Master of Arts
This thesis considers the creation, commercial success, decline, and abandonment of Depot Harbour, a major grain port in Ontario. I argue that the rapid, early success of the port beginning in 1898 was only possible with the confluence of economic globalization of grain markets, the expansion of the grain trade and transportation routes in Canada, and ownership invested in the port’s success. The transfer of ownership to a national railroad left Depot Harbour exposed to the negative ramifications of consolidation and nationalization of the railroad system of Canada, which led to its neglect and ultimate abandonment by 1945 despite the ongoing expansion of the grain trade. The development and operation of the port was an intrusion into the property and lives of the indigenous population of Parry Island and left a legacy that included property loss and changes in the economic base for that community.
Summary for Lay Audience
The production of wheat in the western region of Canada from the 1890s through the 1920s marked an important phase in the economic growth of the country. This wheat economy was possible because consumers in Europe suddenly began to import large volumes of grain. Transportation across the Great Lakes was a key component in the transportation of wheat from farm to market. This thesis examines why Depot Harbour, a major grain port in Ontario, was created, achieved early success in handling wheat exports, slowly declined, and was ultimately abandoned. This thesis assesses how a global economy that was becoming more connected, changes in the port’s ownership, and developments in the country’s transportation system all influenced the historical trajectory of this port. This thesis also considers how the port intruded into the property and lives of the indigenous population of Parry Island and left a legacy that included dispossession of land and a major shift toward reliance on wage employment as an economic base.
Holland-Stergar, Patrick, "Depot Harbour: the Rise and Fall of an Ontario Grain Port" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6863.