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V. Canada and the Repeal of the Corn Laws

  • D. L. Burn (a1)
Extract

Mid-nineteenth century Imperial trade policy has been discussed mainly from the standpoint of the constitutional historian. It is probably for this reason that the economic events with which the policy is connected have received very little critical analysis, and are usually expounded on lines laid down by contemporary partisans. The orthodox view that the Canadian corn-exporting trade was encouraged by the English grant of increased preference in 1843, and in the midst of consequent expansion was injured by the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, and later revived in some measure by the compensating repeal of the Navigation Laws in 1849, was the view normally held by Canadian writers in 1850. Having its origin in past politics, it characteristically exalts the influence of legislation. It is hoped to show in this article that when disturbing factors besides English tariff policy are taken into account—speculation, harvest fluctuation, and the policies of foreign states, to name no others—the interpretation which has proved so seductive is in the main a legend. A legend, it is true, whose acceptance in the late “forties” is not difficult to understand.

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page 252 note 1 Sessional Papers, Canada: C[olonial] O[ffice], 45/209, p. 581.

page 252 note 2 A belief rose into prominence in 1847 that the chief engagements for canal construction were entered into after the Act of 1843 (Montreal Gazette, Mar. 5th, 1847). Some modern writers accept this, e.g. Allin and Jones, Annexation, Preferential Trade and Reciprocity, p. 12—but the main expenditure was decided upon in 1841 (Kingston Herald, Sep. 7th, 1841).

page 253 note 1 Peel to Ripon, Oct. 30th, Nov. 23nd, 1841; Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 40464, ff. 48, 75.

page 253 note 2 Hansard, 3rd ser. LX. 156.

page 253 note 3 A[ccounts] and P[apers], 1843, LIII. 269.

page 253 note 4 No direct statistics exist. From figures not wholly satisfactory—the U.S. figures for total exports to B.N.A. Colonies in 1841 (U.S. Executive Documents) and provincial figures for duty-paying imports into New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (the months in the fiscal year are not the same)—it is calculated that the import of wheatstuffs into Canada in 1841 was 210,000 qrs., compared with a total export of 280,000. There were colonists who suggested that Canadian exports were almost wholly supplied by the States. (Quebec Gazette, Feb. 14th, 1846; refers to 1841; and see Gladstone in Hansard, LX. 1235.)

page 253 note 5 Duty scales, 1828 and 1842, are set out in Commerce and Industry, ed. W. Page, pp. 74 and 130. A comparison of duties at two prices will show the lessened value of preference.

page 254 note 1 Vide infra, p. 270, n. s.

page 254 note 2 A. and P. 1843, LIII. 271.

page 254 note 3 Nov. 22nd, 1842. B.M. Add. MSS. 40467, f. 30.

page 254 note 4 6 and 7 Vict. c. 29.

page 254 note 5 Montr. Gazette, Jan. 13th, 1844.

page 254 note 6 Montr. Gazette, Jan. 9th, 1845.

page 255 note 1 Montr. Gazette, Apr. 27th, June 27th, Aug. 20th, and Sep. 3rd, 1844, and passim.

page 255 note 2 Chronicle and Gazette, Kingston, June 3rd, 1841, Jan. 14th, 1842, etc.

page 255 note 3 Toronto Patriot, May 6th, 1842.

page 255 note 4 Montr. Gazette, Aug. 20th and 25th, 1842. Census, 1848, C.O. 47/164, for sales of Crown land.

page 255 note 5 Toronto Patriot, Jan. 6th, 1842. Chronicle and Gazette, Kingston, Nov. 27th, Dec. 1st, 1841, and passim.

page 255 note 6 Above, p. 253, n. 4.

page 255 note 7 Includes wheat flour. A. and P. 1864, LVIII. 169–70, and for U.S. exports, Appendix GG to Journals of Canad. Assembly, 1846.

page 255 note 8 Census of 1848. An examination of newspapers has not confirmed Shortt's view (Canada and her Provinces, v. 211) that 1843 saw much mill building, taking capital away from the purchase of U.S. produce. Bad speculation in 1842 and low price will explain the latter.

page 256 note 1 Kingston Herald, Sep. 19th and Dec. 19th, 1843; Montr. Gazette, Jan. 13th and Apr. 27th, 1844.

page 256 note 2 Montr. Gazette, Feb. 13th, 1845.

page 256 note 3 Montr. Gazette, Jan. 14th, 1844.

page 256 note 4 Prices Current, Toronto Patriot, and Toronto Gazette.

page 256 note 5 A. and P. 1843, LIII. 295.

