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THE POPULATION POSSIBILITIES OF CANADA DIAMOND JENNESS W ORKING with data compiled just before the war by the International Institute of Agriculture in Rome, Professor East computed that it required about 2.2. acres of cultivated l.and to feed each person in western Europe, where the production per acre was greater than in the United States or Canada and the standard of living less high. Surveying the world as a whole, he estimated that it would require at least 2.5 acres of arable land per capita to permit of a standard of living approaching that of today in the United States. Then, calculating the maximum potential area of arable land in Canada at ISo,ooo,ooo acres, and assuming that whatever food were exported would be balanced by an equal quantity imported, he obtained as the maximum population that Canada may eventually support.a total of 6o,ooo,ooo people.1 There has never been an accurate survey of Canada to Estimated Possible Farm Land Prince Edward Island....... 1,258,190 acres Nova Scotia............... 8,092,000 " New Brunswick............ 10,718,000 " Quebec......... . ... ..... ..43,745,000 " Ontario.. ...... .... .. ..... 56,450,000. " Manitoba.................24,700,000 " Saskatchewan ........ : .....93,458,000 " Alberta. .......... . .. ......97,123,000. " British Columbia. . ...... ...22,618,000 " Total. ..... . .......358,162,190 acres Occupied as Farm Land 1921 1,216,483 acres 4,723,550 .. 4,269,560 " 17,257,012 " 22,628,901 " 14,615,844 " 44,022,907 " 29,293,053 " 2.J860,593 149,887,903 acres ' East, E. M. Mankind at the Crossroads, New York, 1923, pp. 70(, 86: The per capita acrea.ge required by the different European countries were, Germany, 2.0; France, 2.3; Italy, 2.4; Belgium, 1.7. THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY determine the exact amount of its arable land and the varying grades of soil, but the Canada Year Book for 1924 and following years offers the foregoing table of what it terms farm land. Now 3so,ooo,ooo acres is a very imposing figure. It is more. than double East's estimate of our arable land; it exceeds the total acreage sown in wheat by all the countries of the world combined. But is the estimate reliable? The amounts attributed to Saskatchewan and Alberta seem suspiciously high, for these and other provinces contain enormous areas of imperfectly mapped lands whose reserves are hardly known. Quite recently, the National Development Bureau of the Department of the Interior, Ottawa, made an independent estimate. It divided the incompletely surveyed parts of each province into lots, and hazarded for each lot a rough determination of the proportion of farm land by checking the descriptions of survey parties and miscellaneous travellers against maps and figures showing the altitudes, rainfall and length of the growing season. The figures it obtained in this way diverge widely from those of the Year Book: Estimate of Possible Farm Land, Compiled by the National Development Bureau about 1928 Prince Edward Island ........ . Nova Scotia................ . New Brunswick............. . Quebec..................... . Ontario............ __. ...... . Manitoba. __ ...... _..... _.. . Saskatchewan.......... __ ... . Alberta.. _......... , ..... . . . British Columbia............ . 1,200,000 acres 5,000,000 " 10,000,000 " 40,000,000 " 55,000,000 " 25,000,000 " 60,000,000 " 72,000,000 " 22,000,000 " Total. ................ 290,200,000 acres I f I I THE POPULATION POSSIBILITIES OF CANADA Thus at the very outset of our enquiry we find ourselves squarely on the horns of a dilemma; for no investigation of the population possibilities of the Dominion can have the slightest value unless it is directly based on the area of cultivable land. Of the three estimates that have been presented to us, which are we to take? If we reject all of them our enquiry immediately falls to the ground, for we could not make a new estimate at the present time without traversing exactly the same ground as the officials of theNational Development Bureau whose estimates we had deliberately thrown overboard. East's figure is not really comparable with the other two, because it relates only to the land that can be laid under the plough, whereas what is called farm land always includes a considerable proportion that is not arable.2 On what...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 387-423
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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