The fur trade: By the early 19th century, the fur trade was in trouble. Montréal merchants no longer made a lot of money, because one had to travel farther and farther to find fur. The colony therefore needed a new economic engine.
Wood: Fortunately, the timber trade was booming, thanks to huge demand from England. Despite the long distance, England had to get its timber supplies from the colony. It needed this wood to build ships and houses, and to make barrels.
Farming: In the seigneuries in the St. Lawrence Plain, the land was depleted and overcrowded. Crops had to be diversified, but each parcel of land produced barely enough to feed a family.
Meanwhile, in Upper Canada, agriculture was flourishing: the land was new and the soil was rich. Upper Canada had taken over wheat farming, but it had a serious transportation problem: there were no rivers that led to the sea. This problem was solved with the construction of the Lachine Canal.
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Potash: Potash was also being produced in Upper Canada, where there were many forests. Potash was obtained by leaching wood ashes. Potash was used to make soap. At the time, England was producing a lot of cotton fabrics. It needed large amounts of potash to clean and bleach all these fabrics.
In the colony, trade was now in the hands of large English traders who founded many companies and even banks to meet their needs. Trade was changing and this led to the creation of new industries.
Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social
See also – Traces of the past: