Manufacturing employs roughly one-sixth of the labor force and accounts for a similar share of the gross national product. The leading groups of manufactured items (by value) are transportation equipment, especially automobiles and automobile parts; foods and beverages; paper and paper products, particularly newsprint; primary metals; and chemicals. Also important are electrical and electronic equipment; fabricated metal items; lumber and other wood products; refined petroleum; and machinery.

About 80 per cent (by value) of all goods manufactured in Canada are produced in Ontario and Quebec. Of outstanding importance as industrial centers are the urbanized areas near the lower Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence River.

Ontario alone accounts for about half of the total value of all Canadian manufacturing and has the most diversified production. Automobiles and processed foods are the leading products. Also important are primary metals, liquors, paper and paper goods, chemicals, electrical and electronic equipment, and industrial, agricultural, and office machinery. Toronto is by far the chief industrial center; others include Hamilton, Ottawa, London, and Windsor.

In Quebec the largest industries are petroleum refining, the preparation of foods and beverages, the smelting and refining of metals, and the making of pulp and paper. Also significant is the manufacturing of cotton and synthetic textiles, clothing, tobacco products, shoes, and aircraft. The largest single share of the province's production (by value) comes from Montreal.

In other provinces manufacturing is based heavily on processing local resources, such as timber, grains, livestock, petroleum, and fish. Among the chief centers are Vancouver, British Columbia; Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.


Agriculture virtually dominated Canada's economy until the early 1900's, but has declined in relative importance as the nation has industrialized. Today, agriculture engages only about 3 per cent of the labor force. Production, however, has greatly increased over the years as farms have become larger, more efficient, and mechanized. Farm production meets most of the nation's food requirements and provides surpluses, especially of wheat, for export.

Less than 7 per cent of the nation's land is farmland. Most of it lies in the southern part of the Prairie Provinces, Canada's great granary and richest farming region. Here, wheat is the chief crop, although other grains, fodder crops, oilseeds, and sugar beets are also important. In addition, the prairies are Canada's foremost cattle-producing region.

The only other major farming region lies in southern Ontario and Quebec, bordering the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Farming here is intensive and diversified, and it serves large, urban markets nearby. Among the region's many products are beef cattle, hogs, poultry and eggs, milk, corn and other grains, hay, tobacco, and fruits and vegetables. In value, production rivals that of the Prairie Provinces.

Farming in the rest of Canada is limited by poor soils, rough terrain, harsh climate, and other adverse factors. In the Atlantic Provinces production is mainly for local markets and farming consists largely of dairying and the growing of hay, root crops, and hardy fruits. Potatoes are a specialty of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; apples are an important crop in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. In British Columbia the Okanagan and Fraser valleys are noted for a variety of fruit.


Canada is immensely rich and virtually self-sufficient in minerals, and mining is a multi-billion-dollar industry. About 60 minerals are presently mined; the variety of Canada's mineral production is exceeded by that of few other nations. Canada is a world leader in production of asbestos, nickel, zinc, silver, molybdenum, sulfur, gypsum, uranium, potash, copper, lead, cadmium, gold, platinum, and cobalt. Increasingly, minerals are being smelted and refined within Canada; some are still exported as ores.

Fuels account for nearly 60 per cent of the value of all minerals produced. Petroleum and natural gas are by far the most important fuels produced. Petroleum first came into large-scale production in the late 1940's and has since become Canada's most valuable mineral. The Prairie Provinces, espedaily Alberta, produce most of the petroleum and natural gas.

Metals account for nearly 30 per cent of the value of Canada's total mineral output. Copper, gold, nickel, iron, uranium, zinc, and lead are the chief ones. Most of the known deposits of metals lie in the Canadian Shield and in the western mountains.

Canada is a leading producer of potash. Other minerals produced include sulfur, asbestos, salt, peat, and gypsum.


Canada is one of the world's leading wood-producing countries, normally ranking among the top 10. Logging takes place mainly in the southern parts of the forest belt, especially on the Canadian Shield and in mountains of the west.

From the forests come vast amounts of timber; most of it is either used as lumber or processed into pulp for making newsprint, other paper, and many by-products. British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario are the leading producers; they account for the major part of Canada's annual cut.

British Columbia, with its magnificent stands of conifers, especially Douglas fir, normally supplies more than 40 per cent of all timber cut and about 60 per cent of all lumber. Quebec, followed by British Columbia and Ontario, is the chief producer of pulp.

Fisheries and Furs

Canada's annual catch of fish, much of which is exported, is among the most valuable in the world. Most of it comes from the coasts of Newfoundland and the Maritime Provinces, where fishing has long been a major occupation. Of outstanding importance are the Grand Banks, southeast of Newfoundland, one of the most bountiful fisheries in the world. In the early 1990's, however, excessive fishing in this area, especially of cod, became a major problem. The Atlantic catch normally consists mainly of cod, herring, flounder, redfish, and haddock. Lobsters, scallops, and other shellfish, taken from shallow coastal waters, are also of great importance.

Fisheries along the British Columbia coast yield mainly salmon, the leading fish by total value. Others taken from the Pacific include halibut and herring. Commercial fishing on inland waters, largely for whitefish, pickerel, and perch, centers in the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, and Great Slave Lake. There is virtually no commercial fishing in Arctic waters.

