • Fox-Trot
  • Tango
  • Turkey Trot
  • Cheek to Cheek
  • Strut
  • Butterfly
  • Bunny Hop
  • Charleston


Silver and silent movie screens arrived in Canada; however, silent movies were usually not silent. Famous movie stars were Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Toronto-born Mary Pickford, and Clara Bow, the "It" Girl. Comedy was the dominant film genre at the time as humour was often slap-stick (exaggerated violent activities). In 1927 when "talkies" arrived, theatre jobs for musicians disappeared. There were over 900 movie theatres in Canada at the end of the decade, 451 of which presented vaudeville and motion picture entertainment.


Hollywood stars Walter Huston, Norma Shearer, Marie Dressler, Fray Wray, and Mary Pickford are just few of the Canadians that played a significant role in the early films. Jack Warner, along with his three brothers, founded Warner Brothers Pictures in 1923, which became Time Warner's Inc. after a few decades and what is now known as one of the world's largest media and entertainment companies.


- young women who rejected modern dress and behaviour. They symbolized the decade.

  • sleeveless or cap-sleeved
  • scoop-necked
  • no waistline or a dropped waist
  • strapped shoes called Mary Janes


  • black bowler hats
  • popular clothing fabrics were flannel and tweed
  • silk tied in small geometric patterns or diagonal stripes were secured with tiepins
  • two-toned white and tan, or white and black shoes
  • by 1925, baggy pants known as Oxford bags were the prefferred style
  • Rudolph Valentino's hairstyle


  • J. E. H. MacDonald
  • Frank Johnston
  • Franklin Carmichael
  • A. Y. Jakcson
  • Arthur Lismer
  • Fred Varley
  • Lawren Harris

The group was formed in 1920 with the determination to paint Canada in a fresh and distinct manner. The group also worked with Tom Thomson and inspired Emily Carr.


Over 300 American magazines circulated within Canada during the decade. For every Canadian magazine printed, eight were imported from the United States. Canadians feared that we were losing our culture as they were reading more American books and magazines than Canadian publications.


  • sleighing (tobogganing), snowshoeing, and skiing in the winter
  • company picnics for families