The great wheat/investment boom, the Winnipeg construction industry, 1896-1914

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Gray, Mavis E.
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The 18 years preceding World War I were years of tremendous growth for Canada, and are often referred to as "the wheat boom." In accordance with the staple theory, the boom was attributed to the production and export of wheat, but a number of authors have examined the matter and concluded that the boom was actually due to a high rate of investment. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of the construction industry in Winnipeg in the context of the boom, and to trace the connections between the staple (wheat), investment, and the construction industry. The development of Winnipeg as a regional centre and the role of the construction industry in that development, as well as the development of the construction industry itself, are also of interest. The growth of Winnipeg is described, as well as some of the implications of the growth of the staple, especially for Winnipeg in its role as the regional centre. Also described are some of the spin-off effects of capital formation for the construction industry, in particular for the output, employment, and industrial structure of the industry. Estimates of the employment in the industry, and of the weekly and annual wage bills, are included. Finally, the conclusion is that the available evidence supports the view that the boom was an investment boom, that the construction industry in Winnipeg made a significant contribution to the boom, and that the industry was greatly changed by the time the boom ended.