An Economic History of Canada

By Mary Quayle Innis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
MINERALS AND NEWSPRINT

Sharp adjustments became necessary in Canada after the Great War. From the early nineties to the time of the war, she received enormous numbers of new settlers; in the new period immigration almost ceased. An open labour market was succeeded by widespread unemployment. The flow of population to the western prairies swung back to crowd the cities. Where wheat had been the dominant crop, minerals rose to importance. Railroads fell from their heyday of prosperity as motor cars, trucks and buses crowded the highways built or improved for their use. New industries such as hydro-electric power and pulp and paper rose rapidly to prominence with the new and vigorous tourist trade. As years of depression followed each other in dragging succession, the wheat crop which had been Canada's crown became a problem, the railway systems which had been her pride became an incubus.

While Canada has, since the war, taken a position of enhanced national importance, she has been, by virtue of that position, bleakly exposed to the cold winds that sweep through the world of international trade and finance. The range and application of government control has increased steadily in nearly every department of economic life. No other development is more characteristic of the new period upon which Canada has entered than the wide and deepening importance of government control.


THE PRAIRIE REGION

The war stimulated an expansion in the production of wheat which was already rapid. With high war prices and an exceptionally favourable year, wheat production in the West was actually doubled, though men were called to war service. New ground was broken with feverish haste as settlers pushed frantically forward into grazing lands which had never borne more than a sparse cover of native grass. Farms were increased in size and new holdings taken up without regard to the suitability of soil or rainfall. Varieties of wheat, such as Marquis, Garnet and Reward,

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