Use file > print in the menu bar to print this page.

Getting Down to Business: Canada, 1896-1919

Duncan McDowall, Carleton University

See the web tour

Introduction:

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.


VIEW-8570
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Grain elevators and train, Claresholm, AB, 1918
Wm. Notman & Son
1918, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-8570
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Through 1896-1919 farming remained the largest single component of the Canadian gross national product. Wheat, oats and barley production surged. In 1896, the country produced 55.7 million bushels of wheat; by 1919 that total had risen to 189 million bushels. Wheat and flour exports - 97 million bushels in 1919 - propelled Canada on to the world trading stage, enabling it to outstrip other grain economies like Australia and Argentina. Moving grain to export required an elaborate infrastructure. Country grain elevators received grain from farmers, cleaned it and graded it. Railways moved it to water's edge where it could be loaded on to ships. Two new transcontinental railways -- the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific -- were built early in the twentieth century to expedite exporting. By 1919 Canada had 81,105 kilometres of railway in operation. Terminals in places like Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay) and Montreal had a storage capacity of 231.2 million bushels. Specially designed freighters carried the grain through the Great Lakes to tidewater. The price of No. 1 Northern wheat, the premier grade, became a barometer of the country's economic health.

What:

The grain elevators that dotted the prairie landscape were elaborate wooden edifices that contained conveyor belts, cleaning bins and storage silos. The elevator became an icon of Canadian prosperity, appearing on bank calendars and immigration literature.

Where:

The first elevator was erected in Gretna, Manitoba in 1881 by the Ogilvie Milling Company. Larger concrete grain terminals began appearing in ports in the 1880s and by 1919 lined the harbours of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Canada was soon exporting grain storage expertise to countries as far away as Argentina.

When:

Canada's grain boom powerfully shaped the birth of western Canada. Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905. The state was obliged to regulate the grain trade by building government-owned elevators and melding bankrupt transcontinental railways into the Canadian National Railway in 1920.

Who:

The grain trade fueled the emergence of some of Canada's largest companies: the Canadian Pacific Railway (1881), Canada Steamship Lines (1913) and Ogilvie Flour Mills (1902). It also prompted farmers to start their own elevator and grain-marketing companies (e.g. Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Co., 1911).

MP-0000.25.64
© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
Railway wharf, Halifax, NS, about 1914
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1914, 20th century
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.25.64
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Canada's ports were its gateway to the world. As exports of primary products like wheat surged during the Laurier Boom of 1896 1913, the nation invested huge amounts of capital in improving saltwater port facilities. While exports to the growing American market could be moved by train, exports to the still dominant markets of England and Europe moved by ship. Montreal remained Canada's leading port, accounting for over three million tons of sea borne cargo in 1919, followed by Vancouver, Halifax and Saint John. The two Atlantic cities vied to be Canada's preferred winter (i.e. ice free) port of export. In 1913 federal monies were used to begin construction of the huge Ocean Terminals facility in south east Halifax. The Intercolonial Railway, Atlantic Canada's economic lifeline to central Canada, extended its tracks to the Terminals to ease transshipment.

Halifax's waterfront was dotted with docks visited weekly by ships bearing famous, ocean going corporate names such as Cunard and Furness Withy. Freighters carried Canadian exports to every continent of the world and returned with imports of manufactured goods and new Canadians.

What:

Port development reflected shifting national economic fortunes. Vancouver would grow as Pacific exports expanded; Halifax would have to fight to preserve its share of exports, except when war in Europe gave a strategic advantage.

Where:

Montreal was strategically located on the St. Lawrence River corridor that tapped into the industrial and commodity producing heartland of Canada. In the 1920s an effort would be made to open new saltwater outlets to foreign markets; Churchill on Hudson's Bay would become a grain port.

When:

In December 1917 a ship collision in Halifax harbour resulted in a fearsome explosion that killed 1,600 people.

Who:

Halifax was the entry point for millions of new Canadians; in 1928 Ottawa would open a new immigrant receiving facility at Pier 21. The port would be the last sight of Canada for thousands of Canadian troops heading for Europe.

MP-1983.15.2
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Interior of telegraph office control board, Winnipeg (?), MB, about 1920
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1920, 20th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
20 x 25 cm
Gift of Dr. John Crawford
MP-1983.15.2
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The telegraph was the information highway of the nineteenth century. Invented by American Samuel Morse in the 1830s, the telegraph spread across North America alongside the railway. The railway carried freight and passengers and the telegraph conveyed information. The telegraph contributed to what American business historian Alfred Chandler has called "system building." It not only allowed information to move almost instantaneously over distance, but it also provoked a revolution in business organization. Telegraph companies relied on trained employees, standardized procedures and highly decentralized operations. They also promoted corporate bigness - "union" telegraph companies that reached across the continent.

Canada's first telegraph company appeared in 1846, but the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1885 pushed the lines coast to coast. The landing of submarine oceanic cables on each coast, first at Heart's Content, Newfoundland in 1866, gave Canada a global reach in communications. In 1886 a message was sent from Westminster, BC, to Canso, NS, and on to England in the space of minutes. By 1919 Canadians had sent and received 15.1 million cables and telegrams. The emergence of large companies like the Canadian Pacific Railway Telegraph Company impelled the federal government to regulate the industry. In 1912 the Board of Railway Commissioners stipulated that the transmission and content of telegrams be handled by separate companies.

What:

The social and economic expansion of Canada in these years depended upon the fast and dependable transmission of information. News of everything from wheat prices to war casualties was delivered by telegram.

Where:

Telegraph offices, usually close to the railway station, dotted the Canadian landscape. Their presence gave Canadians a sense of connection to the rest of the country. The telephone - 779,000 of them by 1919 - would enhance this national intimacy.

When:

A telegraph office was the technological marvel of the time. Skilled operators sent and received messages and runners then delivered telegrams on foot or bicycle. An automated "ticker" was developed to telegraph financial information on a paper ribbon. Wire services carried the news.

Who:

Telegraphers acquired an enticing vision of Canada's business possibilities from their work. Many graduated to other forms of national entrepreneurship. [object=II-118415]Charles R. Hosmer[/object] (1851-1927) of Montreal graduated from the presidency of CPR Telegraphs to become a millionaire promoter of flour mills, mines, textiles, papermaking and banking.

VIEW-1904
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Interior, Montreal Stock Exchange, Montreal, QC, 1903
Wm. Notman & Son
1903, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-1904
© McCord Museum

Description:

The Montreal Stock Exchange building opened its doors in 1903 on St. François Xavier Street, the "Wall Street" of Montreal. Designed by the same architect who did the New York Stock Exchange, this prestigious building was impressive because of the elegance and sobriety of its style, which was a break with the dominant architecture at the end of the century.

The Montreal Stock Exchange became a key financial institution at the beginning of the 20th century. Founded twenty-five years earlier, for a long time it had a limited number of brokers and a low volume of transactions, particularly in the banking sector. However, after 1900, its growth was spectacular. This was a period of substantial concentration of capital and business. These new companies financed their activities by issuing stocks and bonds that were bought and sold more and more on the Montreal Stock Exchange. The Montreal Stock Exchange would thus become a powerful symbol of Montreal economic power and control that businessmen exercised over the waterways, the natural resources, mines and factories of the entire country.

Source: Urban Life through Two Lenses (Consult the See Also box on this page)

Keys to History:

The dramatic expansion of Canada's industrial economy required large injections of capital - long term investment in factories, railways, public utilities and resource development. Much of this capital came from abroad; English and American investors favoured Canada as a stable and lucrative place to invest. But Canadians also began to invest in their own country, buying shares (a share of ownership in an enterprise) and bonds (a long term, fixed interest loan) on Canadian stock markets. A stock exchange allowed industrial promoters to "float" shares in new ventures and allowed individual investors to exchange existing shares and bonds with other investors.

The Montreal Stock Exchange was Canada's oldest and largest exchange. As early as 1832 Montrealers were exchanging shares informally in coffee houses. In 1874 the Montreal exchange obtained a legal charter. Trading became formal and scheduled. In 1904 a grand, pillared exchange was built just around the comer from the St. James Street business district. By 1914 182 companies were "listed" on the exchange and an average 10,000 shares were exchanged every day. Other exchanges opened across the country: Toronto (chartered in 1874), Winnipeg (1903), Vancouver (1907) and Calgary (1914). In 1913 a telegraphed "ticker tape" began carrying share prices from coast to coast.

