Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The impact of rail road development on Canadian society has recently become a much debated topic. A significant interpretation of Canadian economic development posits a fundamental contradiction between mercantilists and industrialists, arguing that the former have maintained supremacy over the latter and that this has retarded the emergence of industrial capitalism. Further, it is claimed that Canada's railways were designed to promote mercantile interests and functioned to impede the transition from a mercantile to an industrial economy. The above formulation, however, largely employs strictly economic criteria to characterize Canadian society. This thesis presents an alternate framework, one which attempts to view social reality from the bottom-up, that is from the point of view of the producers and their work relationship5. Using the criteria developed for this framework, it is argued that railroad development between 1850 to 1879 marked the transition from a mercantilist to an industrial capitalist soci~ty and, more- over, that these transportation projects were the backbone of this social change.
Barkans, John Victor, "Labour, Capital and the State: Canadian Railroads and Emergent Social Relations of Production" (1976). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7113.
McMaster University Library