Although industry is now the predominant branch of activity, agriculture retains a great importance in the Canadian economy; it contributes 9% to the net income produced and 12% to the value of exports (1971). It is estimated that forests occupy 48% of the land area, while less than 8% is used for agricultural activities; the remaining surface remains unproductive due to the enormous extension of the tundras and ice to the north. According to the 1971 census, there were 366,128 agricultural workers, but the figure is lacking. In addition to traditional cereal crops and extensive farming, which is still the cornerstone of agriculture today, the breeding of fur animals and fruit (apples) are growing rapidly. For Canada 2013, please check physicscat.com.
The cultivation of wheat contracted slightly (120-130 million q in 1970-72); the production of other cereals (barley and oats above all, 90 and 60 million q respectively) is always considerable. Fruit development continued in Columbia Brit. and by the great lakes; in the temperate Niagara Peninsula, in addition to grapevines, horticulture has taken hold. Soybeans expanded in Ontario (140,000 ha and nearly 3 million qq 1970-71), along with tobacco, which is also present in southern Quebec. The three prairie provinces continue to be strong producers of cereals, but while for wheat Saskatchewan exceeds the production of the rest of the country combined, followed closely by Alberta and Manitoba, Alberta has the primacy for the oats and barley.
Gigantic barrage works on the St. Mary, Waterton and Belly rivers in Alberta are nearing completion: they will ensure irrigation of over 200,000 ha; 120,000 ha are already irrigated in Columbia Brit., And another 200,000 will be irrigated in Saskatchewan, once the network of adductor channels from the dams on the river of the same name is completed.
The other three great and traditional resources of Canada, livestock, timber and fishing retain an important role. In some areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan, wild farming is still practiced on a large scale, but elsewhere it is subsidiary to agriculture.
Beef cattle were 10.5 million in 1972 and dairy cows 2.2 million; the three provinces of the prairies and Ontario have the primacy of cattle, as well as that of pigs and sheep. Poultry farming is widespread and conspicuous (101 million chickens and turkeys in 1972) and egg production. The dairy industry, starting from 1960, showed a strong tendency towards centralization, so that the number of farms was halved and production increased (1970: 8.4 million tons of milk, 1.7 of butter and 1, 1 of cheese). Fur animals have growing importance: in 1970-71 in Canada 3 million wild fur animals were captured, mainly beavers, and then seals, lynxes, foxes, minks, for a value of 13 million dollars. But minks,
Nearly half of Canada’s forests can yield marketable timber, mostly soft pulp for newspaper pulp; from 1965 to 1972 production fluctuated around 100 million m 3, subject as it is to strict state control. Fishing now supplies 1.3 to 1.5 million tonnes per year; the product has therefore grown by 30% compared to the annual average of fifteen years ago.
The recent development of the mining and manufacturing industry has been enormous. Canada ranks third in the world for the riches of the subsoil, after the United States and the Soviet Union. In the field of metallic minerals, Canada has long held numerous world records, but above all the extent of the colossal reserves must be considered given that the exploitation is very recent compared to other traditional mining regions in the world. In addition to the huge productions of nickel, iron, coal, uranium, copper, asbestos, sulfur, zinc and gold, great importance is assuming the hydrocarbon resources, extracted in Alberta but now also in Columbia Brit. and North (Mackenzie River Basin), in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (95 million tonnes of oil and 100 million m 3of methane, average 1972-73); production is constantly and strongly increasing. The trans-Canada pipeline is the longest in the world (5,700 km), connecting the central plains to Montreal. The production of electricity is also substantial, growing sharply year by year in support of the industry (in 1972, installed power of 46,675,733 kW, of which 66% hydroelectric, against 39,548,000 in 1970; in 1970 produced over 200 million kWh).
The steel industry, metallurgy in general and mechanics (motor vehicles and agricultural machinery) are in strong expansion; recent development of the aeronautical industry (31,000 employees in 1970) and of the electrotechnical and electronic industry. All the other manufacturing branches are constantly growing, concentrated along the San Lorenzo River, on the great lakes, along the rivers of the prairies and on the Pacific coast. The traditional, widespread food industry (processing of agricultural, livestock and fishing products) and the processing of forest products provide more than a third of the total income. The already important chemical industry is now powerful (Columbia and Ontario), as are the refining of hydrocarbons and petrochemicals. In the textile branch, the processing of synthetic fibers has considerable importance.
The massive recent industrialization has stimulated internal migrations, in favor of the already massive urbanization and the birth of new urban centers; it has also caused the very rapid growth of smaller towns. The tertiary branch of activity has risen considerably, in connection with industrial development. However, at the end of 1972, the labor force was estimated at 8.4 million people (about 500,000 unemployed).
The air vehicle has almost completely replaced the railway over medium and long distances: the Canadian airlines carried 12.5 million passengers in 1971. Car transport, both individual and collective, has had great development over short and medium distances (6.8 million cars and 1.8 million heavy vehicles in 1971).
The annual income per resident is among the highest in the world. The main economic partner for some time is no longer the United Kingdom (and not even the whole Commonwealth put together): almost 70% of the trade movement takes place with the United States.
The enhancement of the immense northern territories, potentially very rich but distant and anecumenical, will represent the future of Canada. The country has the onerous task of wisely administering those colossal resources, avoiding the rapid destruction and degradation of the natural heritage, which would have very serious consequences for the entire planet.