What:

Trading posts on the exchange floor allowed stock traders to gather and bid for shares. The price of a share reflected the changing demand for that share. By 1920 a "seat" or right to trade on the floor of the Montreal exchange cost $36,000.

Where:

While at the heart of Canada's industrial economy in Montreal, the Montreal exchange was very much on the margins of world capital markets. By 1910 the New York Stock Exchange annually traded 164.2 million shares. Montreal traded 2.1 million and Toronto .9 million.

When:

Canada's capital market emerged at a time when Canadians began to have money surplus to their daily needs and began to seek ways in which to secure their future through investment. Until the 1930s, capital markets were largely unregulated and fraud and manipulation of the market by "insiders" was frequent.

Who:

By 1920 the MSE had 85 members, who were often affiliated with New York and London investment companies. Ambitious financiers like James Dunn (1874-1956) and [object=II-156536]Max Aitken[/object] (1879-1964) went on from Montreal to lucrative careers in London, the world's financial capital.

VIEW-11557.0
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Royal Bank of Canada, Lunenburg, NS, copied 1911
Anonyme - Anonymous
1911, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
16 x 21 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-11557.0
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The British North America Act in 1867 placed banking squarely under Ottawa's jurisdiction. By the 1890s, however, most Canadian banks were still rooted in the regions. Only the Bank of Montreal, founded in 1817, straddled the nation. In 1896 there were 37 federally chartered banks with names like the Bank of British Columbia and the Summerside Bank. Many failed because their business was restricted to one region and was therefore vulnerable to the booms and busts of that region.

By 1919 the Canadian banking had become nationally integrated. There were now only 19 federally chartered banks, almost all of them exclusively headquartered in Montreal and Toronto. By 1920 three banks - the Bank of Montreal, the Royal Bank and the Bank of Commerce - controlled 52% of Canadian banking assets. Broadly based national banks were well positioned to diversify their business across the country. Critics argued that central Canada dominated the system. Typical of the shift to national banking was the Royal Bank of Canada, founded as the Merchants' Bank of Halifax in 1869 but since 1907 headquartered in Montreal as the Royal Bank of Canada.

What:

Across Canada, the local bank branch was the citizen's contact point with the national system.
Bank branches were built to project a sense of stability and integrity to customers. Neo-classic features like pillars and stone construction sent such a message. Humorist Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) quipped that they reminded him of religious temples.

Where:

Canadian banking was based on the Scottish branch banking system, a spider web of local branches tied to a central head office. Money could thus be moved with facility around the nation. In 1890 there were 426 branches in Canada; by 1920 there were 4,676 - a branch for every 1,900 Canadians.

When:

The Merchants' Bank of Halifax had opened in the fishing town of Lunenburg on Nova Scotia's south shore in 1871. By 1919 the newly-rebuilt Lunenburg branch was just one of the Royal Bank of Canada's 662 national and international branches

Who:

Banking offered young men entry into the new urban professional class. "Bank boys" - the tellers and clerks who manned the branches - were white-collar workers whose careers might carry them across the country and, as the Canadian banks established themselves abroad, to places as far away as Cuba. Bankers were considered "respectable" pillars of any community.

MP-1984.105.4
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Goodwin's department store (future site of T. Eaton Co.), St. Catherine Street, Montreal, QC, ca. 1912
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1912, 20th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
20 x 25 cm
Gift of Mr. Earl Preston
MP-1984.105.4
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The department store was the beachhead into the modern consumer society. Nineteenth-century retail was based on specialized dry goods stores supported by wholesalers who assembled goods from manufacturers and distributed them to merchants. Credit and barter were the usual terms of business between merchant and his wholesaler and customers. Beginning in the 1870s, in cities like Paris and New York, the department store brought varied lines of goods all under one roof. Each "department" offered a different product line. The wholesaler was squeezed out; stores now bought directly from manufacturers or established their own factories. And sales were moved to a cash basis - guaranteed quality at a guaranteed price.

Irish immigrant Timothy Eaton (1834-1907) pioneered the department store in Canada. Opening his first department store on Toronto's Yonge Street in 1869, Eaton spread his stores across the country - Winnipeg in 1905, for instance - and used catalogue sales to reach areas that would not support a store. Others to emulate Eaton's success were Robert Simpson (1834-1897) in Toronto and Nazaire Dupuis (1843-1876) in Montreal. By 1910 Eaton's, with 17 factories, its own brand names, a delivery service and 8,800 employees, was a model of vertical integration.

What:

The department store was a marvel of engineering. Supported by steel framework, its floors were airy and capacious. Electricity provided the lighting and powered elevators and escalators. Pneumatic tubes carried messages and payment between departments. Restaurants served lunch. Picture-windows full of goods enticed shoppers.

Where:

The department store gave new meaning to the term "downtown." Stores like Eaton's, Dupuis Frères and [object=VIEW-16835]Morgan's[/object] along Montreal's Ste. Catherine Street made that neighbourhood the city's prime shopping area.

When:

Timothy Eaton opened his first department store in Toronto in 1869. The store catered to the needs of a wage-earning, cash-driven society. "One price, cash, and satisfaction guaranteed," Eaton's promised. This prompted a new style of retailing: sale days, advertising and Santa Claus parades, all designed to stimulate sales.

Who:

The department store democratized consumption. The Eaton's catalogue sat on virtually every rural kitchen table. City folk flocked to Eaton's for everything from shirts to cookies. By 1919, the Eaton's empire registered sales totaling $123.6 million.

MP-1977.76.37
© McCord Museum
Photograph
The Star office decorated for Queen Victoria's Jubilee, St. James Street, Montreal, QC, 1897
Alfred Walter Roper
1897, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
10 x 12 cm
Gift of Mr. Vennor Roper
MP-1977.76.37
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The Montreal Star was the most successful example of a new breed of Canadian newspaper, the mass-circulation daily. Founded in 1869 by Montreal journalist Hugh Graham (1848-1938), the Star shifted away from narrow, nineteenth-century, party-political journalism to embrace a strategy dedicated to advertising revenue and popular readership. It sold for a penny and appeared daily. It introduced photographic illustrations and divided the news into sections - business, sports, women's world, etc. Politics was confined to editorials. By 1899 the Star had a daily readership of 52,600. It quickly found a national readership; by 1913 40% of its circulation was outside Montreal.

Between 1899 and 1921 daily newspaper circulation grew 233 per cent. Other cities copied the Star's success. The Toronto Star was founded in 1892 by Joseph Atkinson. Newspaper publishing became "big business." By 1921 Canada had 113 dailies.

What:

The mass-circulation daily became the template of twentieth-century newspapers. Divided into sections, it capitalized on new, cost-reducing printing technology, plentiful Canadian newsprint, wire services for its news and a corps of professional journalists. Advertising and broad circulation generated the profits.

Where:

Montreal was Canada's largest (population 467,000 in 1911) and wealthiest city, and thus the most fertile ground for daily newspapers. French-speaking Montrealers were served by their own dailies, like La Presse, founded in 1884.

When:

The emergence of the mass-circulation daily newspaper coincided with several social trends in Canada: growing literacy, the availability of disposable income for entertainment, broader political participation and electric lighting for evening reading.

Who:

Hugh Graham's newspaper success led to a knighthood in 1908 and a baronetcy -- Lord Atholstan -- in 1917. His grand home still stands on Sherbrooke Street near the [object=MP-0000.865.5]McCord Museum [/object].

VIEW-3376
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Blast furnaces, Sydney, Cape Breton, NS, 1901
Wm. Notman & Son
1901, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-3376
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

In the late-nineteenth century, steel was the muscle of nationalism. Nations with a steel industry were nations to be reckoned with. The improvement in steelmaking - essentially by driving impurities out of molten pig iron with blasts of air and doses of purifying chemicals - gave industry a tough yet malleable metal that could be fashioned into everything from skyscrapers to battleships. Railways rolled on steel rails and armies marched with steel bayonets and bullets. Men like Andrew Carnegie and Frederich Krupp created huge integrated steel empires that stretched from the coal mine to the rolling mills where hot steel was bent into useful shapes. Nations without steel were deemed vulnerable and lacking in self-sufficiency. Until the 1890s Canada had little steelmaking; a lack of coal and of good quality iron ore plus a flood of cheap imported steel deterred local entrepreneurs from making steel.

