Canadian Regions: A Geography of Canada

By Donald F. Putnam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 24
The Patterns of Commercial Activity

THE function of commercial activity is to satisfy the needs and desires of mankind. Goods must be bought from those who produce them, and be carried and sold to those who use them. This may be a very local transaction or, even if distant, still within the same country, or it may involve areas outside the country. All the phases and services of commerce enter into these distribution patterns. We have, in the previous chapter, discussed the location and magnitude of the various productive industrial groups in Canada; in this chapter, the importance of external and domestic trade, transportation and communications, and other services will be discussed.


External Trade

Growth of External Trade

External trade has always been important to Canada but has grown enormously in recent decades (see figure 325). In the early periods furs, fish and timber were exchanged for a wide variety of European manufactured goods, foods and beverages. The chief exports of 1890 were lumber, cheese, fish, cattle, squared timber and grain. By 1910, wheat had become the leading commodity, followed by lumber, metals, cheese, fish and cattle. In the 1930's, the three most important items were wheat, newsprint and metals, followed by lumber, woodpulp, meats, wheat flour, automobiles, whiskey and raw furs. During World War II, munitions and war supplies, which included much motorized equipment,

Figure 325 The Growth of Canadian External Trade. 1868-1948. Within four decades Canada has become one of the greatest trading nations in the world. (Data from D. B. S.)

comprised more than one-third of the greatly expanded volume of exports. The leading exports in 1948 were newsprint, wheat, woodpulp, lumber, flour, aluminum, fish, ships, copper, grains other than wheat, cattle, nickel, farm machinery, bacon and hams, other meats, seeds, pulpwood, zinc, asbestos, machinery and automobiles.

The leading imports of 1890 were woolen goods, coal, sugar, steel, cotton goods, raw cotton, tea, silk and fruits. In 1910 the list was headed by coal, woolen goods, cotton goods, steel, sugar and machinery. One of the largest items was "settlers effects,'' brought in by the multitude of immigrants who came in at that time. During the 1930's, the leading classes of imports were petroleum, coal, steel, machinery, automobile parts, fruits, sugar, cotton, woolens, grain products and rubber. The

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