Making Ontario

Making Ontario

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Making Ontario
    Book Description:

    Wood traces the various threads that went into creating a successful farming colony while documenting the sacrifice of the forest ecosystem to the demands of progress, progress that prepared the ground for the railway. Ontario was a going concern before the railway came - the railway simply streamlined the increasing trade with an international market that drew on Ontario for a multitude of farm products and a continuing output from the woods.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6804-4
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xxi)
  6. Illustrations
    (pp. xxii-2)
  7. 1 “Progress” and the Confrontation with Nature
    (pp. 3-11)

    This is the rhetoric of progress in a “new era” for Ontario (Canada West), as proclaimed by the Queen’s representative at the sod-turning of the Ontario, Simcoe, and Huron Railway. Only twelve years earlier a different governor general had spoken of two nations warring in the bosom of a single state – and, with specific reference to Upper Canada, of “a monopoly of power and profit.”² That representative, the controversial Lord Durham, had been dispatched to Canada to investigate the Rebellions of 1837, which, in Upper Canada at least, had been triggered by perceived barriers put in the way of ambitious,...

  8. 2 Changing the Face of the Earth
    (pp. 12-22)

    It takes little reflection to realize that the activities taking place on the farms of nineteenth-century Ontario – cutting and rooting out trees, burning debris from clearing, draining wetlands, driving off or killing wildlife, erecting structures - would have had a profound environmental impact. The timber exploitation had perhaps an even greater effect on the waterways – at least before the main canal building – through the scouring and gouging of river banks by rolled or dragged logs; damming and diverting of streams to expedite the logrush; and sedimenting of lakes and streams with eroded soil, “deadheads,” and debris from felled trees. In...

  9. 3 Agents of Transformation: An Expanding Population
    (pp. 23-49)

    The first Euroamerican farm settlers to enter Ontario were seeking a safe haven from a war that had not gone in their favour. These refugees from the assaults of the Revolutionary War mounted an assault of their own - the typical New World process of clearing the woodland. The population of Ontario, which grew from the arrival of the first Loyalists in 1780, did not have the supposed frontier “take-off,” but was modulated through the years by various external and internal influences, sometimes growing, sometimes stagnating. A vigorous population increase in the first decade or so, when the Loyalists were...

  10. 4 Building a Social Structure
    (pp. 50-83)

    Upper Canada had difficulty living up to Lt-Gov. John Graves Simcoe’s expectations. In the four years that Simcoe governed the colony, he did his best to inculcate in the ragtag society “British Customs, Manners, and Principles.”² Most of Simcoe’s successors attempted to do something similar, each according to his own priorities and formula. But, for this colony at the very edge of international trade (and ultimately at the edge of imperial preoccupations), sophistication and economic success were slow to come. The colonial administrators designed and built a settler colony, with the usual elite class of administrators, lawyers, and merchants.³ This...

  11. 5 Making a Living
    (pp. 84-119)

    The “few facts” proffered by the official in charge of the 1851–52 census were in the form of an exhaustive disquisition on agricultural crops and population growth. This report showed that Canada West in particular had increased in population faster than even the well-endowed states south of the Great Lakes. In certain agricultural activities Canada West was more productive than neighbouring states. “Upper Canada ... produces six bushels more Wheat per individual than Ohio – the latter producing in her staple Indian Corn twenty-nine times more than Canada, which produces 77 times more Peas, and 54 per cent, more Oats...

  12. 6 Circulation of Goods, People, and Information
    (pp. 120-138)

    On a woodland frontier, getting around was normally difficult. Over time the roads would have improved, although as long as they were dirt, or even gravel, there was no improvement that could long withstand the steadily increasing traffic. The narrow iron-shod wheels on the wagons quickly cut into the surface of even a well-drained and compacted road. During the 1830S the ingenious process of macadamization, in which broken stone was compacted to form a kind of interlocking resistant surface, was introduced to the province. With turnpiking, which included grading and side-ditch drainage, all-season roads began to be extended toward the...

  13. 7 The Urban Role in an Agricultural Colony
    (pp. 139-156)

    For all the supposed progress bestirring Ontario after the War of 1812, there were very few sizable urban places by 1840. Even the ongoing clearing of land by a growing body of farm settlers produced less than three dozen townships with a population density greater than thirty-six (five or six families) per square mile (see figure 3.3C). Incorporation is an indication of the ambitions of an urban place and usually a signal of growth. There were few centres incorporated before 1850, as illustrated by figure 7.1, although there was a small flurry of incorporation in 1850-51 when the first railway...

  14. 8 Conclusion: A New Land, Handmade
    (pp. 157-166)

    In the 1850S Ontario was still a British colony not far removed from what Simcoe had envisioned sixty years earlier. The colony had inherited much of British culture along with tens of thousands of colonists; but rather than a clone of the old country, it had become an amalgam of New World and Old - a compromise between British allegiance and administrative structures on the one hand, and North American know-how and flexibility on the other. By mid century the province was opening for settlement the last of its land that was promising for agriculture, although few previously settled areas...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 167-182)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-198)
  17. Index
    (pp. 199-205)