The Lachine Canal is a standing artifact that symbolizes industrialization in Montreal that lead to a business-focused economy as trading and farming based livelihoods became a part of Canadian business history. The industrialization of the mid 1800s can be widely accredited to the new source of power the Lachine Canal provided for businesses when it was expanded in 1848, which caused investors and businessmen to increase production and take on a greater market, resulting in a hierarchy of reasons that stimulated an economic boom that would change business operations for the greater good. That being said, the Lachine Canal stimulated the commencement of new factories which led to new jobs for labourers and resulted in future settlement of immigrants that expanded Montreal’s urban landscape. Lastly, this all leads to a higher demand for the shipment of goods to reach an expanded market.

A New Power Source For An Emerging Economy With Growing Businesses

When the Lachine Canal was expanded and a new source of hydraulic power emerged, businessmen quickly invested capital into new factories along the canal to use this new energy source for the benefit of their businesses because it would allow them to operate at a capacity that was not seen as possible with pure manpower. It also provided Montreal based firms with access to new markets, specifically those directed towards the port of New York, as Montreal felt threatened by the competition that the Erie Canal presented towards the Great Lakes trade (The First Link In The Canal Network). More specifically, the Lachine Canal can be credited for major economic advances due to the Redpath Sugar refinery being built in close proximity to the canal solely for the purposes of easy access to different markets that would allow Montreal to expand towards these areas. The founder, John Redpath owned a construction company that was heavily involved in the construction and expansion of the Lachine Canal, allowing Redpath to remain up to speed on the latest ideas for the canal (ie- the ideas behind the new power source). Redpath later opened a sugar refinery with the wealth he created through his construction business. On account of that point, Redpath was able to open his sugar refinery in close proximity to the canal for the purposes of using the hydraulic power the canal provided to submit to his new business and pursue a capacity level of three thousand barrels of refined sugar per month (Dr. Catherine Briggs, Early Industrialization In Canada…). With capacity racing to new heights, these businesses needed more employees in order to keep up with such high demand so they could remain up to speed with expansion goals for the better of Montreal’s economy. New workers also meant a more highly concentrated population that benefited industrialization concerning the Lachine Canal. 

Due to the new sources of hydraulic power stimulating business growth through dozens of small businesses located along the canal, businessmen hired over two thousand employees in order to keep up with growing demands, which shows how the canal stimulated the economy and created new jobs for people which allowed for more people to finally move away from the farming industry (A Supplier Of Hydraulic Power). New jobs resulted in new immigrants coming to Montreal to pursue employment in different factory jobs along the canal. Through the process of hiring new workers, diversification was increased as workers from Great Britain and more so Quebec are called upon for labour. This eventually leads to an urban sprawl that exceeded city limits as immigrants came to Montreal to fulfill labour shortages along the Lachine Canal (YouTube, Musee McCord Museum). This all goes to show the drastic changes to Monreal that hydraulic power stimulated, and as a result, the blue-collar workforce was stabilized and the economy was booming. As businessmen began to hire new employees, there was a new need for shipment in order for these factories to reach new markets. 

A New Need For Shipping

Once the canal was expanded in 1848 and factories were operating at great capacity, the need for both international and regional shipment drastically increased because factories like Redpath Sugar imported resources from international markets in the West Indies region (Dr. Catherine Briggs, Early Industrialization In Canada…). Following that point, the Lachine Canal was served as a waterway to let ships pass and fulfil the shipment needs of the factories along the canal. This is somewhat of an indirect response to the hydraulic power the canal provided for businesses, yet, without this new source of power the factories would not be able to operate at a capacity that would fill the needs of these international markets, thus reducing the need for shipment (Desjardins, Pauline).

As hydraulic power emerged from the expansion of the Lachine Canal, industrialization seemed to both directly and indirectly follow. This new power source stimulated the commencement of new factories, which created jobs for workers, and was then followed by new settlement and a tremendous urban sprawl which led to a mass industrialization period in the city of Montreal. It is important to understand the arguments made in somewhat of a hierarchical order, and the hydraulic power source being at the top, followed by new factories, then the settlement of new workers, followed by the need for mass shipment to fulfill the needs of businesses along the canal. 

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