Getting Down to Business: Canada, 1896-1919

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Introduction VIEW-8570 MP-0000.25.64 MP-1983.15.2 VIEW-1904 VIEW-11557.0 MP-1984.105.4 MP-1977.76.37 VIEW-3376


In the early twentieth century, Canada became a diversified modern industrial economy that stretched from coast to coast. Transcontinental railways and tariff barriers framed the expansion. Captains of industry, merger kings and finance capitalists applied the capital. Foreign investment and technology flowed into the country. Booming exports of wheat, minerals and wood balanced the economy. Immigrants augmented the labour force and boosted consumption.

Banks, telegraph companies, department stores and mass-circulation newspapers catered to a national clientele. Manufacturers discovered mass production and new processes. Automobiles, aluminum, name-brand processed food and sheet steel emerged from factories. Electricity fueled the advance, powering everything from streetcars to cigarette making. When war came in 1914, Canada directed its new industrial muscle to making steel and munitions.

Advertising, business education and applied research swelled the quality and quantity of Canadian industry. The cities were the beachhead of the new prosperity -- millionaires' mansions and tightly-packed industrial suburbs mirrored the winners and wage labourers of Canada's new industrialism.