Mergers and higher tariffs on imported steel changed the situation. Steel mills emerged in Hamilton and Sault Ste Marie in Ontario and Sydney, Nova Scotia. At the Sault's Algoma Steel Co. and Sydney's Dominion Iron and Steel, American capital and expertise loomed large, but Hamilton's Steel Company of Canada was created in 1910 by Canadian capitalists. The results were spectacular: in 1910 Canada made 29,000 tons of steel but by 1911 this had risen to 882,000 tons. By 1919, 78,589 Canadians worked in the steel industry and Canadian trains rolled on Canadian rails, while automobiles and refrigerators were fashioned from local steel.

What:

Steel was a miracle material. It was durable and strong. The addition of alloys like nickel made it stronger. A well-equipped rolling mill could shape hot steel into anything from massive I-beams for structural engineering to thin sheets for auto bodies.

Where:

The principal market for Canadian steel was central Canada, but a lack of coal and iron ore there meant that areas like Cape Breton, where the minerals could be found, attracted steel plants. Over time, steel companies - Stelco and Dofasco - in Ontario's golden horseshoe area around Hamilton came to dominate the Canadian industry by shipping coal and ore to their docks.

When:

Canada was a late comer to the age of steel. By 1914, however, the country had a modern steel industry enabling it to support a huge munitions industry, which turned raw steel into the sinews of war - bullets, shells and ships.

Who:

The men who gave Canada its steel industry became national heroes, feted by prime ministers and sought after by investors. American Francis Hector Clergue (1856-1939) became the "Soo King" by building the huge Algoma Steel mill at the Sault. By 1902 his Lake Superior Corporation employed 7,000 men making steel, paper and power. A year later the empire collapsed because of financial chicanery, but Algoma survived.

VIEW-17254
© McCord Museum
Photograph
General view of Shawinigan Water and Power Co., Shawinigan, QC, 1917
Wm. Notman & Son
1917, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-17254
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

A "second industrial revolution" gripped Europe and North America in the late-nineteenth century. Driven by new technologies and energy sources, this revolution saw industrialization intensify and broaden. Since heat and mechanized production were central to the new industrialization, cheap and reliable hydro-electrical energy was a key ingredient in this surge. The inventions of electrical lighting and motors in the 1880s by Thomas Edison (1847-1931) and Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) sent industrial developers searching for fast-flowing, large-volume rivers from which they could generate hydro-electricity. Quebec's St. Maurice River valley, flowing off the Laurentian Shield into the St. Lawrence, beckoned.

In 1898 a syndicate of Montreal and American businessmen formed the Shawinigan Water and Power Company to harness the power of the St. Maurice and thereby entice industry to set up business nearby. Shawinigan power was soon applied to industries like aluminum smelting and paper making. As transmission technology was improved, power was sent to nearby Quebec cities to energize other industries. Shawinigan Power used its monopoly privilege over the St. Maurice to become Canada's largest private energy provider, until it was bought by Hydro-Quebec in 1963.

What:

Hydroelectricity is produced by directing fast-moving water through pipes - penstocks - down a gradient into turbines; these turn generators that convert the kinetic energy of water into electrical impulses. Hydroelectricity -- "white coal" -- paid handsome profits. By 1919 Canada was generating 5,353 million kilowatt hours of mostly hydroelectric power. Shawinigan Power increased its profit by clustering heat-using industries - paper, aluminum and calcium carbide (for acetylene) - near its generating stations.

Where:

Shawinigan, like Niagara in Ontario, was situated near the emerging industrial heartland of Canada. Cheap power energized Quebec industrialization and allowed Montreal to provide the amenities of modern life, such as tramways and lighting, to its citizens. As electrical transmission technology improved, hydroelectric development reached deeper into Canada's hinterlands (to James Bay, for instance), allowing power to come to the industry, not industry to the power.

When:

Electricity made possible the smelting of aluminum, a light, corrosion-resistant metal that quickly transformed manufacturing, construction and consumer products ranging from paint to kitchen pots. Both electrical and aluminum production became commercially viable in the 1880s, and thus Quebec found itself in the vanguard of these new technologies.

Who:

Shawinigan had promoters, including Montrealer Louis-Joseph Forget (1853-1911), but it also relied on capital and technology contributed by Americans like James Buchanan Duke (1857-1925). These men were often decried as monopoly capitalists who squeezed out competition and overcharged for their product.

MP-0000.25.875
© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
Block pile, Spanish River Pulp & Paper Company, ON, about 1927
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1927, 20th century
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.25.875
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Paper was a primary ingredient in North America's transition to an urban-industrial society and became the main vehicle for the spread of information. Mass-circulation daily newspapers stimulated consumer appetites through advertising and articles on fashion, the home and business. By 1911 Canada had 143 daily newspapers. American newspapers were equally prolific. Newspapers consumed huge amounts of newsprint. At the same time, the emerging consumer economy demanded paper for packaging, containers for bulk transportation and fancy paper for packaging brand-name products.

The application of chemicals to wood pulp, along with enormous paper-making machines, resulted in the price of newsprint falling from $138 a ton in the 1880s to $45 by 1913. Northern Ontario and Quebec forests became resource hinterlands for southern newspapers. In 1899 Ontario businessmen with American backing were given a huge concession to cut pulp logs along the Spanish River on Lake Huron. The Ontario government stipulated that the logs be chipped into pulp within the province.

What:

Pulp and paper emerged as a response to an increasingly literate and affluent society. Governments catered to this pressure by endowing papermakers with huge forest concessions. Mass production for Canadian newspapers and export was the goal. Little thought was given to the environmental consequences of harvesting the forest so rapaciously.

Where:

Pulp and paper changed the geography of northern Ontario and Quebec. Towns sprang up overnight to provide bases for the assault on the forests. In 1912 Iroquois Falls, Ontario was born when Abitibi Power and Paper Co. won a concession over nearby forests; between 1915 and 1920 a company town - "the Garden Town of the North" - was built by Abitibi.

When:

Early-nineteenth-century paper was made by mashing cotton and linen; by the end of the century it was made by heat-treating wood pulp with chemicals under pressure and then rolling the resultant mash into paper. While much cheaper, wood-based paper lacked the durability of rag-based paper.

Who:

Forest development drew southern capitalists to the northern woods. Spruce Falls, Ontario was developed by a company jointly owned by the New York Times and Kimberly-Clark, the American papermaker.

MP-0000.25.600
© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
Wabasso Cotton Company mills, Three Rivers, QC, about 1930
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1930, 20th century
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.25.600
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Canada's transition to an urban-industrial society was reflected in the clothing people wore. Early nineteenth-century Canadians wore home-made, locally tailored clothes, fashioned from wool and imported cotton. The National Policy of 1878 sought to use stiff tariffs to block imported cotton goods and to stimulate local production of cotton cloth and clothes. By the early-twentieth century, the Policy had borne fruit. Canadian factories were working raw cotton into cloth and then turning it into ready-to-wear clothing. Specialty tailors still made custom clothes, but mass-produced cotton goods manufactured in and around Montreal and woollen goods from Ontario towns like Almonte now dominated the national textile industry.

By 1919, 84,120 Canadians worked in textile, knitting and clothing factories. The Laurier Boom saw a tremendous rationalization of this industry. Through mergers and cartels ( secretive agreements between producers to limit prices and production), the Canadian textile industry became dominated by a handful of large companies like Wabasso.

What:

Ready-to-wear or "off the rack" clothing was one outcome of the new urban-industrial society in which family self-sufficiency broke down and people relied upon a cash economy supported by wages to buy the necessities of life. Department stores like Eaton's built their own clothing factories to supply the demand.

Where:

Montreal dominated Canadian cotton-making. Firms like Dominion Textiles, Canadian Coloured Cotton and Montreal Cotton overshadowed the competition.

When:

In 1907, Charles R. Whitehead (1868-1952) left Dominion Textiles in Montreal to found Wabasso Cotton in Trois Rivières and to specialize in fine cotton.

Who:

Workers in the textile industry were segregated by gender and skill. In 1919 a male loom fixer in Quebec earned 45 cents an hour. A male spinner earned 45 cents an hour, but a woman in the same job earned only 28 cents. Male were seen as long-term employees and women as temporary.

