You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

Progress without Planning

Progress without Planning: The Economic History of Toronto from Confederation to the Second World War

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 526
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Progress without Planning
    Book Description:

    Ian Drummond presents a comprehensive review of the explosive growth of Ontario's economy from 1867 to 1939.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5395-5
    Subjects: Economics, Business, Sociology, History
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. The Ontario Historical Studies Series
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. General Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Appendix C: Tables
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  7. Part One: Overview
    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-18)

      The new dominion of 1867 was a very different country from the nation that we know. It contained only Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the southern portions of present-day Ontario and Quebec. There was no road or rail connection between central Canada and the Maritimes, or between Canada and the more westerly parts of British North America. The dominant metropolis was Montreal, with Toronto very much in second place. There were few cities, and not many large towns. The population was mostly rural and very largely agricultural; although manufacturing was neither new nor feeble, it concerned itself largely with the...

    • 2 What People Did
      (pp. 19-26)

      The last chapter outlined a general approach to the structural transformation though which the Ontario economy passed after Confederation. Ideally the observer would like to follow this transformation by tracing the changing contributions and weights of the several industries -agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and the various service activities, such as transportation, wholesale and retail trade, finance, and government and professional service. In later chapters a qualitative picture of these changes will be built up; general information on the composition of output, however, is unavailable. Fortunately the structural transformation can be described and summarized in another way - by examining the changing...

  8. Part Two: The Land and the New Frontiers
    • 3 Agriculture, 1867–1941
      (pp. 29-51)

      In 1941, as in 1867, agriculture was Ontario’s most important industry. Furthermore, although outstripped by mining and by urban manufacturing and service activities, its record was one of expansion. In 1941 there were more farms and more farmers than in 1871; not only were the farmers more numerous, but they were much more heavily capitalized, far more mechanized, and far better supplied with ancillary power. Farm life, while still not fully penetrated by the devices of the twentieth-century consumer society, had become far more comfortable and convenient: by 1941 the telephone and the radio were widespread, and the dissemination of...

    • 4 Ontario’s Mining Industry, 1870–1940
      (pp. 52-76)

      Ontario’s rich endowment of mineral deposits made possible an enormous expansion in the output of metallic minerals from 1870 to 1940. Indeed, it was during this period that Ontario established its position as Canada’s major metals-producing province.¹ These minerals played an important role in the northward spread of organized economic activity in the province, and they also provided an important export base for regional development.

      This chapter offers a narrative account of developments in the mining industry, concentrating on the three principal non-ferrous metals that were exploited – nickel, which, with copper and the platinum group of metals, is identified with...

    • 5 The North and the North-West: Forestry and Agriculture
      (pp. 77-90)

      In northern Ontario the rocky Canadian Shield is the predominant geographical feature, the main exception being the lowland of Palaeozoic rocks south and west of Hudson Bay and James Bay. The drainage pattern of the region is generally northward towards James Bay, the major exceptions being the Ottawa Valley and the area of Ontario west of Thunder Bay. Except for the James Bay lowlands, northern Ontario is forested, changing from mixed forest in the south and Ottawa Valley to primarily coniferous forest and eventually, in the north, to tundra.

      The development of northern Ontario has been based on the exploitation...

    • 6 The Oil and Gas Industry
      (pp. 91-100)

      Serious oil production in Ontario began in 1858, when the first drilled well in the world was sunk in south-western Ontario. The industry, like that of near-by Pennsylvania, was characterized at first by a multiplicity of small-scale producers and refiners, but refining and distribution eventually became concentrated and, in large part, foreign owned. Similarly, when natural gas production began there was a great deal of small-scale production, but distribution networks from the major fields to the principal markets both in Ontario and abroad were ‘natural monopolies’ - that is, the volume of business would support one distribution line but not...

  9. Part Three: The Industrial Revolution in Ontario
    • 7 Ontario’s Industrial Revolution, 1867–1914
      (pp. 103-133)

      It was suggested in chapter 1 that soon after Confederation Ontario was poised and ready for rapid industrial development. This chapter and the balance of part 3 trace that development. Because the terrain has yet to be fully explored by scholars, some of the account has to be purely descriptive - a narrative account of what happened. Nevertheless, the general contours of the industrialization can certainly be explained, partly along the lines set out in chapter 1 and partly by a glance at the forces of demand, technical change, and tariff-protection that were operating not only between 1871 and 1914...

    • 8 The Electrification of Ontario
      (pp. 134-147)

      In the industrial transformation o f the province, the electrical industries played an enormously important part, especially in the 1890s and thereafter. This major and massive technological change rested upon a group of crucial inventions that were all made elsewhere, in the 1870s and 1880s, but they were quickly domesticated in the province.

      In 1870 Ontario industry was propelled very largely by water power. Grist-mills, saw-mills, fulling-mills, textile-mills, and foundry installations all depended on falling water to turn wheels, drive hammers, and pump air through bellows. Power sites were widely distributed through the settled areas of the province, and since...

    • 9 Manufacturing, 1914–41
      (pp. 148-165)

      By 1914 the heroic days of Ontario’s manufacturing development had already occurred. The Great Boom had ended in 1913, and a cyclical downturn had begun. Not merely had the province’s economic balance shifted from countryside to town and from agriculture to industry; the province’s cities and towns now possessed a wide range of sophisticated industries, oriented both to consumers and to producers and exploiting a substantial part of the remarkable technological progress that had been so marked a feature of development in the United States and western Europe between the mid-1880s and the outbreak of war. This is not to...

