They argued that such assumptions should be applied to the analyses of any staple economy. Article by Mel Watkins. Staple exports drove the development process by spurring investments and consumption in other domains, outside of the staple sectors. Staple Thesis Staple Thesis, a theory asserting that the export of natural resources, or staples, from Canada to more advanced economies has a pervasive impact on the economy as well as on the social and political systems. Whereas in Canada the beaver was fittingly chosen as a symbol of unity, in Newfoundland the cod was largely responsible for disunity.

Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. He also was an inveterate traveler who traveled to all parts of Canada sometimes by canoe and to major universities abroad to glean insights from field and academy. Search The Canadian Encyclopedia. However, the evidence suggests that linkages assumed to be nonexistent by Chambers and Gordon were, indeed, of considerable importance in Canada and in other successful staple economies. A History of Canadian Economic Thought. These travels to university centers in the old world and to the Canadian frontier highlighted the discrepancy Innis perceived between a political economy based on European experience and the distinctive requirements of an economic history of new countries. Yale University Press,

Don Mills, Ontario [u.

In his long career, Innis also wrote seminal books on hqrold, inspiring Marshall McLuhan to the point that McLuhan became his intellectual disciple. Innis College tsaples its doors to its first undergraduate class of about students in September Early civilization was confined by these limits to three distinct areas. The staple theory of economic growth is most closely linked with the name of Harold Innis —a University of Toronto economist who argued that current theories failed to explain the economic evolution of countries such as Canada, which has a relative abundance of land and other natural resources.

Moreover, proof of the analytical value of the staple theory is unrelated to the successful staple-related development.

staples thesis harold innis

Stappes assumed as nonexistent each and every causal connection that staple theorists either implicitly or explicitly assumed to be important. The effects of the tragedy of the replacement of commercialism by capitalism call for a long period of expensive readjustment and restoration.


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Such staple-related industries can generate cost savings or economies to other unrelated industries in the region, thereby fostering the growth of these industries and attracting new industries to the region. McClelland and Stewart, Innis’s call for an economic history more appropriate to Canadian experience was, in terms of cultural history, a direct parallel to the insistence of the painters of the Group of Seven for a more authentic, indigenous art freed from the bondage of European paradigms.

For example, staple exports are said to have no differential effect on the rate of technological change, unit production costs in other industries related to economies of scaleor in attracting higher-productivity industries to the country.

This industry was very decentralized, but also very co-operative. Canadian historians rejected Turnerian frontier historiography as an inapplicable Americanism and instead embraced the staples theory of Innis.

Staples thesis

University of Toronto Press, The peripheryor hinterland, is dominated by the core, or heartland. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. It is not too much to say that European xtaples left its impress on North America through its demand for staple products. Similarities Between the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Our concern here is more with Innis’s main contribution to the economic history of Canada, which is staples theory.

staples thesis harold innis

But the staple trap is not an inevitable by-product of staple production; rather, it is largely a function of supply-side decisions made by decision makers within the erstwhile staple economy. Key factors in determining how this staples story played out in Canada were technology such as the railroad and geography availability of natural resources, opportunities or difficulties of transportation. In economic developmentthe staples thesis is a theory of export-led growth based on Canadian experience.


The construction of the road was the result of the direction of energy to the conquest of geographic barriers. Perhaps the main idea that historians took over from Innis was the belief that Canada developed not in spite of geography but because of it, that there was a naturalness and solidity to the very structure of the country that lay far deeper than political arrangements.

Agreeing that Canada had been born with a staple economy, they differed insofar as Mackintosh saw a continuing evolution toward a mature industrialized economy based on staple production, whereas Innis saw a tendency for Canada to become permanently locked into dependency as a resource hinterland. Staple exports can be important to the growth process through their direct and indirect linkage effects on the economy, even if staple exports themselves constitute a small percentage of GDP.

These non-staple industries can, in time, become export oriented given their low production costs, which are partially attributed to the development of the staple-related residentiary industries.

Staple Thesis | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Douglass North pays particular heed to demand linkages with respect to what he refers to as residentiary industries in the secondary or tertiary sectors of the economy, which develop to meet the needs of the local staple-producing population. Moreover, narrow staple economies that iinnis to develop linked and related residentiary industries become subject to relatively substantial and independently determined volatility determined by the ebbs and flows of the demand for staple products.

staples thesis harold innis

Accessed 22 May This supply-side issue resides in the hands of the staple producers, and Innis pays particular attention to transportation costs as an important cost variable which staple theesis can significantly affect to make their staples cost competitive, thus spurring a region’s capacity to develop through staple exports.