Canada History

Canada History   timelines 
AskAHistorian    blog 




Prehistory | 2 Worlds Meet | New France | England Arrives | Clash of Empires | Revolution | British America | Reform/Revolt | Responsible Government | Confederation | Nation Building | Laurier | The Great War | Roaring 20's | Great Depression | WWII | The Peace | Cold War | Trudeau | PC's in Power | Modern Canada

Sunny Way | Settling the West  | The Klondike | New Railways | Industry | Workers & Farmers | Empire | Boer War | Canadian navy | 1911

While the west developed into the breadbasket of the British Empire, British Columbia and the Maritimes the fishery of the nation and the Yukon the precious metal bonanza, Ontario and Quebec began to industrialize. The high tariffs of the National Policy had protected and nurtured many industries and allowed them to mature and grow. Laurier had continued this tariff practice rather then seeking a reciprocity treaty with the US. Canadian industry constantly campaigned for the maintenance or increase of the tariffs, stressing the job loss that would occur if US companies were allow to undercut Canadian ones and then pillage the natural resources of the country with monopolistic practices.

The result of the protection of the Canadian industries was merges and more merges.  Canadian companies such as Maple Leaf, Massey Harris, Algoma Steel, Imperial Oil and Dominion Textiles became dominate and controlled their respective industries. It was the age of robber baron industrialists and the growth of the monopolies which could have delivered efficient cheap products while taking care of their employees and customers, instead, quite often pressured the workers for wage concessions, broke unions, charged unfairly high prices and eliminated any fair competition that tried to start up. The Canadian government found it to their benefit to allow business to operate this way and maintain their support with political donations.

Although the spectre of foreign companies was held at bay by the high tariffs and duties, the threat of foreign ownership was not. British and American businessmen were encouraged to invest in Canadian companies and develop the untold wealth of the nations natural resources. The foreign interests happily obliged and foreign investment poured into the country. Canadians and many politicians understood the dangers of unchecked capitalism and in 1889 laws were passed to break up monopolies and oligarchies but they proved ineffective. Another attempt was made in 1910 under Laurier with the passage of the Combines Investigation Act. This also was a fairly weak reaction to the power of big business.

Most large Canadian companies continued to weald their power well into the 1950's and it has only been in modern times when some have been successfully challenged with effective government action and freer competition with lower tariffs and eventually the North American Free Trade Agreement.