Commerce and industry on the Prairies
In 1905, most people living in the Prairies worked on a farm or ranch. But not everyone. Some colonists also found work in lumber camps and on railway construction sites, allowing them to save enough money to eventually settle on a piece of land.
But other economic activities are needed for a society to function and grow. Businesses, for example, provided the many different services colonists and livestock growers needed. First there was the general store, an indispensible place where one could obtain whatever the land could not provide. Then there was the post office, which allowed the residents of a community to stay in touch with the outside world; for example, with family members who had been left behind, or to receive purchases ordered by catalogue. Added to these core services was a multitude of other businesses and industries, such as the mill, the forge and the bank branch.
A slew of other industries directly related to agriculture and livestock growing also emerged in the Prairies: slaughterhouses and tanneries near ranches, flour mills and grain elevators near farms.
Still, the Prairies were less industrialized than Québec and Ontario. In fact, these two provinces provided many consumer goods to Prairie colonists, thanks to the railway network. Winnipeg was the largest manufacturing centre in the Prairies and its railway industry employed many workers.
Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social
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