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ECON 2P19 (11)

Chapter 6.docx

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Indra Hardeen

Chapter 6 – Upper Canada The Pioneer Economy, 1783-1815 • The French established fur trading posts and defensive forts during their regime, as with so much of the frontier of New France, these were but a series of way stations in the wilderness • They were designed to encourage the trade and support of the real rulers of the territory, the Native peoples • American Revolution brought the first change to the region • Loyalists, threatened at home, sought a refuge during the conflict • Crops and farming remained secondary to military activities, and these communities could not have survived without the assistance of the British military, which supplied both the weapons of war and the necessary food • Loyalists drifted westward from the area around the Richelieu, while others, unsuited for the wilderness life, returned to the United States or left for England • The best estimates is that the loyalist population of what were still the western reaches of Quebec was somewhere around 6,000 by the end of the American Revolution • Certain disadvantages were faced by those who hoped to see their new homeland prosper and grow • In the founding years, government, financial influence, and goods emanated from Quebec, and especially from Montreal • Upper Canada remained tired for a long time to the merchants, forwarders, and bankers of Montreal • Montreal provided the route of transportation, the source of credit, and the access to goods and power needed by the infant colony • The main difficulty, was the feature noted above: in these years, the region was beyond the feasible margin for all commercial activities except the fur trade • Upper Canada was beyond the feasible margin of commercial agriculture • Individuals will leave their homelands to take up agricultural land elsewhere for one basic reason: • To improve their lot and that of their families • This very simple point suggests several factors to look at in explaining the timing of agricultural migration to a particular area such as Upper Canada: the expected gains from establishing a farm, the expected costs of doing so, and how the net returns from this location compare with those available in the next most likely destination • Finally, the opportunity to earn income from an activity complementary to farming, such as logging, would encourage settlement • One obvious determinant of expected returns in agriculture is secure access to suitable land, which focuses attention on such issues as climate, fertility, and land disposition and tenure systems • The other factor is the price the migrant expects to receive for each unit of output produced • The main costs of bringing a farm into production are the price of the land and the cost of the tools, equipment, and hired labour needed to prepare and then work it • It is worth stressing two important points here • First, the expected lifetime net returns need to be more than just positive • Is this piece of land the optimum available, or are others cheaper, more accessible, or of higher quality • The second point in accessing individual choices, the focus is on expec
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