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Unequal Beginnings

Unequal Beginnings: Agriculture and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario until 1870

Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    Unequal Beginnings
    Book Description:

    John McCallum's analytical and historical account of economic patterns that persist today makes a solid and original contribution to Canadian economic history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8289-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
    John McCallum
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    The economic development of Canada’s two largest and central provinces has differed from earliest days. From the time of the first fragmentary statistics of the early nineteenth century, average incomes have been higher in Ontario than in Quebec. Since the establishment of the first manufactories, the two provinces have displayed notable differences in their patterns of industrial development. As compared with Ontario, Quebec has tended to specialize in the more labour-intensive, lower productivity branches of industry. As well, the city of Montreal has occupied a dominant position among the urban centres of Quebec to a degree that has never been...

  5. 2 The rise and fall of the Ontario wheat staple
    (pp. 9-24)

    The early settlers in Ontario had little agricultural surplus since only five to ten acres of land could be cleared each year. Nevertheless, immigration was substantial, and by 1812 the Niagara Peninsula and the lands bordering the major waterways were all under cultivation. In the judgement of the leading authority on Ontario agriculture, Robert Leslie Jones, by 1830 pioneer conditions were no longer characteristic of the province as a whole.¹ In that year the population stood at some 215,000.

    New settlers almost invariably adopted a system in which three or four acres were devoted to family needs and the rest...

  6. 3 The agricultural crisis in Quebec
    (pp. 25-44)

    Possibly from 1802, probably from 1815, and certainly from 1830, Quebec agriculture was in a state of crisis which persisted until the middle of the nineteenth century. This crisis, in stark contrast to the booming Ontario wheat economy, lay the seeds of many of the structural differences between the two provinces today.

    The forty years following the British Conquest in 1760 were a period of modest progress for French-Canadian agriculture. As in the past, most of what was produced was consumed on the farm, but over the years the farmers came to depend increasingly on the market. By the 1790s...

  7. 4 Agricultural transformation in Quebec and Ontario, 1850-70
    (pp. 45-53)

    The two decades between 1850 and 1870 saw a transformation of agriculture in both provinces. In Ontario a diversified pattern of production replaced the monoculture of the wheat economy, while in Quebec the retreat from the market was halted and reversed as the agricultural sector began to recover. In the course of these structrual transformations, as the farmers of the two provinces began to operate in the same markets and to respond, albeit in different ways, to the same forces, the worlds of Quebec and Ontario agriculture began to converge; and it is therefore appropriate to treat the two provinces...

  8. 5 Urban and commercial development until 1850
    (pp. 54-74)

    Urban development in Quebec and Ontario is a study in contrasts. Between 1850 and 1870 the two largest cities of Quebec made up about three-quarters of the urban population of that province, while the equivalent figure for Ontario was between one-quarter and one-third. To arrive at the share of Quebec’s urban population held by Montreal and Quebec City, one would have to include the fifteen largest towns of Ontario in 1850 and the thirty largest towns in 1870. Looking at the matter in a different way, dozens of urban centres filled the Ontario countryside, but outside Montreal and Quebec City...

  9. 6 Transportation
    (pp. 75-82)

    Although the early roads of Ontario received a very bad press, recorded complaints were generally voiced by British travellers of aristocratic origin. As early as 1817 rural residents had expressed mild praise for the serviceability of the roads in their submissions to an investigation conducted by Robert Gourlay. Roads were adequate for the wheat farmer because most produce was either transported to the lake ports by sleigh in the winter or sold to the inland millers. Because time for winter land-clearing was at a premium, the farmer frequently chose the latter course of action despite the higher prices received at...

  10. 7 Industrial development, 1850-70
    (pp. 83-114)

    In neither province had industrial development proceeded much beyond the artisan stage by 1850. The great majority of enterprises employed less than five people, and in the whole country only a handful of firms had as many as a hundred employees. More than three-quarters of those engaged in industrial occupations lived outside the seven largest towns of Quebec and Ontario. The most important occupations were related to apparel (textiles, clothing, and footwear), blacksmithing, and the staple trades (flour milling and lumber). In both provinces these three categories alone accounted for about 70 per cent of the industrial work force.¹ Specialization...

  11. 8 A modified staple approach
    (pp. 115-120)

    The central role accorded to the linkages flowing from Ontario wheat places this work in the tradition of the staple approach to Canadian economic history.¹ On the other hand, I have attempted to deal with two basic issues that are often covered inadequately by the staple approach: first, how does the staple theorist deal with a region that has no staple product; second, how are the linkage effects distributed between the staple-producing region and other regions? Implicitly these issues have been at the heart of the study, as Quebec had no major staple product of its own during most of...

  12. 9 Merchants and habitants
    (pp. 121-122)

    Historians have tended to blame either the habitants or the Montreal merchants for the economic problems facing nineteenth-century Quebec. According to writers in the tradition of Donald Creighton and Fernand Ouellet, Quebec’s agricultural poverty could be ascribed to various shortcomings of the Québécois, aided and abetted by an all-powerful Church. Other writers, notably Tom Naylor, have charged that an anti-industrial bias on the part of the Montreal merchants retarded the province’s industrialization, thereby forcing the Québécois to choose between agricultural poverty and emigration.¹

    The comparison between Quebec and the northeastern United States is useful in assessing these two points of...

  13. Statistical appendix
    (pp. 123-140)
  14. Subject index
    (pp. 141-146)
  15. Index of authors cited
    (pp. 147-149)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 150-150)