As in colonial times, Canada is a major producer and exporter of furs. Wild animals, including beaver, marten, muskrat, fox, coyote, and mink, are trapped or hunted throughout much of the country. Usually of greater value, however, are pelts produced on fur farms, virtually all of which are mink. Ontario is the leading fur-producing province; Montreal, the leading fur market.

Transportation and Communication

Transportation. Canada's transportation facilities are modern and well developed. They are concentrated in a relatively narrow band in the south, stretching from coast to coast.

Railways form the primary link, especially for freight, between eastern and western Canada. Freight service is provided largely by two giant transcontinental railway systems—Canadian National (CNR) and CP (Canadian Pacific) Rail. Both railways are privately owned and operated. There are also 30 regional railways. Intercity passenger service is provided by VIA Rail Canada, Inc., a government-sponsored corporation that took over CNR and CP passenger routes in 1977.

Extensive road and highway networks are maintained by both the federal government and the provincial governments. Modern four-lane highways are numerous in the densely settled regions of southern Ontario and Quebec. The Trans-Canada Highway, an all-weather route stretching coast to coast, was officially opened in 1962. The Alaska Highway, built during World War II, links Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and Fairbanks, Alaska.

For moving many of its goods, Canada has long depended heavily on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, which serve the large population and production centers. Use of these waterways was increased with the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, enabling oceangoing ships to enter the Great Lakes. Major canals are those on the St. Lawrence River above Montreal, the Welland, and the Sault Ste. Marie. Canada's chief ports are Montreal, on the St. Lawrence, and Vancouver, on the Pacific coast. The Inside Passage, running between the many islands along the British Columbia coast, provides a protected coastal route.

There are two major airlines in Canada, Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International. Both are privately owned and both fly domestic and international routes. Regional airlines also provide regular commercial service within Canada. In addition, small companies provide charter flights, many of them to remote areas in the north. Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver have the nation's busiest airports.

Communications. Radio and television broadcasting is largely by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), an agency of the federal government. The CBC operates separate English-language and French-language networks. Of the several privately owned television networks, CTV and TVA are the largest. Cable television is widely available. Many programs originating in the United States are received in Canada.

More than 100 privately and publicly owned telephone companies provide service in Canada. Nine are major regional systems, the largest of which is Bell Canada, operating primarily in Ontario and Quebec. Domestic long-distance and overseas telephone service is provided by Telecom Canada, an association of regional systems. Tele-sat Canada is the nation's domestic satellite operator. Teleglobe Canada provides international telecommunications services.

The Canadian postal service is operated by the federal government. Roughly 100 daily newspapers and hundreds of magazines and weekly newspapers are published in Canada. Most are printed in English; of those not in English, most are in French. The largest Canadian news service is the Canadian Press.

Foreign Trade

Canada produces many commodities primarily for export and is a prominent world trading nation. Unlike those of a few decades ago, most exports are manufactured or processed goods; raw materials as exports are declining. Most valuable among Canada's many exports are motor vehicles and parts, wood pulp, lumber, crude and refined petroleum, machinery, metals, aircraft, and telecommunications equipment.

Imports consist primarily of manufactured products. They include motor vehicles and parts, machinery, electronic equipment, and chemicals.

The United States is Canada's chief trade partner, generally accounting for nearly 85 per cent of Canada's exports by value, and a somewhat smaller percentage of its imports. Of particular significance is the trade in motor vehicles and parts across the United States border, mainly between Michigan and Ontario. There is also much trade with Great Britain and Japan.


Canada's basic currency unit is the Canadian dollar, which is made up of 100 cents.


Tourism has become a significant and increasing source of income in many parts of the country. Attractions include countless fishing, hunting, and camping areas; winter and summer resorts; scenic national and provincial parks. Also popular are Canada's major cities, the distinctive French towns of Quebec, and the picturesque fishing villages along the Atlantic coast.

Canada was largely a farming, lumbering, and fishing country until the early 1900's. It has since become a highly industrialized nation, with a standard of living comparable to that of the United States. Industrial output increased considerably during and after World War I. Spectacular economic growth followed World War II with the establishment of large-scale manufacturing and increased use of Canada's abundant natural resources.

Since World War II enormous investments by Canadians and by foreign corporations, many of them from the United States, have prompted much of the growth. During the 1950's and 1960's growth was most apparent in mining, manufacturing, transportation, communications, construction, and power—mostly hydroelectric. Since the 1970's, most growth has occurred in wholesale and retail trade and in industries that provide services to individuals, communities, and businesses.

Private enterprise predominates, although government plays major roles, directly or indirectly. Government, for example, owns some of the transportation and communications systems as well as some public utilities. It also has broad regulatory powers.

Economic production in Canada
Economic activities% of GDP producedNumber of workers% of all workers
Community, business, & personal services 205,120,40032
Finance, insurance, & real estate 20955,0006
Manufacturing 172,297,00014
Trade, restaurants, & hotels 143,510,40022
Transportation & communication 91,542,00010
Construction 6952,8006
Government 5829,2005
Mining 4285,7002
Utilities 2133,0001
Agriculture, forestry, & fishing 2324,1002
Total 10015,949,600100