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Provinces and manufacturing

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Ontario and Quebec were the Canadian leaders in manufacturing at the time of Confederation and they maintained their dominance well into the 20th century. In this lesson, students will determine the accuracy of this premise by examining selected data from the Canada Year Book.


  • To locate relevant information using historical documents.
  • To analyse, classify and interpret information from historical documents.
  • To read a variety of graphs, charts and tables for specific purposes.
  • To make inferences and draw conclusions.
  • To communicate information and understanding using charts, graphs and oral reports.
  • To use vocabulary specific to the topic and theme.
  • To demonstrate understanding that statistical data support the premise that the manufacturing heartland of Canada in the 19th and early 20th centuries was in Ontario and Quebec.

Suggested grade level and subject areas

Social Studies, History, Language


15 minutes for the introduction (steps 1 and 2)
50 to 60 minutes to complete the student worksheets (steps 3 and 4)

Vocabulary (as used in the context of this lesson)

Capital – goods or money available to be invested to increase production and wealth.
Capital investment – amount of money or goods available to a business for everyday activity or expansion.
Establishments – businesses.
Gross domestic product – a method by which a government measures the total value of all goods and services produced in a country in a given year, excluding price changes. It is calculated using prices from a base year.
Manufacturing – making goods using machinery and workers, usually in a factory—e.g., skates, t-shirts, chocolates.
Net value of products – the amount of income a business realizes after all expenses are paid.
Per capita – for each person. For example, ‘income per capita' is the average income per person in a given population.
Regional disparities – differences seen in different sections of the country in gross domestic product, per capita income and per capita productivity levels.


  • a class set of Student worksheet 1 and the evaluation rubric
  • an overhead transparency or electronic version of the worksheets to review the tasks and for the sharing session at the end of the lesson
  • the computer lab
  • an outline of the lesson for the class

Canada Year Book resources

1927/1928 (PDF)

1947 (PDF)

Classroom instructions

  1. Present the following outline to the class:
    1. Your task is to examine statistics from two different editions of the Canada Year Book to determine whether the data defends or refutes the following premise: Ontario and Quebec were the Canadian leaders in manufacturing at the time of Confederation and they maintained their dominance well into the 20th century.
  2. Review the vocabulary with the class.
  3. Have students break into small groups and complete their research using Student worksheet 1. They are investigating the following datasets:
    1. number of workers
    2. number of factories
    3. value of goods produced
    4. wages of employees for selected years and regions of Canada.
  4. Discuss the assignment and findings with the class. Have the students suggest reasons for the persistence of regional disparities in the manufacturing industry.


In the Canada Year Book 1927/1928 (pages 410 to 412) and the Canada Year Book 1947 (pages 513 to 514), students can find data on the development of individual industries. Students can follow one industry to see if its development pattern was consistent or if it was a growing or declining industry.

Students can examine the Canada Year Book 1967 (page 688) to determine whether Ontario and Quebec continued to dominate the manufacturing field.

Students can use current data on the Statistics Canada website to continue the examination of manufacturing and find out whether Ontario and Quebec still dominate the manufacturing field.

Students can predict, based on extrapolations from the data they have examined, the future of manufacturing in Canada. They can investigate manufacturing in the global community using the following questions:

  • Where is the bulk of the world's manufacturing currently done?
  • What are some problems for workers in those countries?
  • What are some problems for workers in Canada because of the globalization of manufacturing?
  • What local effects can students uncover?