The Canadian Economic Account
The Canadian fur trade dominated our economic history well into the latter 19th century when we became, officially, Canada in 1867. It started with Aboriginal First Nations more than 300 years before Confederation. They had established vast trading networks, but there was no evidence of a defined merchant class among the many native groups.
The fur networks were originally created by Aboriginal First Nations.
Then they came: the Spanish, French, British and Portuguese. The British and French dominated the trade in the area that would eventually become Canada. The French did not fair that well at the start. The more successful British eventually founded Hudson’s Bay Company, the oldest corporation in North America still in existence.
Meanwhile, the fisheries on the East coast, dominated by fishers from southern Europe, satisfied the demand for fish, especially among Catholic countries. The Maritimes were the most industrialized and prosperous in British North America.
Hudson’s Bay Company is the oldest corporation in North America
still in existence.
By 1886, there were 38 chartered banks. Some of Canada’s largest insurance companies were founded, like Sun Life and London Life. With the founding of the Winnipeg Commodity exchange in 1904, Canada now had three stock exchanges including the Montreal Stock Exchange (founded in 1832) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (founded in 1861).
In 1870, the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada was the world’s longest.
In addition to the canals that had been built before the 1840s, Canada expanded its transportation network. The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, linking Montreal, Toronto, Maine, Michigan and Chicago was, in 1870, the longest railway in the world.
Canada, however, was experience more migration than immigration, as people were unwilling to travel west and live in the cold. Many went to the United States for warmer temperatures. It is interesting to note that economists say that US isolationist policies hurt our economy and that the provinces have never emerged from the post-Confederation slump.
Economists say that US isolationist policies hurt our economy and that the provinces have never truly emerged from the post-Confederation slump.
However, after 1895, things began to boom. Central Canada experienced significant industrialization. The west was benefitting from continuous expansion and migration as well as immigration. Technological innovations, like the combine harvester, replaced the steel plow. The practice of dry farming enabled farmers to grow wheat profitably on the semi-arid southern prairies.
Everything from flush toilets, radios, automobiles and electric lights transformed society. And then, following the collapse of the US central banking system in 1929, the Great Depression brought things to a grinding halt.
It would take another world war to turn things around. During World War 2 (1939 -45), the Canadian economy became more integrated with the US economy. Tariff barriers were removed. Trade agreements, like the “Canada-United States Automotive Agreement” and the “Hyde Park Declaration” were brought into being.
Canada, since World War 2, became a welfare state and resource rich.
Perhaps, most significantly, Canada, since the war, became a welfare state. We also became resource rich. In 1947, Leduc Well #1 struck crude oil in Alberta. In 1967, the Oil Sands plant in Fort McMurray, Alberta, began the expensive process of extracting the tar from the sand. In the early 80s and 90s, we battled recessions. As we celebrate our 150th birthday as a nation, the Canadian economy relies mostly on petroleum, real estate and income trusts.
The Canadian economy now relies on petroleum, real estate
and income trusts.
Finally, in 2017, Cashco Financial and ATB in Alberta, the former emerging from the payday loan paradigm and the latter a traditional bank, joined forces to create financial accessibility for everyone in Alberta. One thing can be said of Canadians after 150 years, we are innovative and, like the fur traders, we are persistent and resilient. Happy Birthday O’ Canada.
In 2017, Cashco Financial and ATB Financial joined forces to create financial accessibility for everyone in Alberta.