page 256 note 6 Montr. Gazette June 27th, 1844.

page 257 note 1 Gladstone to Cathcart, Mar. 3rd, 1846. C.O. 45/224.

page 257 note 2 Montr. Courier, Oct. 17th, 1844.

page 257 note 3 E.g. Kingston Herald, Dec. 7th, 1841.

page 257 note 4 Petition of Free Trade Association, A. and P. 1848, xx. App. K; and other petitions.

page 257 note 5 Toronto Patriot, Mar. 6th, 1846; and below, p. 265.

page 258 note 1 The list in J. L. Ricardo, Anatomy of the Navigation Laws, p. 125.

page 258 note 2 For a full discussion of the laws, see “The Last Years of the Navigation Acts,” by Dr J. H. Clapham, E.H.R. xxv.

page 258 note 3 House of Lords’ Reports on Navigation Acts, 1848, xx, App. K, Petitions from Montreal.

page 258 note 4 Lords’ Reports on Nav. Acts, 1848, xx, App. K; and Montr. Weekly Pilot, July 28th, 1847.

page 259 note 1 Lords’ Report on Nav. Acts, 1848, xx; Memo. of Executive Council, May 8th, 1848.

page 259 note 2 Quebec Mercury, Feb. 6th, 1845.

page 259 note 3 A. and P. 1848, xx, as above.

page 259 note 4 Montr. Weekly Pilot, Sep. 18th, 1846.

page 259 note 5 Montr. Gazette, Sep. 11th, 1846, and Mar. 15th, 1847.

page 259 note 6 Montr. Weekly Pilot, Sep. 18th, 1846, and Nov. 8th, 1848.

page 260 note 1 Montr. Weekly Pilot, Sep. 18th, 1846, and Kingston Herald, Sep. 29th, 1846.

page 260 note 2 Montr. Courier, July 21st, 1847.

page 260 note 3 For freights the market reports of Montreal papers have been used.

page 260 note 4 Gladstone's Act referred to above, p. 253.

page 261 note 1 Congressional Globe, 1844–5, XIV. 66, 93, 270, 390.

page 261 note 2 Toronto Patriot, Apr. 24th and May 26th, 1846. And Blue Books of Statistics, Canada; C.O. 47/158–60. Imports of tea into Montreal and Quebec dropped in value from £66,000 in 1844 to £33,000 in 1846.

page 261 note 3 Blue Books of Statistics, Canada; C.O. 47/157–9.

page 261 note 4 Ann. Rep. of Clerk of Forestry, Ontario, 1899; Ont. Sess. Papers.

page 261 note 5 Quebec Mercury, Mar. 11th, 1847; letter quoted from Bytown Gazette.

page 261 note 6 A. and P. 1835, XIX, Q. 1780.

page 262 note 1 Montr. Weekly Pilot, Apr. 16th, 1847.

page 262 note 2 Ontario Report, p. 50; and Quebec Mercury, Mar. 11th, 1847.

page 262 note 3 Quebec Mercury, Dec. 9th, 1845.

page 262 note 4 Ont. Rep. p. 66.

page 262 note 5 Montr. Courier, Apr. 4th, 1846.

page 262 note 6 Export of 1846 was 607,479 tons.

page 262 note 7 Quebec Mercury, Mar. 11th, 1847.

page 262 note 8 Rep. of Forsyth and Bell; Montr. Courier, June 27th, 1846.

page 262 note 9 Quebec Gazette, June 26th, 1846.

page 262 note 10 Ont. Rep. p. 66.

page 263 note 1 Tooke, History of Prices, IV. 24–39.

page 263 note 2 Price currents of Montr, press.

page 263 note 3 Census for 1848; C.O. 47/164.

page 263 note 4 Census for 1848, and C.O. 47/162.

page 263 note 5 E.g. a “Canadian Steam Navigation Company” was started in 1847 to develop transport from Toronto to Montreal (Toronto Globe, Jan. 9th, 1847).

page 263 note 6 Montr. Brokers’ Circular, Mar. 5th, 1849; C.O. 45/236, App. Z.

page 263 note 7 C.O. 45/236, App. Z.

page 264 note 1 Freight on Aug. 13th was 6s.; Montr. Weekly Pilot, Aug. 13th. On Aug. 31st, 4s. 6d.

page 264 note 2 This can readily be seen from the press.

page 264 note 3 Congress Globe, 1844–5, xv. 86, 851.

page 264 note 4 Quebec Mercury, Apr. 20th, 1847.

