Statistics Canada
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Provinces and manufacturing

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Students will examine data on manufacturing in Canada between 1900 and 1954 from various online editions of the Canada Year Book. They will reach conclusions about the manufacturing heartland in Canada during the first half of the 20th century, and use their research to create a concept poster. The theme of the poster is "Manufacturing's heartland—changing or staying the same?"


  • To locate relevant information using historical documents.
  • To analyse, classify and interpret information from historical sources.
  • To read a variety of graphs, charts and tables for specific purposes.
  • To use vocabulary specific to the topic.
  • To make inferences and draw conclusions.
  • To brainstorm ideas for a concept poster.
  • To communicate information and understanding using a concept poster.
  • To demonstrate understanding that the manufacturing heartland of Canada during the first half of the 20th century was in Ontario and Quebec, and that different datasets lead to the same conclusion.

Suggested grade level and subject areas

History, Social Studies


5 minutes for the introduction (steps 1 and 2)
45 to 55 minutes for worksheets (steps 3 to 6)
30 minutes for concept posters (steps 7 to 9)

Vocabulary (as used in the context of this lesson)

Heartland – most important, central part of a country.
Industrial – relating to manufacturing or business, apart from agriculture and commerce.
Manufacturing – making goods using workers and machinery, usually in a factory—e.g., bicycles, t-shirts, chocolates.
Trend – a general tendency or pattern.


  • class sets of Student worksheet 1, Summary worksheet and evaluation rubric
  • overhead transparency of Student worksheet 1
  • copies of student worksheets 2 and 3
  • computer lab
  • materials for posters (markers, construction paper or Bristol board, etc.).

Canada Year Book resources

1916/1917 (PDF)

1947 (PDF)

1967 (PDF)

Classroom instructions

  1. Present the following outline to the class:
    1. We are trying to find the provinces where it was easiest to get a manufacturing job during the period from 1900 to 1964.
    2. We will go to the computer lab and look in the various online editions of the Canada Year Book for information.
    3. We will develop some conclusions together.
    4. We will create a concept poster.
  2. Review the definition of 'manufacturing' and present the class with this challenge:

    What is manufacturing? Where does it often take place? Are factories typically in urban or suburban areas? What products do you see around you right now that were made in a factory? Checking the "Made in…" labels, find out where the factories that made them are located. Are most of them in Canada or elsewhere? Who knows someone who works in a factory? Do you think that there used to be more or fewer manufacturing jobs than there are today in Canada?

    Suppose you are a Canadian looking for a factory job during the period from 1900 to 1964. Which provinces do you think might give you the best chance of getting a factory job?

    Let's test our guesses using the various online editions of the Canada Year Book.

  3. Ask students to find the Statistics Canada website and locate the bar graph on page 565 in the Canada Year Book 1947.
  4. Hand each student a copy of Student worksheet 1 and put a transparency on the overhead projector. Direct students to find information on the bar graph to complete the worksheet. Go through the questions with the class on the overhead transparency.
  5. Divide the class into two groups and distribute Student worksheet 2 to one group and Student worksheet 3 to the other group.
  6. When all groups have found their data and finished their summaries, use the Summary worksheet to summarize all data. Focus questions on what picture the students see in the data.
  7. Provide support for students' concept poster project. Brainstorm items and format for posters:

    We are trying to show that the industrial heartland of Canada was in Ontario and Quebec from 1917 to 1964, despite growth and change in numbers of workers, value of goods produced and number of factories in other provinces. Your concept poster should include basic information on the number of manufacturing establishments and employees, values of shipments, and wages and salaries to illustrate how the industrial heartland of Canada remained in Ontario and Quebec from 1917 to 1964.

    Brainstorming will bring out some appropriate ways to illustrate your main idea. For example, you can show parts of the graph on page 565, examples of manufacturing sectors and graphic representations of numbers of factories or numbers of workers.

  8. Go over the evaluation rubric with the class so that students are aware of the expectations for their work.
  9. To find more about the people who worked in the factories and their lives, concerns, rights, victories and defeats, send students to the website, where they can use the Canadian Encyclopedia online, or to the Library and Archives Canada website to view photos and other documents online.


Students could investigate the state of manufacturing in Canada today and make some comparisons with the past in Canada and with other countries today (e.g., China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, United States) using online databases.