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.

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. Furthermore, different staples (fur, fish, timber, grain, oil, etc) have differing impacts on rates of settlement, federal-provincial conflicts, etc. The thesis was formulated in the 1920s by economic historians Harold A. INNIS and W.A. MACKINTOSH. 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. Contemporary proponents of the thesis argue that Innis's version more accurately describes the Canadian situation to the present. The thesis may be the most important single contribution to scholarship by Canadian social scientists and historians; it has also had some influence internationally, notably in the analysis of a comparable country such as Australia.


Further Reading

  • W.T. Easterbrook and Mel H. Watkins, eds, Approaches to Canadian Economic History (1967).