In 1955 The Department of Citizenship and Immigration produced this colourful map (which we recently bought on eBay) highlighting ‘100 new resources that will help make Canada’s future bright and prosperous.’
As it turned out, some projections were spot on, while others were wildly optimistic. We’ve selected a few of the 100 items and updated them below.
The numbers and text in bold are taken directly from the map. Scroll down to see what happened. For more, click to see a larger version of the map, and to download a PDF of the original text for the ‘100 new resources.’
1. “Aklavik, possible site of an atomic-powered electric generating station.”
What happened: Obviously there are no nuclear power plants in the territories. A year after the map was produced, northern affairs minister Jean Lesage was asked in the House of Commons if atomic energy was coming to the North. “The [Northwest Territories Power] Commission can supply electricity, even in Aklavik, by the use of coal and oil much cheaper than it can by using atomic energy plants.” Besides, within a couple of years, flooding and land erosion led the federal government to move much of the population from Aklavik to the new community of Inuvik.
26. “World-famous Beaverlodge uranium camp, many companies active, expansion planned”
What happened: At its peak, 16 mines operated in the area, with the nearby boomtown of Uranium City growing to 10,000 people. However, by the ’80s, the mines were shut down and today Uranium City is a ghost town of fewer than 200.
28. “Athabasca tar sands—North America’s largest reserve of petroleum, awaiting economic development”
What happened: Apparently the map’s creators didn’t get the time-machine memo from 2015 Ottawa that only “radical” environmentalists use the term tar sands. The oil-soaked region around Fort McMurray would have to wait a few decades, but it’s lived up to expectations, making Canada the world’s fourth-largest oil producer.
34. “Major potash deposits under development near Saskatoon”
What happened: It would take 50 years before Saskatchewan got its potash boom. But after Potash Corp. briefly became Canada’s most valuable company in 2008—with the country’s highest-paid CEO—potash prices tanked.
46. “Canada’s greatest resource—her people. Population: 16,000,000; rapidly growing”
What happened: Canada’s population has kept on expanding, hitting 35.5 million this year. The growth is no longer so rapid, though. In the mid-’50s Canada’s population grew by around three per cent a year, a pace that’s since fallen to one per cent and dropping.
60. “$100-million expansion of two steel mills in Hamilton”
What happened: One mill, Dominion Foundries (Dofasco), was bought out by an Indian-controlled steel multinational in 2006. It remains profitable and is growing. The other, Stelco, was acquired by a U.S.-controlled steel multinational in 2007, is in bankruptcy protection and once again on the block.
77. “$40-million 2-mile vehicular tunnel planned from Quebec to Lévis”
What happened: The tunnel never got built, but the Lévis Chamber of Commerce is still hopeful it will happen. “The tunnel will benefit society and create wealth for the region.” A 1999 study estimated the tunnel would cost $750 million to build.
78. “St. Lawrence Seaway project: 27-ft. canal will open Great Lakes to 85 per cent of world’s shipping.”
What happened: The route opened in 1960 and, over the next two decades, annual traffic grew from 31 million tonnes of cargo to 74 million. However, today’s ocean-going container ships are too large for the seaway, while competition from rail has increased. Last year, less than 40 million tonnes of cargo made its way through the seaway.
80. “$1,000 million [$1 billion] development under survey on Hamilton River. Potential 7 million hp. of electricity, mine, smelting and forest operations.”
What happened: Known today as the Churchill Falls hydroelectric power station, the project was completed in the 1970s—capable of churning out enough power to light up three Montreal-sized cities and decades of rancour between Newfoundland and Quebec.
92. “$30-million oil refinery built at Halifax. Canada is second in oil refineries in the free world.”
What happened: Canada has since lost its refining crown. Depending on what one considers the “free world,” Canada now ranks ninth or tenth. America is No. 1, with refinery capacity of 18 million barrels a day, roughly nine times greater than Canada.
99. “$60 million for world’s largest transatlantic telephone cable built by Canada, U.S.A., U.K.”
What happened: TAT-1 started carrying phone calls in 1956 and did so without fail until it was decommissioned in 1978. Calls weren’t cheap—a three-minute chinwag across the pond cost about $100 in today’s funds.
The map didn’t have anything to say about the flow of money, goods and services between Canada and the U.S., but the illustrated tug-of-war applies just as well today.