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Dominion of Capital

Dominion of Capital: The Politics of Big Business and the Crisis of the Canadian Bourgeoisie, 1914-1947

Don Nerbas
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 404
  • Book Info
    Dominion of Capital
    Book Description:

    Dominion of Capitaloffers a new account of relations between government and business in Canada during a period of transition between the established expectations of the National Policy and the uncertain future of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6280-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Canadian Capital in the Age of Empire
    (pp. 3-26)

    The tall buildings lining St James Street can be seen from miles away, a cluster of grey structures hovering above Montreal’s bustling cityscape. From the street itself the neoclassical architecture is even more imposing, creating an almost cavernous effect and projecting the impression of timeless wisdom. Well-dressed men march about purposefully in heavy coats; perhaps a few carry the MontrealGazetteor theFinancial Postunder their arm. On this frosty January day in 1929, the septuagenarian president of the Royal Bank of Canada, Sir Herbert Holt, is scheduled to address the bank’s directors for its annual meeting at eleven...

  5. Part One: Big Business from Triumph to Crisis

    • 1 Provincial Man of Mystery: Howard P. Robinson and the Politics of Capital in New Brunswick
      (pp. 29-68)

      Aitken, Dunn, Killam, Pitfield: the best known Maritime-born financiers of the first half of the twentieth century all left their native region to make their mark.¹ Howard P. Robinson (1874–1950) was different. He stayed in New Brunswick to assemble a huge array of business connections that touched a wide range of sectors – all from a Saint John base. But his public profile was barely perceptible, and even regional specialists today have little more than vague knowledge of his activities. Robinson’s influence in business, politics, and cultural life was, nonetheless, considerable, especially after the First World War, when he...

    • 2 Charles A. Dunning: A Progressive in Business and Politics
      (pp. 69-113)

      Unlike feudal or other traditional societies whose social structures are dependent upon familial succession, liberal capitalist ones allow for a certain level of fluidity in their social structures – including a freedom to fail, as suggested in recent years by a U.S. cultural historian who has noted the widening definition and growing fear of “failure” in nineteenth-century America.¹ Of course, the obverse path – to success – has historically received more attention within public discourse and has played a significant role in legitimizing the social inequalities inherent in liberal capitalist societies. Charles Avery Dunning (1885–1958) represented the latter trajectory...

    • 3 The Dilemma of Democracy: Sir Edward Beatty, the Railway Question, and National Government
      (pp. 114-154)

      On 20 November 1931, the Royal Commission to Inquire into Railways and Transportation in Canada was established amid widespread concern about the viability of the nation’s railway systems and growing worry about Canada’s credit after the onset of the Great Depression. More widely known as the Duff Commission, after its chairman, Lyman Duff, commission members were mandated to “inquire into the whole problem of transportation in Canada, particularly in relation to railways, shipping and communication facilities therein, having regard to present conditions and the probable future developments of the country.”¹ After conducting hearings that included people of varied political stripes...

  6. Part Two: Continentalism and the Managerial Ethic

    • 4 Stewardship and Dependency: Sam McLaughlin, General Motors, and the Labour Question
      (pp. 157-200)

      In early April 1937 all eyes were on Oshawa. Workers picketed the General Motors plant, while armed forces – including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), and a special force recruited by Ontario premier Mitch Hepburn, derisively labelled “Sons of Mitch’s” and “Hepburn’s Hussars” – waited only a few miles away in Toronto. The mood was tense and the threat of violence palpable. Oshawa autoworkers had affiliated with the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO), drawing inspiration from that organization’s recent success south of the border at the General Motors operations in Flint, Michigan, and other...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • 5 Engineering Canada: C.D. Howe and Canadian Big Business
      (pp. 201-241)

      In late December 1946 Canada’s minister of reconstruction, Clarence Decatur Howe, left Montreal with a party of distinguished gentlemen. Humming through the sky on a Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) plane bound for Nassau, the small party looked forward to golf, bridge, and male camaraderie in comfortable surroundings. Howe had secured use of the plane from TCA president H.J. Symington, or, as he called him, “Herbie.” The men joining Howe in the crown corporation plane were a distinguished group: Dr T.H. Hogg of Ontario Hydro; C.F. Sise Jr of Bell Telephone; senator and former National Liberal Federation president Norman Lambert; and...

  7. Conclusion: Après le déluge
    (pp. 242-250)

    On 28 September 1941, Sir Herbert Holt died. His death was announced on the loudspeaker at a baseball game at Delorimier Stadium in Montreal. An initial hush fell over the crowd – then a cheer. The reaction revealed Holt’s personal unpopularity in Montreal, especially as head of the local utility – Montreal Light, Heat & Power Consolidated. Even among colleagues Holt was considered something of “an old cuss,” though his personal secretary, Sévère Godin, claimed Holt’s steely image was a façade masking shyness and loneliness.¹ Whatever the case, Holt’s unpopularity was rooted in a more generalized political and ideological crisis of...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 251-356)
  9. Index
    (pp. 357-378)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 379-381)