    • 10 The Development of Industrial Cities
      (pp. 166-184)

      Centred as it was on the development of manufacturing and service industries, the economic growth of Ontario naturally produced a considerable urbanization as well. The shaping of the cities was very largely a matter for the private enterpris e of land-owner and speculative subdivider and builder. Government made no serious effort to shape urban growth. Water, sanitary sewers, and pavements were provided, but often rather late in the day. Building codes and inspections gradually came to ensure certain minimum standards of physical soundness. Largely under the influence of anti-fre regulations, brick construction gradually and incompletely displaced frame. In Ottawa, a...

    • 11 The Iron and Steel Industry
      (pp. 185-207)

      It is convenient to divide the early history of Ontario’s primary iron industry into three phases. In the first phase, which ended only in the 1890s, demand grew but there was no effective supply response. In the second phase, which lasted from the early 1890s until World War One, demand continued to grow, while there was considerable investment in productive capacity; the expansion was paralleled and perhaps spurred by changes in transportation costs and by increasingly supportive public policy. In the third phase, which lasted from 1913 to 1939, demand stagnated and its composition changed; the number of firms in...

    • 12 The Development of the Ontario Automobile Industry to 1939
      (pp. 208-223)

      In chapters 7 and 8 the automobile industry was seen to be of great importance for Ontario’s economic development both before and after 1914. Chapters 16, 17, and 19 examine its significance for the province’s transport system, its retail trading network, and its fiscal arrangements. The present chapter treats the industry itself, though not the full social effect of the automobile in the ‘age of auto-industrialization,’¹ nor all its interconnections with the other sectors of the provincial economy. A definitive answer to the question of interconnection cannot be provided without the use of an ‘input-output’ table - a statistical device...

    • 13 Labour and Capital
      (pp. 224-231)

      Although the process of industrialization is worth studying for its own sake, there is little reason to rejoice in it or to celebrate it unless it can be shown to have helped improve the general conditions of life, at least in the long run. Most economists would deduce that this is likely to be the case: they would say that the process of industrialization is bound to be accompanied by an improvement in technological knowledge, and by an increase in capital per worker, so that the output per worker is bound to rise, and that the forces of competition will...

    • 14 Protecting the Workers
      (pp. 232-244)

      The new industries and the growing cities of the late nineteenth century could be unpleasant places to work. Wages and working conditions were often unsatisfactory, and hours were generally long. In the 1880s two dominion royal commissions¹ traced the distressing results; more recently, Canadian social historians have begun to study the various dimensions of working-class misery and discontent.² But just as the economy was industrializing, governments and workers were working jointly and separately to improve the conditions among the province’s wage-earners. Governments were acting, through regulation and legislation, while the workers were acting also, through unionization in its many forms....

  10. Part Four: Transportation, Communication, Trade, and Finance
    • 15 The Older Means of Transport and Communication: Rail, Water, and the Early Electric Media
      (pp. 247-263)

      Transport and communications were fundamental to the economic transformation that has been traced in earlier chapters. Before 1914 development centred on the railways and on the Great Lakes-St Lawrence system of waterways, together with the canals that were meant to improve that system. The electric media - the telegraph and the telephone - also made contributions to economic development, chiefly because they transmitted information and instructions speedily and cheaply.

      At Confederation, and for some time after, there were three main patterns in the movement of commodities through and within Ontario. The Grand Trunk Railway provided an east-west axis through the...

    • 16 Roads, Airways, and Airwaves: Changing Modes of Communication in the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 264-273)

      In the twentieth century three quite novel means of communication emerged - the modern paved highway, the airplane, and the radio wave. In earlier chapters it was suggested that these new technologies had implications for industrial development, not only before 1914 but in the 1920s and thereafter. Roads and radio also changed the texture of rural life. Roads and airplanes, furthermore, affected the pace and character of new development, especially in Ontario’s northland. Yet because roads, airplanes, and radios did not much affect the costs of the several inputs in the more closely settled parts of the province, or change...

    • 17 The Revolution in Ontario Commerce
      (pp. 274-308)

      If the changes in industrial organization and production appear dramatic, the changes in commercial organization are equally so. It is generally said that in the larger towns, such as Toronto and Hamilton, in the late nineteenth century there was an evolution from ‘commerce’ to ‘industry and finance.’¹ As observed in chapter I, that sort of statement tells something about elites and rather less about economic structure. It ignores, most obviously, the rising elite of retail trade, as exemplified by Robert Simpson and Timothy Eaton. It also directs attention away from the fact that in the large cities, as elsewhere in...

    • 18 Financial Evolution
      (pp. 309-339)

      It was in the years before 1914 that Ontario’s financial structure evolved into a shape that late twentieth-century observers would recognize. Except for the credit unions, which were of little importance until long afterward, the financial system took on a form that the quite dramatic disturbances of the 1920s and 1930s would not disrupt. In this chapter, even more than in most other chapters, one cannot avoid reference to other parts of the world; indeed, because capital funds were so mobile both between regions and between countries, the idea of a ‘provincial financial market’ was and is an absurdity. To...

    • 19 The Provincial ‘Exchequer’
      (pp. 340-348)

      Since 1945 the provincial government has bulked very large in the economic life of the province. Before 1939, and especially before 1914, it did not do so. Provincial taxing and spending were certainly important, but they mattered far more to legislators and to the dispensers and receivers of patronage than in the day-to-day economic life of the province’s citizens. At Confederation Ontario acquired a relatively simple fiscal structure -no net debt, a rather narrow range of functions, a sizeable dominion subsidy, and the right to levy and collect licence fees, crown land revenues, and the very unpopular direct taxes. The...

  11. Statistical Appendixes
  12. Notes
    (pp. 439-486)
  13. Index
    (pp. 487-509)