VIEW-24673
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Display of cigarette cases for Desbarats Printing, 1929
Wm. Notman & Son
1929, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
25 x 20 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-24673
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The rapid adoption of cigarette smoking offers one of the most dramatic examples of the democratic spread of cheap consumer goods in the boom years of 1896-1919. In the nineteenth century men chewed tobacco or smoked cured tobacco in pipes or as cigars. The paper-wrapped cigarette was a luxury good for the rich; a skilled cigarette-maker could hand roll only 3,000 cigarettes a day. The invention of the Bonsack cigarette machine in the 1880s meant that cigarettes could be produced continuously by machine. Costs plummeted and profits soared. American James B. Duke's American Tobacco Company was soon flooding the market with cheap smokes; a Bonsack machine could roll, paste and cut 120,000 cigarettes a day. Advertising, branding and packaging meant that rich and poor alike could find a cigarette suited to their taste and status.

Montreal dominated Canadian tobacco. Entrepreneurs like Sir William Macdonald and Sir Mortimer Davis opened huge factories to produce cigars, cigarettes and pipe tobacco. In 1919 Canadian factories delivered just under three billion cigarettes and 209 million cigars. Production was integrated, from the tobacco fields through curing to production and marketing.

What:

The cigarette was the classic example of mass-produced precision. The production process remained constant, while changes in the quality of tobacco and the pitch of the advertising directed the product to different types of consumer. Advertisers portrayed cigarette as socially glamorous; women soon took up the habit.

Where:

While tobacco production was concentrated in Montreal, cigarette smoking conquered the nation from coast to coast and permeated all strata of society. Tobacco factories became sites of low-wage employment, often drawing women into the industrial labour force.

When:

In 1919 Canadian cigarette factories delivered just under three billion cigarettes and 209 million cigars.

Who:

Sir Mortimer Davis (1864-1928) Imperial Tobacco Company of Montreal was put together through the merging of small tobacco companies. Sir William Macdonald's (1831-1917) Macdonald Tobacco Company began as a wholesaler of Kentucky tobacco in the 1850s. Both men lived well and gave generously to charity - Macdonald, for instance, to McGill University.

MP-0000.25.1003
© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
Interior of the Angus Shops, Canadian Pacific Railway, Montreal, QC, about 1930
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1930, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.25.1003
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Urban-industrial society was an engineered society. Modern industrial equipment, public utilities like streetcars and steel-structured skyscrapers all required precision engineering to function safely and efficiently. Metal had to be milled to minute tolerances so that pressure would not escape or gears slip. Mass production depended upon the endless and invariable repetition of such precision.

The railway was a cradle of modern engineering. The locomotive was the epitome of early-twentieth-century engineering - a massive assemblage of precision-engineered parts. It also had to be serviced on a regular basis by skilled technicians. In 1902 the Canadian Pacific Railway opened a sprawling railway service centre in east end Montreal. The Angus Shops built locomotives and rolling stock as well as maintaining them. Its engineers designed locomotives adapted to Canada's harsh winters and long distances. Between 1905 and 1913 the Angus Shops built 502 "D 10" six-wheeled CPR locomotives. By 1919 Canada had 5,947 locomotives in service.

What:

The locomotive was not only an industrial workhorse. It was also a symbol of modernity, used in advertising and national art to project an image of progress and speed. The CPR maintained a publicity department that commissioned artists to portray the glory of steam locomotion.

Where:

The Angus Shops were surrounded by working-class Montreal suburbs - Plateau Mont Royal, Hochelaga and Maisonneuve. Railway workers were the aristocracy of Canadian labour - skilled, well-paid and bound together by a distinctive culture.

When:

The early-twentieth century marked the glory years of steam locomotion. Better engineering allowed the "tractive effort" of the locomotive - its ability to haul freight - to be maximized. The first diesel-electric trains did not appear until the 1920s.

Who:

In the nineteenth century the engineer was a jack-of-all-trades tinkerer, but modern industrial demands made him a professional. The Canadian Society of Civil Engineers imposed professional standards, and universities like McGill and Toronto set up engineering schools.

MP-0000.25.571
© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
The Quaker Oats Company, Peterborough, ON, about 1928
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1928, 20th century
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.25.571
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Much of the capital for Canada's early-twentieth-century industrialization was provided by foreign investment. Canada was capital poor and lagged in industrial research; stiff tariffs also prompted foreign producers to relocate within Canada's borders. Such "branch plants" were encouraged by Canadian politicians because they created jobs and gave Canadians access to the latest consumer goods. By 1913 Fred W. Field (1884-c. 1935), an early observer of the Canadian economy, estimated that 451 branch plants had appeared within our borders. This influx introduced Canadians to still-familiar brand names such as Coca-Cola, Ford and Heinz.

Over time, the immediate benefits of the branch plants would be weighed against the outflow of profits to foreign head offices and the inefficiencies of serving the small Canadian market from plants geared to short production runs. The 1902 construction of a mill in Peterborough, Ontario by the American Quaker Oats Company typified the coming of the branch plant. Within a year of Quaker's opening, Canadian imports of rolled (i.e. machine-milled) oats fell by 1.35 million kilograms. Canadians became quickly accustomed to Quaker brands such as Muffets and Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, now produced in their own country.

What:

The late-nineteenth century saw a revolution in the milling of oats. The grading, cleaning, hulling, cutting and packaging of oats became a continuous assembly-line process. Oat milling became vertically integrated, from "fieldmen" who contracted the raw oats from farmers through mechanized mills to "jobbers" who sold the finished product to retailers. Bulk wholesale sales of oats were displaced by the sale of consumer-sized, branded and advertised packages of oats.

Where:

Peterborough offered Quaker a commercially strategic central Canadian location, close to urban markets and near arterial routes to the farms of the burgeoning West . In 1912 Quaker built another mill in Saskatoon. When fire destroyed the Peterborough mill in 1917, a new mill, described as the "largest in the British empire", was built in its stead.

When:

The 1877 registration of the "Quaker Man" logo gave America one of its earliest processed-food brand names. Quaker opened other branch plants as far away as South Africa and exported its cereals as far away as Australia. Quaker's corporate history described the company's mission as "the alteration of a nation's breakfast." The company's magazine was tellingly called The Earth Quaker.

Who:

Quaker Oats was the product of the 1901 American merger of three mid-western milling companies. The company was a "trust," a merger designed to limit competition and to capture maximum economies of scale. The genius behind the "oatmeal trust" was Henry P. Crowell (1855-1944) who oversaw Quaker's globalization and perfected the mechanized milling of oats.

II-196620.0
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Mr. Frederick W. Thompson in his office (before 1912), Montreal, QC, copied in 1913
Anonyme - Anonymous
1913, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-196620.0
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Nineteenth-century Canadian business was largely a localized, family affair. Only a handful of large enterprises existed, such as the venerable Hudson's Bay Company. The railway age prompted the emergence of large-scale enterprises (like the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s) which required large amounts of capital and specialized management. Distant investors - in New York and London, for instance - had to be drawn to Canadian opportunities, and trained managers - engineers and accountants - hired to operate new industries as varied as textiles and metal fabrication.

The "captain of industry" or "capitalist" performed this crucial function. The captain of industry became a hero of the age, celebrated as a creator of national prosperity. Towns were named for them - e.g. Revelstoke, British Columbia after British investment banker Lord Revelstoke (1828-1892). Politicians feted them. Knighthoods were conferred on such capitalists as Sir Joseph Flavelle (1858-1939), the Toronto meat packer. In 1902 Frederick W. Thompson of Montreal joined telegraph tycoon Charles Hosmer (1851-1927) to purchase and reorganize Ogilvie Flour Mills into a huge vertically integrated milling company.

What:

Ogilvie followed in the footsteps of American firms like C. A. Pillsbury & Co. in capitalizing on the mechanization of milling and then applying advertising and branding to its high quality product. Graded flour - superfine, fine, coarse and bran - found a ready place in emerging domestic science, providing predictable, nutritious cooking in the urban-industrial setting.

Where:

Once a family-owned company, under Frederick W. Thompson's direction Ogilvie became vertically integrated, from the wheat fields in the West through storage elevators in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) to mills and finally to the retail marketing of flour.

