© McCord Museum
Line 45; or our Wall of China
February 12,1876, 19th century
Ink on paper - Photolithography
39.4 x 28.6 cm
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
Before the adoption of the National Policy in Canada in the second half of the 1870s, American manufacturers were flooding Canadian markets with their products virtually without penalty, a practice known as "dumping" in which companies sell their products in foreign countries at prices lower than those paid in the country of origin.
This cartoon shows Uncle Sam eagerly passing various products into Canada. It denounces the disparity between the tariffs of the two nations, which greatly benefited goods produced in the United States while undermining the competitiveness of Canadian industry.
In response, in 1879 the Conservative government of John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) officially adopted an economic development program known as the National Policy. It aimed to stimulate manufacturing in the new country, largely through protectionist measures that raised tariffs on foreign products in order to encourage Canadians to buy Canadian products.
The United States had a large manufacturing sector that could dump surpluses of hardware items, cotton and sugar in Canada at lower than cost price. Canadian industry, small in comparison, is represented here by typical products such as shoes and maple syrup.
The setting, reminiscent of the Great Wall of China, is the Canada-U.S. border, geographically situated at the 45th parallel, north, in the eastern part of the country.
This cartoon from 1876 was published three years before the adoption of the National Policy in March 1879. At the time Canada was led by the Liberals under Alexander MacKenzie (1822-1892), an advocate of free trade.
The character trying to dump a barrel of goods over the border into Canada is the famous Uncle Sam, symbol of the United States. Canada is represented by a typical "habitant" from Quebec, wearing a woven sash (ceinture fléchée).