Canadian Geographic
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Pulp and Paper, 1928-1961

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century the Canadian Shield was transformed from a largely undeveloped territory into a resource hinterland for Central Canada (and to some extent the United States). The changing technology in the production of pulp from wood, the new techniques of producing hydroelectric power from running water, American demand for newsprint, provincial legislation prohibiting the export of pulpwood (1900 in Ontario, 1910 in Quebec), and American legislation allowing the import of duty-free newsprint (1913) gave rise to large-scale pulp and paper mills based on the Shield’s spruce forests and power from its fast-flowing rivers.

By the late 1920s the heavy investment in the pulp and paper industry of the late 1910s and early 1920s was beginning to create overcapacity.

Through the 1950s the pulp and paper industry lead all others in the value of Canadian manufacturing production. Over 90% of all newsprint continued to be exported, mainly to the United States to feed the presses of large American city newspapers, and there was considerable American investment in the industry. Quebec mills continued to expand and the province accounted for about half of Canadian production. British Columbia more than doubled its capacity and its share of Canadian production. Coastal mills, with their accessibility to immense forest stands, the by-products of sawmills, low-cost energy, and superb water transport accounted for most of the expansion; only one mill was built in the interior, at Castlegar. Corporate concentration in the Canadian pulp and paper industry persisted: six companies accounted for half the capacity.


This series contains two graphs and an interactive map containing information on the pulp and paper industry. The first graph shows value of pulp production by province and where consumed between 1922 and 1928. The second graph depicts value of paper production by province between 1920 and 1928. The map contains a snapshot of the Canadian industry in 1961. Clicking on the legend brings up a pie chart showing total tonnage of pulp and paper produced in the selected province, as well as locations of different types of mills. The user can explore portions of each by clicking to zoom in and out, and dragging to pan around it.


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Quiz :

In 1910 which product was prohibited from export by Quebec?

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