Timber and Wheat


The Quebec Act
The War of 1812
The Fur Empire
Timber and Wheat
Population Increase
Little Englandism




While the fur trade was a key resource of British North America and particularly of its huge unsettled western and northern areas, two additional natural resources supported thriving economic sectors and profitable exports to the mother country.


The Canadian timber trade greatly profited from the the Napoleonic wars, which meant a blockade of Europe and the impossibility for Britain to import timber, especially timber for shipbuilding, from the Baltic. Little by little, Canadian timber was accepted as an alternative. The timber trade required not only forests to exploit, but also rivers as means of transportation. New Brunswick with long rivers, and Quebec with the St Lawrence, were ideal places where the timber industry could develop. By the 1830s, the forest industry was the largest employer in British North America.




The other key sector of British New America was agriculture. In Upper Canada, the production of wheat increased throughout the 1820s and 1830s, both for the domestic market and for exports to Britain, which were encouraged by the Corn Laws of 1827 that granted lower duties to wheat from the empire. In Lower Canada, the production of wheat could not keep up with the rapid increase of the population and wheat had to be imported from Upper Canada. In addition to subsistence agriculture, Lower Canada specialised in the production of livestock for the urban market and the lumber camps.