The economy of Canada is notable for the great momentum shown in almost all sectors in the last decade. As far as agriculture is concerned, the cultivated area, calculated at 24 million ha in 1945 (3% of the territorial surface) has risen to more than 40 million (over 4%).
Half of the arable land is destined for cereals: for wheat the production now exceeds 125 million q per year (on the average of the last five years), for oats it is around 60 million q. For both of these products the area tends to contract, but the yield per hectare increases (12 q per hectare of wheat and over 13 q of oats in 1957 compared to 9 and 10 respectively ten years earlier). The cereal provinces par excellence are still Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Canada remains the largest wheat exporter in the world. In the Atlantic provinces, on the other hand, beet crops (1,250,000 quintals of sugar in 1957 compared to 742,000 in 1945), seed flax and tobacco are growing. Fruit growing is also undergoing considerable development; it has spread not only to Ontario, even outside the so-called Niagara Peninsula, but in British Columbia (apples, peaches, pears). The cultivation of vines, for fruit and for wine, is also expanding (250,000 hectoliters in 1957). Fruit and other industrial crops are benefiting from advances in irrigation in Alberta, Columbia and now also in Saskatchewan. For Canada 2010, please check programingplease.com.
Despite the intensive use, which is however now surrounded by caution, forests (35% of the entire surface) remain one of the main resources, both for the production and export of wood, and for that of cellulose and paper pulp (for newspapers); Canada supplies almost half of the world total (5,800,000 tons in 1957).
Compared to agriculture, which is gaining ground, livestock farming decreases in importance, if we look at the number of cattle: unchanged, around 10.4-10.5 million for cattle, decreasing for pigs and above all for sheep. Fishing maintains a prominent place in the Canadian economy, because, if a decline is recorded for the coastal waters of the Pacific, where salmon is decreasing, the income of Atlantic fisheries has instead increased with the aggregation of Newfoundland: the preparation of the canned cod and liver oil increased significantly. The fish product now reaches one million tons per year; 95,000 people are employed in fishing and related industries. The breeding of fur animals (first of all silver foxes, then minks, otters, beavers) continues to expand.
But the greatest momentum of the Canadian economy is manifested in the mining field, and it is mainly due to the rapid increase in the production of oil and natural gas. Oil, which was not among Canadian products in 1945, rose from 3,738,000 t in 1950 to 17,500,000 t in 1955 and to over 24,500,000 t in 1957 (22,368,000 t in 1958); natural gases from 2 billion m 3 in 1950 to 4.3 in 1955, to 9.6 billion in 1958.
By far the most important deposits are in Alberta (Turner Valley, the oldest; Leduc, Redwater); very long oil pipelines distribute crude oil to the major refineries which have also sprung up far from the places of production: oil pipeline from the Edmonton district to Superior in the United States then extended to Sarnia (2870 km); another pipeline from the same district to Vancouver 1150 km); pipelines from the Alberta-Saskatchewan border to the centers of eastern Canada (over 3500 km). Medicine Hat, called the Natural Gas City, has become famous for gas, but in general the fields are in the same areas as the oil fields.
For metallic ores, which are varied and large, Canada has maintained, indeed improved, its positions. This is true for nickel (first place in the world), for zinc, copper, lead, asbestos, while for iron a very considerable increase is due to the discovery of new rich deposits in areas previously unexplored from the point of of mining view, in central Labrador at Burnt Creek, at the western end of Ungawa Bay (Hopes Advance), also at Algoma and Steep Rock in Ontario, at Quinsam Lake in Vancouver Island. The Canada also took advantage of the purchase of the districts of Terranova. In 1958 about 15 million tons of iron ore were produced, equal to about 8 of metallic iron. Of great importance for the Canadian economy is also the production, very recent, of uranium and radium minerals, notable also because the major centers are in previously uninhabited and uninhabited localities of the northern Canada, where new centers now arise, such as Uranium City on Lake Athabaska, Port Radium on the Great Bear Lake, etc.; roads and railways are built, etc. For uranium, Canada has a world record, and its position is also eminent for other rare minerals, such as antimony, tungsten, molybdenum, cadmium, titanium. For platinum, Canada still holds the record, for gold it is in second place after the South African Union. The production of bauxite is absolutely deficient, but nevertheless the aluminum industry is very flourishing, which processes imported minerals.
As for energy sources, the production of hard coal is much lower than the needs; some fields are very rich, but of limited size and far (Alberta, British Columbia) from the major centers of consumption. It compensates for imports from the United States, and makes up for the production of electricity, now close to 100 million kWh (40% from Quebec and 30% and more from Ontario). It is mostly thermal energy; but following the grandiose works carried out on the San Lorenzo river, large quantities of water energy are now also made available. Recent plants also have in Manitou Falls, Winnipeg River, Nipirgon, etc. and in Columbia where numerous power plants use the waters of the Frazer.