When:

In the late-nineteenth century, flour milling was revolutionized by electric power and precision mechanization. Millstones were replaced by grinders, rollers and screen purifiers. The flour barrel was displaced by graded, packaged flour like Ogilvie's "Royal Household" brand, a name that capitalized on the 1913 appointment of Ogilvie as official "miller to the King." Flour exports from Canada surged, reaching 29 million bushels in 1919.

Who:

Frederick W. Thompson (born 1862) began as a bank clerk in Montreal, joined Ogilvie as a manager in Winnipeg and then purchased the company in 1902. As its managing director, he became an expert on western Canadian development and was invited on to the boards of many banks, insurance and power companies. Captains of industry were expected to be socially active, and thus Thompson supported hospitals, hockey clubs and charities.

II-156536
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Max Aitken, later Lord Beaverbrook, Montreal, QC, 1905
Wm. Notman & Son
1905, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-156536
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

In Canada's early-twentieth-century industrial boom, bigger meant better. Mass production, an expanding national market and cost-saving technologies combined to make the merging of small companies into larger corporations, or "combines" as they were called, attractive. There were two types of mergers. Vertical mergers allowed a company to capture all phases of production from primary production (e.g. mining raw ore) to final product (e.g. manufacturing finished goods like nails). Horizontal mergers allowed a company to take over competing companies in the same sector of the economy (e.g. a retailer takes over its competitors selling the same or similar goods).

"Merger mania" peaked in 1909-1913, when 97 mergers totaling $200.7 million in assets were completed. Companies like the Steel Company of Canada (Stelco), Canada Cement, Canadian Locomotive and Canada Steamship were born by merger in this brief period. Fast-acting financiers like Montreal-based Max Aitken orchestrated these mergers, often skimming huge commissions off the transaction by selling "watered" shares in the new enterprise (i.e. shares that inflated the actual value of the assets). The federal government in 1910 introduced legislation to investigate the impact of combines on competition.

What:

Merger mania gave Canada large companies that were identifiably national. Adjectives like "Canadian" or "Dominion" were usually added to the new name to suggest the scope of the new enterprise. These companies also created a class of "industrials" for investors - shares and bonds in industrial enterprises. Hitherto, Canadian investing had been restricted to railways and government bonds.

Where:

The merger movement reinforced the place of Ontario and Quebec as Canada's industrial heartland. The financial promotion of these enterprises was also rooted in Montreal and Toronto. The power of St. James and Bay Streets would in later decades fuel resentment in the West and Atlantic Canada.

When:

Canada was not alone in embracing industrial combines. Huge industrial conglomerates emerged in the United States - General Motors, for instance - and Europe in the early-twentieth century. "Trust busting" became a goal of U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt's administration (1901-1909).

Who:

Max Aitken (1879-1964) was a poor boy from Maple, Ontario who, with little formal education, began a business career as door-to-door bond salesman in the Maritimes and graduated to the inner circle of Montreal high finance by 1902. He orchestrated the Stelco and Canada Cement mergers, making a lavish profit and attracting criticism for his devious methods. In 1910 he left Canada for England, where he entered politics, became a cabinet minister in World War I and eventually built a lucrative chain of mass-circulation British newspapers. Knighted in 1911, he became Lord Beaverbrook in 1917.

MP-0000.2345.11
© McCord Museum
Print
Herbert Holt residence, Montreal, QC, about 1890, copied 1909
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1890, copied in 1909, 19th century
Ink on paper - Halftone
12 x 17 cm
MP-0000.2345.11
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Canada's economic boom in the years 1896-1919 bred a generation of millionaire merchant princes who advertised their commercial success by building lavish homes in Montreal, Toronto and emerging western cities. Montreal's "Golden Square Mile" - a beautiful, leafy enclave on the southwest slope of Mount Royal -- epitomized the grandeur of Canada's newly rich. There architects like Edward (1867-1923) and William (1874-1952) Maxwell designed handsome homes for the elite and then lent their talent to the building of art galleries and country estates. Utilities magnate and bank president [object=II-88214]Herbert Holt[/object]'s home on Stanley Street projected to passers-by the success a poor Irish boy had found in the New World.

Within sight of the Golden Square Mile, the Montreal working class lived in far different conditions in districts like St. Henri and Griffintown. In 1897 social reformer Herbert Ames (1863-1954) reported that the largely Irish and French-Canadian working poor of these areas were packed 300 to an acre and faced a staggering annual death rate of 35.5 per thousand. Ames called this "the city below the hill" and wrote newspaper articles to prompt social reform.

What:

The ostentatious style of Montreal's commercial elite set the cultural tone of the nation. The Maxwell brothers went on to design the Saskatchewan Legislative Buildings, Winnipeg's CPR Station and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Where:

The contrast between the wealth of the Square Mile and the squalor of the "city below the hill" highlighted the inequalities of Canada's new urban-industrial age. With no income tax and little government regulation of the economy, the rich got richer and the poor stayed poor.

When:

New wealth provoked the first calls for social reform in Canada, and in 1900 the federal government created a Department of Labour.

Who:

Herbert Holt (1854-1941) came to Canada from Ireland and made his fortune as a railway contractor to the CPR. Foreseeing the growth of urban-industrial Canada, he refocused his entrepreneurship on power generation and urban utilities like streetcars and the financial wheeling and dealing behind them. He became president of the Royal Bank and a prolific corporate director. Many thought him Canada's richest man.

MP-0000.587.56
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Automobile exhibition, Montreal, QC, about 1914
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1914, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Mr. Fritz Arnold
MP-0000.587.56
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Canada entered the 1896-1919 era as a horse-drawn society and exited it on wheels - train, trolley and automobile wheels. Automotive technology revolutionized Canadian life and business. Canadian carriage-makers tried to make the transition from carriage-making to auto-making. Most - Russell, Tudhope, Gray-Dort - failed as Canadian car-manufacture was quickly overwhelmed by American companies. In 1904 Ford cars were first built in Windsor, just inside the stiff Canadian tariff on imported cars. Oshawa followed in 1907 with Buicks. American ownership soon dominated the Canadian auto industry.

Making cars brought forth assembly-line production, specialized labour and management and aggressive marketing. In 1904 there were only 500 motor vehicles registered in Canada; by 1919 there were 342,400. The auto revolution had many reverberations. In 1914 Quebec created a Department of Highways; a year later Canada's first paved road opened between Toronto and Hamilton. Provinces generated taxes by licensing cars and at the same time lobbied Ottawa for money to pave roads.

What:

An automobile was a piece of precision engineering containing thousands of parts that had to be meticulously assembled. It also required an intricate set of support services: dealers, service stations and spare parts.

Where:

Auto manufacture and purchasing was concentrated in central Canada - Ontario had 145,000 registered vehicles in 1919. Auto-making stimulated new production in many other industries - rubber, chemicals, petroleum.

When:

In 1922 the Billes family of Hamilton established a do-it-yourself auto parts company which would become Canadian Tire Corporation.

Who:

Making and selling autos produced some of Canada's greatest fortunes. New Brunswick tycoon K.C. Irving (1899-1992) began his career selling Ford cars.

MP-1982.69.3
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Testing machines, Berliner Gramophone Company, Montreal, QC, 1910
1910, 20th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
12.7 x 17.8 cm
MP-1982.69.3
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The age of mass production heralded the dawn of mass culture. Movie theatres - 907 of them by 1930 - and recorded music allowed Canadians to amuse themselves whenever they wished. Thomas Edison's 1877 invention of the gramophone initiated a technological battle for the best recording system. German-born Emile Berliner (1851-1929) developed a system of covering zinc disks with wax ("[object=MP-1982.69.8]japanning[/object]") and then engraving sound waves into it before etching the pattern into the disk with acid. The resulting recording could then be repeatedly transposed on to a hard rubber disc that could be played on a rotating platform driven by an electrical motor. Berliner gramophones were cheap, loud and popular.

In 1899, Berliner set up a factory in Montreal. He would eventually open a recording studio to enable Canadians to record their own music.

What:

Berliner's flat disc system was cheaper and easier to store than Edison's cylinder recording system. Vicious legal and advertising battles broke out over the proprietorship of early recording systems.

Where:

The Berliner Gramophone Company of Canada was incorporated in 1904, because Canadian patent laws only protected an inventor if he brought his product into production inside Canada.

