The Role of Primary Products Exports in the Development of Upper Canada in 19th Century

Upper Canada came into existence in December 1791 with its political entity envisaged by Great Britain. By 1890s, Upper Canada had become one of the largest Canadian provinces in terms of population and contributed much of the national economic output (Waltkins 2). The impact of agriculture in the 19th century was associated with economic development not only in Upper Canada but also across the globe (Easterbrook & Aitken 253). Agricultural practice and the export of primary products had a strong link with economic development based on the various process involved in the production, processing, and transportation of these staple products. Most of the people in Upper Canada were rural dwellers, 60% of whom practiced farming (Marr & Paterson 121). The increase of agricultural practices and the diversification of the market for the products farmed aggravated the rate of development and prosperity of the region. Since the agricultural products needed various forms of transport and industries, the need for establishing good infrastructure became a necessity. As a result, railway lines and canals were build to enable the transportation of wheat and other agricultural products to the US and European markets. The economic life of Upper Canada was largely driven by the export of certain staples or primary products that include timber, grain, fur, fish, minerals and many others (Darroch 427). The exports went to more advanced countries at that time like US, Britain, and France. According to the staples thesis, the dependency in exports increased and defined the rate of economic development in Upper Canada. As indicated in this paper, there are two fundamental dimensions, which aggravated the expansion of staples exports in Upper Canada. Clearly, Upper Canada had a large expanse of land, which necessitated the expansion of agriculture, while in the beginning of the 19th century; many immigrants who were hungry for land moved to the region and increased development (Waltkins 3). This topic is significant to explore, since it illuminates on how economic development is directly related to primary exports in the context of historical approaches of growth and development. The paper presents the various roles that the export of primary products contributed to the development of Upper Canada during the 19th century, while stipulating that the staples thesis indeed explain in some measure, these developments.