How Agriculture Made Canada

Farming in the Nineteenth Century

By (author) Peter A. Russell
Categories: History
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Paperback : 9780773540651, 312 pages, November 2012

An original and textured analysis of how agricultural developments in Quebec and Ontario had a significant and direct impact on rural settlement in the Prairies.


Nineteenth-century farm families needed land for the next generation. Their quest shaped agricultural settlement across Canada. This overview of rural history in Quebec, Ontario, and the Prairies provides a new perspective on the ways in which agriculture and the family farm were central to the country's expansion and essential to understanding social, political, and economic changes. How Agriculture Made Canada shows how differences between the agricultural development of Quebec and that of Ontario had a decisive influence on the settlement of the Prairies. Peter Russell demonstrates that farming families eventually ran out of land against the edges of the St Lawrence lowlands. While Quebec-based Habitants reached their region's limits earlier, Ontario encouraged people to migrate west. Russell argues that the thousands of relocated Ontario farmers changed Manitoba's bilingual openness to an exclusively English-speaking province that then assimilated East European arrivals. Thus, if not for the agricultural crises in the Canadas, Manitoba might have been at least as francophone as anglophone. The first comprehensive synthesis on the history of Canadian farming in decades, How Agriculture Made Canada reveals the lasting impact that nineteenth-century agricultural changes have had on the nation.


“A significant addition to the literature on the history of Canadian agriculture” - British Journal of Canadian Studies