Capital, Labour and Lumber in A.R.M. Lower’s Woodyard : James MacLaren and the Changing Forest Economy, 1850-1906

Type of resource
Capital, Labour and Lumber in A.R.M. Lower’s Woodyard : James MacLaren and the Changing Forest Economy, 1850-1906
The author examines the career of James MacLaren (1818-1892) and his role in the succession of economies in West Quebec, from fur to lumber, to land speculation and to pioneer sawmilling. MacLaren was also a merchant capitalist and President of the Bank of Ottawa. The author points out that MacLaren used kinship capital pools and strategic business alliances to rise to the position of independent capitalist lumberman and Bank president. The labour institutions upon which his business was based, the shanty and the timber cove, were anchored to a web of household economies, both urban and rural. Families drew on monthly shanty wages. The shanty was common ground for small kin-groups of local farm workers, urban sawmiil workers, migrant workers, and a core of professional lumberers, resident in Ottawa. MacLaren's cove in Quebec City also accommodated rural workers amid numerous small non-union strikes. The author also points out that across the Quebec City harbour, timber ship labourers, divided over ethnicity and technology, coalesced violently into one of the country's strongest unions. As industrial lumber barges replaced rafts, sawmills replaced coves as export points. MacLaren used both to sell to British and U.S. markets simultaneously, expanding his investments into Vermont and New York. His capital was redeployed in resource developments, such as mining and railways, or local real estate. His connections were with American investors or competitors - Cleveland steel elites or the House of Morgan. The Bank of Ottawa, built upon his gathering of local groupings of capital, eventually found regional identity a hindrance in raising capital. Unable to make inroads into other markets, it merged with the Bank of Nova Scotia.
PhD dissertation
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON
Hammond, Lorne F. “Capital, Labour and Lumber in A.R.M. Lower’s Woodyard : James MacLaren and the Changing Forest Economy, 1850-1906.” PhD dissertation, University of Ottawa, 1994.
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