Before the Second World War, Canada was a rural country. Unlike most industrializing countries, Canada’s rural population grew throughout the century after 1871 – even if it declined as a proportion of the total population. Rural Canadians also differed in their lives from rural populations elsewhere. In a country dominated by a harsh northern climate, a short growing season, isolated households and communities, and poor land, they typically relied on three ever-shifting pillars of support: the sale of cash crops, subsistence from the local environment, and wage work off the farm.
Canada’s Rural Majority is an engaging and accessible history of this distinctive experience, including not only Canada’s farmers, but also the hunters, gardeners, fishers, miners, loggers, and cannery workers who lived and worked in rural Canada. Focusing on the household, the environment, and the community, Canada’s Rural Majority is a compelling classroom resource and an invaluable overview of this understudied aspect of Canadian history.
About the Author
R.W. Sandwell is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.