Magazine article Canadian Speeches

Decline of Small Towns

Magazine article Canadian Speeches

Decline of Small Towns

Article excerpt

The railroads and industrialization began more than a century ago to shift Canada's population from rural farm areas to the big cities. The Weekly Sun, a leading Ontario farm newspaper published in Toronto, lamented the decline of little towns in its issue of January 21, 1897.

A rather melancholy part of our present situation is the stagnation or decline of business and population in most of our little towns. A few of the little towns which happen to be surrounded with farming districts of exceptional excellence are doing well; but of most of them it must be said that they are stationary, if not retrograding. The abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States [a free trade agreement in effect between 1854 and 1866], by breaking up the traffic between the two countries, ruined our lake shipping, and, with it, much of the business of the border towns. But the main cause of the change has been the tendency to centralization which, at the present day, everywhere prevails.

In former times most of the little towns could boast of small manufacturing industries, such as carriage, wagon and harness factories, where all the parts of the carriage or wagon were made. They had also foundries, boot and shoe shops, tanneries, taverns and other concerns, each of which employed a few workmen. Manufacturing on the larger scale is now everywhere the rule; and manufacturing on a large scale means centralization. Specialization, or manufacturing in lines, has the same effect. …

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