When:

The oldest surviving recording made in Canada dates from 1888, when Governor-General Lord Stanley used an Edison recording machine to send a message to the president of the United States.

Who:

Emile Berliner and his son Herbert introduced a "His Master's Voice" series of Canadian recordings in both English and French. In 1924 intense competition saw the Berliner company taken over by the American Victor Company.

MP-0000.25.913
© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
Tractor hauling logs, SK, about 1915
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1915, 20th century
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.25.913
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Canada's crucial ability to be an exporter of primary resources had traditionally been driven by muscle power - men with broad axes in the forests and sturdy horses in the field. Now internal combustion engines aided the process, pushing productivity and exports upwards. On the farm, gasoline and kerosene-powered tractors bearing names like Fordson, Waterloo Boy and Bates Steel Mule appeared. Tractors cost between $800 and $1,200 in the 1910s, roughly the price of five to seven horses. But the tractor could only do the work of four horses and could not be fed locally grown oats. Consequently tractors were slow to appear. By 1921 there were 47,455 of them in Canada, 38,485 of them on the prairies. Mechanization made "agribusiness" possible.

Internal combustion soon made an appearance in the woods and on the wharf. Tractors or caterpillar tractors replaced horses dragging logs from the forest; crude gas chain saws began to replace axes and saws. Fishing boats began to be powered by outboard motors.

What:

Mechanization extended beyond simple motive power. Canadian implement makers like Massey-Harris in Ontario began supplying farmers with binders and thrashers which drew their power from the tractor that towed them. Hardened steel made such implements more durable and reliable.

Where:

Mechanization was national in scope but most apparent on the prairies: larger farms, more debt and a heightened reliance on one-crop farming were often the tractor's most direct impact.

When:

Mechanization extended from grain-elevator machinery to wood chippers at the pulp mill, propelling Canada's emergence in the years 1896-1919 as one of the world's great agricultural and pulp and paper producers.

Who:

The demand for mechanized power sponsored the growth of big manufacturing in central Canada. Ontario-based Massey-Harris, created by merger in 1891, was on the cutting edge of agricultural implement and tractor design. Its products were exported throughout the Empire.

MP-1979.137.5001
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Upper Wyndham Street, Guelph, ON, 1905
Nerlich & Company
1905, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Gelatin silver process
7 x 15 cm
MP-1979.137.5001
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Canadian cities became electrified. City lighting, home appliances and industrial processes were plugged into grids that carried electricity from hydroelectric sites like Niagara and Shawinigan or from thermal generating plants. Electric streetcars changed city habits and geography. Nineteenth-century cities had been walking cities in which citizens lived near where they worked. Streetcars allowed "streetcar suburbs" to develop, thereby segregating cities by class. By 1911, 83.9% of Toronto's labour force took a daily return streetcar ride.

Public utilities like streetcars and power distribution required heavy capital expenditure. Promoters argued that they were "natural monopolies" requiring long-term, monopoly privileges. Capitalists like Toronto's William Mackenzie grew rich on streetcar fare boxes. Opponents argued that civic ownership was preferable; in 1921 the Toronto Transit Commission was born to assert public streetcar ownership.

What:

The streetcar was a self-contained passenger coach that drew electricity from overhead wires or underground conduits. Canadian companies like the Ottawa Car Company built streetcars designed for Canadian conditions until the 1940s.

Where:

The first electric streetcar system in Canada opened in Windsor, Ontario in 1886, followed by Vancouver in 1890 , Winnipeg in 1891 and Toronto and Montreal in 1892. By 1914, forty-eight Canadian cities had streetcar systems.

When:

Streetcars provoked Canadians to debate the virtues of private enterprise and public ownership. The Guelph Street Railway, founded by brewer George Sleeman (1841-1926) in 1895, was taken over by the city in 1905 as a "people's" company.

Who:

Toronto streetcar promoter William Mackenzie (1849-1923) grew rich on streetcar profits, won a knighthood and eventually exported Canadian streetcar expertise to Spain and Latin America.

1993-437
This artefact belongs to : © Musée acadien of the Université de Moncton
Box of primer caps, about 1919
Gift of Joseph (Joe) Allain
1993-437
This artefact belongs to : © Musée acadien of the Université de Moncton

Keys to History:

After almost two decades of uninterrupted growth, the Canadian economy slumped into depression in 1913. When global demand for Canadian commodities dropped, industrial demand at home soon slackened. Unemployment rose and investment slowed. War in 1914 therefore came as an economic tonic. The expectation that the war would be short was quickly displaced by the reality of "total war" - a war that would depend as much on the factory worker as the soldier.

From 1914 to 1918 Canadian factories converted their metal and chemical-making capacity to the production of shells, explosives and armaments. At first private enterprise was expected to meet the challenge, but scandals over poor quality and alleged profiteering led to the creation in 1915 of the Imperial Munitions Board (IMB) to oversee all munitions production. By 1920 it would have spent $1,250 million on 65 million shells, 49 million cartridge cases, 88 ships, 2,900 aircraft and a mountain of explosives.

What:

A primer cap was a small explosive charge used to trigger a larger explosion in a shell or bomb.

Where:

A high percentage of Canadian munitions-making was undertaken in central Canada. Canadian Industries Limited was a Montreal-based chemicals conglomerate jointly owned by DuPont in the United States and the British Imperial Chemicals Ltd. During the war it operated as Canadian Explosives Limited.

When:

In 1915 the Imperial Munitions Board was accepted as a necessary government incursion into the marketplace that would end when the war did. It would control profits and ensure efficiency. The IMB pioneered new Canadian products; its "national factories" built Canada's first mass-produced aircraft - Curtis JN-4 "Jennies."

Who:

Toronto pork packer Joseph Flavelle (1858-1939) was appointed to head the IMB. Despite unproved charges that he was a profiteer, Flavelle ensured that Canadian munitions flowed to the troops in Europe. Flavelle was knighted in 1917; his critics dubbed him "his lardship."

MP-0000.2082.6
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Women at tables, International Manufacturing Co., Montreal, QC, 1914-8
Black & Bennett
1914-1918, 20th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on linen - Gelatin silver process
17 x 24 cm
From Anglin-Norcross Limited
MP-0000.2082.6
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

By the end of 1918 over half a million Canadians, mostly men, were in military uniform, a staggering achievement for a nation of 8.1 million. Every soldier, however, represented one less factory worker. By 1915 the war economy's demand for labour obliged employers to recruit women into jobs traditionally occupied by men. Women quickly displaced men in clerical positions in offices and banks, and took over in other service jobs such as streetcar conductors. They were then brought into manufacturing jobs. By 1917 over 35,000 women were working in central Canadian munitions plants.

Munitions work paid well above the national average in manufacturing, but women earned only 50-83% of what men in the same jobs received. Hours were long - 13-14 hour days. Women were seen as the nation's reserve army of labour, destined to return home when the war ended.

What:

Women were generally employed in "busy hands" jobs that involved speed and dexterity, such as putting fuses into shells or putting primer caps into cartridges.

Where:

While women in the western provinces took on farm jobs, most paid female employment in the war was in central Canada. Most workers were young single women. In Ontario, the Young Women's Christian Association arranged chaperoning of working "girls," opening canteens and hostels for them.

When:

Women's appearance in non-traditional wartime occupations coincided with first-wave feminism, the movement of women out of the domestic realm into the workaday world. If women could make munitions, they should also be able to vote. Ontario became the fifth province to accord this right in 1917.

Who:

Many Canadian women participated in an informal wartime economy through such organizations as the Red Cross and the War Council of Women, by knitting clothing and preparing bandages and food parcels for the "boys at the front." A few women donned uniforms as nurses and ambulance drivers.

VIEW-17112
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Loading flour on Belgian relief ship, Montreal, QC, 1917
Wm. Notman & Son
1917, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-17112
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

War in Europe created an export bonanza for Canada. The country's new-found industrial capacity had been hard hit by the 1913 downturn in the economy, but war quickly revitalized demand for manufactured goods. Munitions production led the way, but other manufactured goods ranging from clothing to processed food were soon being shipped to our allies in Europe. Before 1913 only 7% of Canada's manufactured goods were sold abroad; between 1916 and 1918, a period in which the country's exports grew dramatically, that figure rose to 40% of our exports. Most of this trade was negotiated on a government-to-government basis, but some of it took the form of humanitarian aid freely given by Canadian citizens. The Belgian Relief Fund typified this patriotic fervour: "poor little Belgium" had to be fed. Such exports alter the traditional notion that military manpower constituted Canada's primary contribution to World War I; the steady flow of exports suggests another, less visible wartime sacrifice.

