Harold Innis, The Fur Trade in Canada,
University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2e ed., 1956 , 463
383 Fundamentally, the civilization of North
America is the civilization of Europe [...]. communication and
transportation facilities have always persisted since the
settlement of North America by Europeans, and have been subject
to constant improvement.
Peoples who have been accustomed to the
cultural traits of their civilization [...] find it difficult to
work out new cultural traits suitable to a new environment.
[...] The survivors live through borrowing cultural traits of
peoples who have already worked out a civilization suitable to
the new environment, and through heavy heavy material borrowing
from the peoples of the old land. The process of adaptation is
extremely painful in any case but the maintenance of cultural
traits to which they have been accustomed is of primary
[...] The methods by which the cultural
traits of a civilization any persist with the least possible
depreciation involve an appreciable dependence on the peoples of
the homeland. The migrant is not in a position immediately to
supply all his needs [...].
384 The migrant was consequently in search of
goods which could be carried over long distances by small and
expensive sailboats and which were in such demand in the home
country as to yield the largest profit.
384 The importance of metropolitan centres in
which luxury goods were most in demand was crucial to the
development of colonial North America. In these centres goods
were manufactured for the consumption of colonials and in these
centres goods produced in the colonies were sold at the highest
385 CD remained British in spite of free
trade and chiefly because she continued as an exporter of
staples to a progressively industrialized mother country.
391 The continent of North America became
divided into three areas: (1) to the north in what is now the
Dominion of CD, producing furs, (2) to the south in what were
during the Civil War the secession states, producing cotton, and
(3) in the centre the widely diversified economic territory
[...]. The staple producing areas were closely dependent on
industrial Europe, especially Great Britain. The fur-producing
area was destined to remain British. The cotton-producing area
was forced after the Civil War to become subordinate to the
central territory just as the fur-producing area, at present
producing the staples, wheat, pulp and paper, minerals, and
lumber, tends to be brought under its influence.
392 The Northwest Company and its successors
the Hudsonís Bay Company established a centralized organization
which covered the northern half of North America from the
Atlantic to the Pacific. [...] It is no mere accident that the
present Dominion coincides roughly with the fur-trading areas of
northern North America. The bases of supplies for the trade in
Quebec, in western Ontario, and in British Columbia represent
the agricultural areas of the present Dominion. The Northeast
Company was the forerunner of the present Confederation.
393 Canada emerged as a political entity with
boundaries largely determined by the fur trade. These boundaries
included a vast north temperate land extending from the Atlantic
to the pacific and dominated by the Canadian Shield. The present
Dominion emerged not in spite of geography but because of it.