Skip to main content

The Engine or the Caboose? Resource Industries and Twentieth-Century Canadian Economic Performance

  • Ian Keay (a1)

The Canadian economy, already wealthy, diverse, and relatively industrial at the dawn of the twentieth century, had not yet outgrown its reliance on resource-intensive production. Empirical evidence indicates that the exploitation of Canada's natural resource endowment made direct and indirect contributions to the size and efficiency of the twentieth-century domestic economy. I conclude that the concentration of capital and labor in resource industries did not constrain the rate of change of Canadian real GNP per capita between 1900 and 1999, and it appears to have had a substantial positive impact on the level of real GNP per capita.

Hide All
Aitken Hugh G. J.Discussion: The Role of Staples Industries in Canada's Economic Development.” This Journal 18, no. 4 (1958): 451–52.
Allen Robert C.The Peculiar Productivity History of American Blast Furnaces, 1840–1913.” This Journal 37, no. 3 (1977): 605–33.
Allen Robert C.Recent Developments in Production, Cost and Index Number Theory.” In Productivity in the Economies of Europe, edited by A. Fremdling and P. K. O'Brien, 9099. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1983.
Auty R.The Political Economy of Resource Driven Growth.” European Economic Review 45, no. 5 (2001): 839–46.
Bertram G.Economic Growth and Canadian Industry, 1870–1915: The Staple Model and the Take-Off Hypothesis.” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 29, no. 2 (1963): 162–84.
Boyce J., and H. Emery. “A Hotelling Explanation of the Curse of Natural Resources.” Unpublished manuscript, 2005.
Buckley Kenneth. “The Role of Staples Industries in Canada's Economic Development.” This Journal 18, no. 4 (1958): 439–50.
Cain Louis P., and Donald G. Paterson. “Biased Technological Change, Scale and Factor Substitution in American Industry, 1850–1919.” This Journal 46, no. 1 (1986): 153–64.
Chambers Edward J., and Donald F. Gordon. “Primary Products and Economic Growth: An Empirical Measurement.” Journal of Political Economy 74, no. 4 (1966): 315–32.
Copeland B.Services in the New Economy: Research Issues.” T.A.R.G.E.T. Working Paper No. 8, 2003.
Cranstone D. A History of Mining and Mineral Exploration in Canada and Outlook for the Future. Ottawa: Natural Resources Canada, 2002.
Davidson Russell, and James G. MacKinnon. Estimation and Inference in Econometrics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Dick Trevor J. O.Canadian Newsprint, 1913–1930: National Policies and the North American Economy.” This Journal 42, no. 3 (1982): 659–87.
Diewert W.Exact and Superlative Index Numbers.” Journal of Econometrics 4, no. 2 (1976): 115–45.
Di Matteo L.Fiscal Imbalance and Economic Development in Canadian History.” The American Review of Canadian Studies 29, no. 2 (1999): 287311.
Easterbrook W T.Recent Contributions to Economic History: Canada.” This Journal 19, no. 1 (1959): 76102.
Easterbrook W. T., and Hugh G. J. Aitken. Canadian Economic History. Toronto: Macmillan, 1956.
Fogel Robert William. “A Quantitative Approach to the Study of Railroads in American Economic Growth.” This Journal 22, no. 2 (1962): 163–97.
Fowke Vernon C. The National Policy and the Wheat Economy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
Gordon Robert J.Has the New Economy Rendered the Productivity Slowdown Obsolete?” Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.
Gordon Robert J.Does the New Economy Measure up to the Great Inventions of the Past?” Journal of Economic Perspectives 14, no. 4 (2000): 4974.
Gordon Robert J.Two Centuries of Economic Growth: Europe Chasing the American Frontier.” N.B.E.R. Working Paper No. 10662, 2004.
Green Alan, and Gordon Sparks. “Population Growth and the Dynamics of Canadian Development: A Multivariate Time Series Approach.” Explorations in Economic History 36, no. 1 (1999): 5671.
Greene William H. Econometric Analysis. New York: Macmillan, 1990.
Habakkuk H. J. American and British Technology in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1962.
Hanson E. J. Dynamic Decade. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1956.
Innis H. The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1930.
Innis H. The Cod Fisheries: The History of an International Economy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1940.