What:

This freighter, loading flour in Canada's busiest port, was clearly marked as bearing Belgian Relief so that German U-boats would recognize its humanitarian purpose.

Where:

Canada's largest export market continued to be the United Kingdom. In 1916, $452 million of the country's overall exports of $779 million exports went to the UK; the United States would overtake the UK as Canada's leading trade partner in the 1920s.

When:

Canada's ability to export flour was reinforced in the late nineteenth-century by the emergence of modern milling techniques that were mastered by Montreal-based companies like Ogilvie Flour.

Who:

Contributions to the Belgian Relief Fund were made - in cash and goods - by provincial governments, companies, schoolchildren, women's groups and farmers.

VIEW-4502
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Company workmen's house, Laurentide Pulp Mills, Grand-Mère, QC, about 1908
Wm. Notman & Son
About 1908, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-4502
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The need to bring industry where the resources and energy were sited obliged industrialists to create towns that were often far from urban centres where labour was plentiful. In order to attract and retain workers, companies built communities to house their workers and provide them with the necessities of life - schools, hospitals, stores, hockey rinks, etc. Such paternalism had the added advantage of making the worker beholden to his employer and thereby diminishing the power of unions to organize the labour force.

The Laurentide Company, organized in 1877, was Canada's largest maker of newsprint in the years 1898-1919. Located in Quebec's St. Maurice River Valley, Laurentide built a "company town" to accommodate its workers. Nearby Shawinigan was a similar company town.

What:

The architecture of company towns projected the corporate hierarchy of the town's employer. Row houses accommodated wage labourers, while foremen and managers were given larger single homes.

Where:

Company towns sprouted across Canada. Almost always they were linked to primary resource extraction and processing. Iroquois Falls (Ontario), Noranda (Quebec), Powell River ( British Columbia) and Corner Brook (Newfoundland) were all born as company towns.

When:

Company towns are a classic symptom of a nation that grows by developing a succession of primary staples. In the era of the fur trade, settlements like Fort Churchill sprang up. In the nuclear age Chalk River, Ontario would be built as a company town to support Canada's nascent atomic energy industry. The map of Canada is dotted with extinct company towns.

Who:

Sociologists argue that the people of a company town are subject to unusual pressures: isolation, dependence on one economic staple and the uniformity created by everyone working for a single employer.

VIEW-21089
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Office, Montreal, QC, 1924
Wm. Notman & Son
1924, 20th century
Silver salts on film - Gelatin silver process
19 x 24 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
VIEW-21089
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The dramatic expansion in the scope and scale of Canadian industry in the Laurier Boom years required coordination never before seen in the Canadian economy. Paperwork, planning and analysis became crucial aspects of managing an enterprise. The modern office, staffed with managers and clerks who coordinated and recorded the productive activity of the enterprise, was born in the years after 1900. Company offices oversaw the purchase of material, the production process, the marketing of the product and the personnel of the company. They determined production schedules, pay rates and profits. They equipped themselves with new machines - adding machines, addressographs, typewriters - to facilitate this work. The growth of clerical work was dramatic. In 1901-1911 Canada's population grew by 34.2%, but the clerical profession grew by 80.9% to 103,543.

What:

Company offices were on the cutting edge of new technology. The typewriter, invented in the nineteenth century, was perfected early in the twentieth. Ten-finger typing was now practiced on typewriters that had space bars, QWERTY keyboards and continuous ribbons. Typing was considered a female skill; typing pools were created in offices to provide a centralized service.

Where:

The clerical revolution in Canada drew heavily on American experience and office technology. "Efficiency experts" and business consultants advised companies on how to organize their offices.

When:

In 1910 Bell Telephone in Montreal created a departmental structure for its head office - accounting, manpower, purchasing, etc. By 1921 41.8% of Canadian clerks were women. The business office was considered ideally suited to women's skills - neatness, order and repetition were seen as female strengths. The office was also a sheltered environment in which "girls" could join the workaday world.

Who:

Office workers became a national class. Once trained and classified as a typist or ledger keeper, a clerical worker could move about the country and be quickly fitted into the routines of any office.

N-0000.25.261
© McCord Museum
Photograph, glass lantern slide
100 Ton testing machine, Macdonald Science Building, McGill University, Montreal, QC, about 1895
Wm. Notman & Son
About 1895, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 8 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
N-0000.25.261
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Canada's industrial boom in the years 1896-1919 was part of the second Industrial Revolution, a powerful meeting of economic needs and scientific knowledge. Chemistry and the physical sciences were applied to new industrial processes like aluminum smelting and hydro-electricity. Scientific testing of new materials and machinery became a crucial industrial prerequisite. Engineers ceased to be empirical tinkerers and became professionals schooled in scientific process. In 1887 the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers was created. On average over the years down to 1922, 66% of its members worked for private enterprise. Canadian universities responded by creating engineering faculties. Laboratories in these schools tested the strength of new materials. The term "applied engineering" was used to describe the art of modern engineering.

What:

The invention of mass-produced concrete coincided with the massive expansion of urban-industrial Canada. Concrete allowed the building of our first automobile highways, massive hydro-electric dams and multi-floor factories and skyscrapers.

Where:

McGill University in Montreal had been teaching engineers since the 1850s but did not award the degree of Bachelor of Science until 1889, through its Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying. Montreal tobacco tycoon William Macdonald (1831-1917) funded the construction of a dedicated building for engineering instruction and research in 1893.

When:

In the nineteenth century, the making of cement had been greatly improved. The addition of new ingredients like gypsum and continuous heat treatment in rotary kilns had made concrete stronger and cheaper. Iron rods were embedded in poured concrete to allow it to sustain bridges and skyscrapers.

Who:

In 1909 a merger orchestrated by financier Max Aitken (1879-1964) created the Canada Cement Company in Montreal. The huge company was able to profit by the economies of scale that continuously operating rotary kilns gave big concrete makers.

MP-0000.840.11
© McCord Museum
Print
School of Higher Studies, Viger Square, Montreal, QC, about 1910
1906-1914, 20th century
Coloured ink on paper mounted on card - Photolithography
8 x 13 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
MP-0000.840.11
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Nineteenth-century business relied on instinct and "on-the-job" training. The rise of large-scale, capital- and labour-intensive enterprise obliged business to think more about the skills of managing time and money. Business recognized the necessity of standard benchmarks of competence for the job. Workers were expected to come to their jobs with predetermined skills, and managers were expected to be able to allocate capital and labour according to "scientific" standards. Business became a profession and business education became its key of entry.

Universities at first resisted the idea of training businessmen; business was a "trade" not an intellectual pursuit. Inspired by American examples (Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, 1881, and Harvard Business School, 1908), Canadian universities began offering the Bachelor of Commerce degree after World War I. Queen's University awarded the first B.Comm in 1919, and McGill, Toronto and Western soon followed. In Quebec, polytechnic schools were opened to train engineers and the School of Higher Studies, founded in 1907 in Montreal with government funding, opened its doors to aspiring young businessmen.

What:

As it grew in sophistication, business began to attract theorists. The American engineer Frederick W. Taylor (1856-1915) won popularity by suggesting that the worker could be "scientifically" managed - every one of his actions measurable and the outcome predictable.

Where:

Business education spread across the nation. Private "business colleges," provincial trade schools and university degrees in commerce offered a wide range of options to those aspiring to qualify for a career in business. Periodicals - like the Montreal Journal of Commerce - spread the culture of modern business.

When:

In 1907 the Quebec government applied money to polytechnic schools and the School of Higher Studies in the hope of providing "our manufacturers with educated producers, highly skilled overseers, experienced foremen and elite workers."

