Chapter 2: The Dynamics of Canadian Urbanization
- Globalization means that cities are increasingly related in a world system. The different emerging patterns of urbanization
are not just the result of some kind of natural process but are the result of deliberate decisions and human action.
- This is known as the political economy perspective, because it points out that the decisions made by people in positions of
power especially in business and politics, have a major impact on how urbanization proceeds.
- Euro settlers greatly influenced early Canadian urbanization
Colonialism and Staples
- Canadian development was largely triggered by the demand for staples and staple production, which included fish, fur, and
timber. Staples are resource-based products that are either important for living or necessary for industry. Wherever these
staples were found, a process of settlement and urbanization occurred.
- However, staples only produced small settlements. What did produce lager urban complexes was the need to administer and
finance these commodities.
- We call such a dominant city a metropolis because it is a place where manufacturing occurs and where services are
provided, and where decisions are made which affect the hinterland (area critical to the whole national economy).
- 2 main functions of European settlements: a) collection and distribution points for staple resources, b) military outposts
- Colonialism helped establish a particular pattern of urban settlements (port cities/cities along the water were critical)
- After 1850, railroads and industrialization became key factors
Commercial Cities and Agricultural Hinterlands
- The emergence of agriculture had several consequences. First, it set the stage for a more permanent population. Second, it
fostered the development of towns that served as community and retail centres for the agricultural population. Third, it led to
the development of regional centres of commerce and administration, which allowed towns to become larger cities and to
take on a function that was different from merely serving as a military outpost.
- Railways provided an all-season link between cities and settlements that did not end with freeze-up and supported more
robust commercial activities.
- Also, the railway made it possible for new settlements not serviceable by water transport to emerge in the interior.
- The end result of railways and the National Policy of 1879 was a process known as concentration and centralization, which
had differential urban effects.
- A second impact of the National Policy was the development of the Canadian West, which was clearly identified as the new
region of promise.
- The opening up of the western plains through the National Policy played a huge role in the emergence of Winnipeg as the
third largest city in Canada.
- Almost always, local commercial elites – civic boosters who promoted economic and population growth – made the
difference between the success or failure of one new community compared to that of another.
- By the end of WW2, there was a well-established settlement pattern for Canada with two key points:
1. Urban centres and settlements w