page 264 note 5 Quebec Mercury, Dec. 19th, 1846.

page 264 note 6 Montr. Weekly Pilot, Jan. 8th, 1848; Toronto Gazette, Nov. 24th, 1849.

page 264 note 7 Blue Boohs of Statistics, Canada; C.O. 47/162–3.

page 265 note 1 Montr. Gazette, June 13th; Montr. Weekly Pilot, Apr. 7th and passim.

page 265 note 2 Montr. Gazette, June 6th.

page 265 note 3 Walrond, Letters and Journals of Lord Elgin, pp. 60, 70; and Sessional Papers, Canada; C.O. 45/236, App. C, Elgin to Grey, June 15th, 1848.

page 266 note 1 Price currents in Toronto Patriot and Toronto Globe. Both in 1848 and 1849 the prices quoted are more often over 4s. per bushel than in the three years before 1846.

page 266 note 2 Hansard, LXXXIX. 281.

page 266 note 3 Above, p. 264, n. 1.

page 266 note 4 Quoted Montr. Gazette, Sep. 14th, 1848.

page 266 note 5 New York Commer. Advertiser; Apr. 3rd, freight was 7s.; Aug. 7th, 3s. 6d.; Sep. 4th, 1s. 6d.

page 266 note 6 Montr. Gazette, Sep. 11th, 1848.

page 267 note 1 Quebec Gazette, June 14th and Sep. 12th, 1848; and for Bytown, Montr. Gazette, Sep. 14th, 1848.

page 267 note 2 Quebec Mercury, Dec. 16th, 1848.

page 267 note 3 E.g. Patterson, W. J., Trade and Commerce of Montreal for 1863, pp. 8, 12, etc.

page 268 note 1 Goodliffe and Smart's Report, Jan. 9th, 1851. (B.M. Cat. Price Currents.)

page 268 note 2 Goodliffe and Smart's Rep. June 10th and Nov. 11th, 1852.

page 268 note 3 Goodliffe and Smart's Rep. Jan. 8th, 1852; Willmer and Smith, European Times, Jan. 8th, 1853; Jan. 7th, 1854; Dec. 16th, 1853; and Tooke, op. cit. VI. 866.

page 268 note 4 Sources as before. W. H. Merritt, in appendix to Rep. on Public Works in 1851, gave freight at Montreal as 3s. 9d. and at New York, 1s. 3d. C.O. 45, 247, App. T.

page 268 note 5 N.Y. Comm. Advertiser, and Circular to Bankers, Mar. 4th, 1842.

page 269 note 1 Blue Books of Statistics, Canada; CO. 47/195 ff. Galt, Canada, 1849–1859, pp. 26 and 27.

page 269 note 2 London Customs Books of Entry and Blue Books of Statistics, Canada.

page 269 note 3 Goodliffe and Smart, Rep. Apr. 1st, 1852.

page 269 note 4 Assembly Journals, C.O. 45/253, p. 4.

page 270 note 1 Ont. Report, pp. 82–3.

page 270 note 2 A. and P. 1864, LVIII. 169–70, and U.S. Executive Documents.

page 270 note 3 E.g. Quebec Gazette, May 26th, 1847.

page 270 note 4 Montr. Gazette, Sep. 18th, 1849, and July 29th, 1852. The latter records rates of 9d. and 10d.

page 270 note 5 Memo, of Exec. Council, cited above, p. 259, n. 1; also C.O. 45/236, App. C, and 315, App. 2. The extra cost of the Erie route arose out of its length (300 miles of canal as compared with 70 on St Lawrence route) and its small section. The St Lawrence could take lake boats of 450 tons, which had to discharge on to barges for the Erie route.

page 271 note 1 Kingsford, W. L., The Canadian Canals, 1865, p. 121, etc.

page 271 note 2 Report of I. D. Andrews on the Trade and Commerce of the B.N.A. Colonies, p. 414; U.S. Senate Documents, 32nd Cong. Sess. 1, vol. XI, doc. 112.

page 271 note 3 Quebec Gazette, Nov. 30th, 1846.

page 271 note 4 Nova Scotian, Sep. 27th, 1848; Montr. Weekly Pilot, Sep. 1st, 1849, and N.S. Assembly Journals, C.O. 220/32, p. 653, and 220/34, App. p. 159. There was an export through U.S. to B.N.A. with advantage of intercolonial free trade.

page 271 note 5 Blue Books of Statistics, Canada, and after 1850 the series Trade and Navigation Statistics. Also Patterson, W. J., Trade and Comm. of Montr. 1863, p. 5.

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