Who:

Sociologists suggest that modern industrial societies are anchored by credentials. The years 1896-1919 saw Canadians start to attach such credentials to their names - B. Comm, C.A., P. Eng., etc. Corporations created "manpower" managers to sort qualified employees into appropriate jobs. Professional groups organized themselves into coherent bodies (e.g. the Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants, 1902).

m996x.2.512.1-2
© McCord Museum
Candy box
1920-1950, 20th century
6 x 22.2 x 12.8 cm
m996x.2.512.1-2
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Canada's shift to an urban-industrial society in the early-twentieth century elevated consumer consumption to an position of crucial economic importance. The American economic theorist Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) suggested that "conspicuous consumption" - the desire to consume things for the pleasure and social prestige they brought - had become the prime determinant of a modern economy. Branding and advertising products was the key to teaching consumers to consume. Luxury goods - goods beyond the necessities of life - were only purchased at the buyer's discretion. Consumer loyalty had to be cultivated.

Take, for instance, candy. By 1919 Canada was producing 245,861 kilograms of candy. Canadian manufacturers found innovative ways to promote candy sales. The Ganong family of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, perfected the wrapped candy bar in the late 1870s and went on to build a family business that gave the consumer a sweet, hygienic snack. In 1913 Frank O'Connor (1885-1939) opened a candy shop on Toronto's Yonge Street and branded his product "Laura Secord Candies." He styled his candies as "Old-Time Home-Made" and called his chocolate factories "studios." Early advertising agencies, like McKim Advertising in Montreal, helped businessmen plant the reputation of their product in the consumer's mind.

What:

By 1920 Laura Secord Candies had "studios" - the name was meant to diminish any sense that his candy was mass-produced - in Toronto and Montreal. Retail shops, where the staff wore crisp white uniforms, soon dispensed the candy across the nation.

Where:

The cities were the key market for confections. In 1923 Andre Vachon and his wife Rose-Anna Giroux began producing sweet snack cakes near Quebec City and selling them door to door under the brand name "Jos. Louis."

When:

Laura Secord's brand image coincided with stirrings of Canadian nationalism during and after World War I. Candy boxes were decorated with patriotic sketches from the War of 1812, when Laura Secord warned of invading Yankees and General Brock defeated them at Queenston Heights.

Who:

Anson McKim (1855-1917) pioneered Canadian advertising by demonstrating the connection between newspaper advertising and brand consumption and loyalty. By 1911 the McKim Advertising Agency in Montreal had 150 corporate clients and soon opened offices in Boston, New York and London. In 1915 McKim helped create the Canadian Association of Advertising Agencies.

Conclusion:

Although the return to peace in 1918 found Canada a fully fledged industrial nation, gaps remained. Despite being a nation that traded internationally, Canada could not build its own ocean-going ships. But it could make pots from its own aluminum, skyscrapers from its own steel and even build aircraft suited to the country's northern frontier. And Canada had its own businessmen, some prospering, some failing and others still dreaming of becoming Lord Beaverbrook.

But 1919 exposed the vulnerable side of Canada's new industrialism. World markets slumped and the country's high tariffs could not prop up internal demand. Unemployment stalked the land well into the "roaring Twenties." Labour strife beset the Cape Breton steel industry. Overcapacity plagued central Canadian pulp and paper making. The regional disparities of the nation's industrial base became apparent. East and west complained that central Canada controlled the nation's industrial pulse.

The state could do little to alleviate the downturn. Canada lacked effective regulation of competition or stock markets. The unemployed were left to fend for themselves. Businesses failed and Ottawa tightened its belt. In short, Canada was discovering that industrialization could bring both bounty and agony to the land.

Bibliography

Ames, Herbert B., The City below the Hill, University of Toronto Press reprint: Toronto, 1972

Ball, Norman, Building Canada: A History of Public Works, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1988

Beaulieu, Andre, Anson McKim entry, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. XIV, University of Toronto Press, 1998

Bliss, Michael, "Canadianizing American business: the roots of the branch plant," in Closing the 49th Parallel: The Americanization of Canada, Ian Lumsden, ed., University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1970

Bliss, Michael, Northern Enterprise: Five Centuries of Canadian Business, McClelland & Stewart: Toronto, 1987

Cook, R. & R. C. Brown, Canada 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed, McClelland & Stewart, 1974

Chandler, Alfred D., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business, Belnap Press: Cambridge, Mass., 1977

"Electricity and Industrial Development in Central Canada," Plate #12, Historical Atlas of Canada, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1990

"Financial Institutions," Plate # 9, The Historical Atlas of Canada, vol. III, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1990

"The Grain-Handling System," Plate # 19, Historical Atlas of Canada, vol. III, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1990

Grant, Gail Cuthbert, "The Transformation of Women's Work in the Quebec Cotton Industry, 1920-50," in Bryan Palmer, ed., The Character of Class Struggle: Essays in Canadian Working Class History, McClelland & Stewart: Toronto, 1986

"The Great War," Plate #26, Historical Atlas of Canada, vol. III, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1990

Heron, Craig , Working in Steel: the Early Years in Canada, 1883-1935, McClelland and Stewart: Toronto, 1991

Leacock, Stephen, Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich, McClelland and Stewart reprint: Toronto, 1969

Linteau, P.A., Rene Durocher & J.C. Robert, Quebec: A History 1867-1929, Lorimer: Toronto, 1983

Lowe, Graham, Women in the Administrative Revolution: the Feminization of Clerical Work, Polity Press: Cambridge, 1987

Lucas, Rex, Minetown, Milltown, Railtown: Life in Canadian Communities of Single Industry, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1971

MacKay, Donald, The Square Mile: Merchant Princes of Montreal, Douglas and McIntyre:Vancouver, 1987

Marchildon, Gregory, Profits and Politics: Beaverbrook and the Gilded Age of Canadian Finance, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1996

Marshall, Herbert, Frank Southard Jr. & Kenneth Taylor, Canadian-American Industry, Toronto: Carleton Library reprint, McClelland and Stewart, 1976

McDowall, Duncan, Quick to the Frontier: Canada's Royal Bank, McClelland & Stewart: Toronto, 1993 (French version: Les editions de l'homme: Montreal, 1993)

McDowall, Duncan, Steel at the Sault: Francis H. Clergue, Sir James Dunn and the Algoma Steel Corporation, 1901 1956. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1984

McNally, Larry, "Roads, Streets, and Highways," in Norman Ball, Building Canada: A History of Public Works, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1988

Millard, J. Rodney, The Master Spirit of the Age: Canadian Engineers and the Politics of Professionalism, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1988

Millard, J. Rodney, The Master Spirit of the Age: Canadian Engineers and the Politics of Professionalism 1887-1922, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1987

Morgan, Henry, Canadian Men and Women of Their Time, Morgan: Toronto, 1912 edition. (An early Who's Who-style insight into the lives of Canadian leaders)

National Library of Canada, "A Brief History of Recorded Sound in Canada".

Norrie, Kenneth & Douglas Owram, A History of the Canadian Economy, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Canada: Toronto, 1991

"Port Development in Halifax," Plate #25, Historical Atlas of Canada, vol. III, University of Toronto Press; Toronto, 1990

Prentice, Alison et al, Canadian Women: A History, Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich: Toronto, 1988

"Resource Development on the Shield," Plate #16, Historical Atlas of Canada, vol. III, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1990

Roby, Yves, Les Quebecois et les investissements Americains 1918-1929, Les Presses de l'Universite Laval: Quebec, 1976

Rouillard, Jacques, Les travailleurs du coton au Quebec 1900-1915, Les Presses de l'Universite du Quebec: Montreal, 1974

Santinck, Joy L., Timothy Eaton and the Rise of his Department Store, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1990

Sime, Jesse, "Munitions!" in Sister Woman, Tecumseh Press: Ottawa, 1992

Sotiron, Minko, From Politics to Profit: The Commercialization of Canadian Daily Newspapers, 1890-1920, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1997

Storck, John & Walter Darwin Teague, A History of Milling: Flour for Man's Bread, University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 1952

Taylor, Graham D. & Peter A. Baskerville, A Concise History of Business in Canada, Oxford University Press: Toronto, 1994

Thompson, John Herd, The Harvests of War: The Prairie West, 1914-1918, McClelland & Stewart: Toronto, 1978

Thornton, Harrison John, The History of the Quaker Oats Company, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1933

Traves, Tom, "The Development of the Ontario Automobile Industry to 1939," in Ian Drummond, Progress without Planning: The Economic History of Ontario, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1987

Wilson, Barbara, Ontario and the First World War 1914-1918: A Collection of Documents, University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1977


© Musée McCord Museum