Inwood K., and J. Irwin. “Canadian Regional Commodity Income Differences at Confederation.” In Farm, Factory, and Fortune: New Studies in the Economic History of the Maritime Provinces, edited by K. Inwood, 149–70. Fredericton: Acadiensis Press, 1993.
James John A., and Jonathan S. Skinner. “The Resolution of the Labor Scarcity Paradox.” This Journal 45, no. 3 (1985): 513–40.
Jones E. L. Growth Recurring: Economic Change in World History. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
Judge G., W. Griffiths, R. Hill, H. Lutkepohl, and T.-C. Lee, The Theory and Practice of Econometrics, Second Edition. New York: Wiley, 1985.
Keay Ian. “Canadian Manufacturers' Relative Productivity Performance.” Canadian Journal of Economics 33, no. 4 (2000a): 1049–068.
Keay Ian. “Scapegoats or Responsive Entrepreneurs: Canadian Manufacturers, 1907–1990.” Explorations in Economic History 37, no. 3 (2000b): 217–40.
Lewis F.The Canadian Wheat Boom and Per Capita Income: New Estimates.” Journal of Political Economy 83, no. 6 (1975): 1249–57.
Lower A.The Trade in Square Timber.” Contributions to Canadian Economics 6, no. 1 (1933): 4061.
Mackintosh W.Economic Factors in Canadian History.” The Canadian Historical Review 4, no. 1 (1923): 1225.
Mackintosh W. Economic Problems of the Prairie Provinces. Toronto: Macmillan, 1935.
Marchak P. Green Gold: The Forest Industry in British Columbia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1983.
McCallum J. Unequal Beginnings: Agriculture and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario Until 1870. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980.
McCloskey Donald N.The Enclosure of Open Fields: Preface to a Study of its Impact on the Efficiency of English Agriculture in the Eighteenth Century.” This Journal 42, no. 1 (1972): 1535.
Metcalf C.Resources and the Regional Economy: An Historical Assessment of the Forest Industry in British Columbia.” Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1999.
Nelles H. V. The Politics of Development: Forests, Mines and Hydro-Electric Power in Ontario, 1849–1941. Toronto: Macmillan, 1974.
Nordhaus William. “Productivity Growth and the New Economy.” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2, no. 2 (2002): 211–65.
Nordhaus William. “Retrospective on the 1970s Productivity Slowdown.” N.B.E.R. Working Paper No. 10950, 2004.
Nordhaus William. “The Sources of the Productivity Rebound and the Manufacturing Employment Puzzle.” N.B.E.R. Working Paper No. 11354, 2005.
Norrie K., D. Owram, and H. Emery. A History of the Canadian Economy, Third Edition. Toronto: Thomson and Nelson, 2002.
North Douglass C. The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790–1860. New York: W. W. Norton, 1966.
Prados de la Escosura Leandro. “International Comparisons of Real Product, 1820–1990: An Alternative Data Set.” Explorations in Economic History 37, no. 1 (2000): 141.
Sachs Jeffrey D., and Francisco Rodriguez. “Why Do Resource Abundant Economies Grow More Slowly?” Journal of Economic Growth 4, no. 3 (1999): 277303.
Sachs Jeffrey D., and Andrew M. Warner. “Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth.” N.B.E.R. Working Paper No. 5398, 1995.
Sachs Jeffrey D., and Andrew M. Warner. “Source of Slow Growth in African Economies.” Journal of African Economics 6, no. 3 (1997): 335–76.
Sachs Jeffrey D., and Andrew M. Warner. “The Big Push: Natural Resource Booms and Growth.” Journal of Development Economics 59, no. 1 (1999): 4376.
Sachs Jeffrey D., and Andrew M. Warner. “Natural Resources and Development: The Curse of Natural Resources.” European Economic Review 45, no. 5 (2001): 827–38.
Serletis A.Export Growth and Canadian Economic Development.” Journal of Development Economics 38, no. 1 (1992): 133–45.
Urquhart M. Gross National Product of Canada, 1870–1926: The Derivation of the Estimates. Kingston: Queen's-McGill Press, 1993.
Watkins M.A Staple Theory of Economic Growth.” Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 29, no. 2 (1963): 141–58.
Wilson S.The Savings Rate Debate: Does the Dependency Hypothesis Hold for Australia and Canada?” Australian Economic History Review 40, no. 2 (2000): 199218.
Wilson S.Canadian Economic Development and Factor Movements before the Great Depression.” Unpublished manuscript, 2005.
Wright G.The Origins of American Industrial Success, 1879–1940.” American Economic Review 80, no. 4 (1990): 651–68.
Wright G., and J. Czelusta. “The Myth of the Resource Curse.” Challenge 47, no. 2 (2004): 638.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed