In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, Trillium Network’s student intern, Oscar Crawford-Ritchie, has decided to author a series of blog posts pertaining to the history of Ontario’s manufacturing industry, from Confederation up until the present day. To start off we will discuss the economic history and development of Ontario.
Blog 1: The Fur Trade
Long before the arrival of European settlers, Indigenous groups inhabited the area that came to be known as Ontario. By the early 17th century, Indigenous groups established a strong economic network, trading furs, decorative goods, game, and other natural resources. It was not until the early 1610s that the first Europeans to the area arrived from France and Britain and established colonies.
Exploiting both the advanced trading network already formed by Indigenous groups and the area’s natural resources, European settlers formed companies to facilitate trade between the colonies and their European homelands. Specifically, a group of British merchants founded the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670, and the firm enjoyed a monopoly on the fur trade in the areas that eventually became Northern Québec, Ontario, and Manitoba.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, trade in fur, game, and other natural resources continued to play a significant role in the early development of Ontario’s economy. Despite strong network of trading partners in the newly established colonies, Ontario’s economic growth began to stagnate At this time, Québec, the Maritimes, and the American colonies held most of the European people in British and French North America; as a result, these were the areas that experienced the most economic growth.
It was not until 1780s, when the British government rewarded the United Empire Loyalists with plots of land, did that Ontario begin to attract more European settlers.
Read part 2 of The History Of Ontario’s Manufacturing Industry here