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Postwar Prosperity, Growth and Urbanization

Canada Council, Suburban sprawl, Canadian culture, American investment, Canadian content

Fearing postwar depression, Canada got a boom instead. Pent-up demand from the war and the depression started a long period of sustained economic growth. With the rest of the world devastated, Canada and the United States had unparalleled opportunities in world trade. Canada attempted to rebuild its old trade network that had focused on Britain and Europe, but Canadian-American economic integration grew stronger, cross-border trade increased, and more American investment flowed into Canada. Both manufacturing and resource industries grew, and the discovery of oil in Alberta gradually made that province one of Canada’s wealthiest. Organized labor grew and its power increased. During the 1950s more than 30 percent of Canadian workers were unionized.

Industrial growth was matched by population growth. In 1949 Newfoundland and Labrador, until then a British dominion separate from Canada, chose in a hotly contested referendum to become Canada’s tenth province. Immigration, mostly from Europe, and the postwar baby boom (a great increase in the birthrate) raised Canada’s population by 50 percent, from 12 million to 18 million, between 1946 and 1961. By 1961 Canada, which had been 70 percent rural around the start of the century, had become 70 percent urban. Widespread home ownership and automobile ownership gave families an independence they had not had before. Suburban sprawl became a feature of urban life as the proliferation of automobiles made long-distance commuting possible.

Television became available to most homes and imported, to an even greater extent than before, the popular culture of the United States. Canadians who feared the loss of their culture voiced their protests again as they had in the 1930s, and Canadian governments sought to promote Canadian culture and national identity as a counterweight to the American influence. Thus in the 1960s the federal Board of Broadcast Governors decreed that 55 percent of the television programming should have Canadian content. The Canada Council was founded in 1957 to support arts and culture in Canada. The deepening integration of the Canadian and American economies was not directly addressed, however, beyond some limited controls on foreign investment.



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