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Submitted By luojiake
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As one of the earliest settlement areas in North America, the Maritime region has been an emblem of heritage roots throughout the course of Canadian history. Often referred to as a symbol of regional sovereignty, historians have labelled the Maritimes as a pioneer of the earliest commerce and trade activities. It is for this very reason that many have alluded to the Golden Ages of the Maritimes, a period marked by regional economic growth. With a pre-existing maturity in the fishing, logging, farming, and shipping industries, the technological improvements brought by industrialization at the turn of the 19th century led to the boom of industrial bases for steel and coal markets. This enabled the three provinces to capitulate their geographical advantage since the area was abundant in coal deposits, and lead to one of the wealthiest expansions in Maritime history. As Acheson famously points out, the local attitude was that despite transportation problems, it would still become the industrial centre of Canada because only it had commercially viable iron and coal deposits, and only it could control Montreal fuel resources. Why then, did the end of an era dominated by manufacturing lead to an economic stagnation that left a permanent imprint over the course of the century? Over the years, historians and economists alike have deemed a variety of factors as accountable for the general economic backwardness that prevailed. While some of these academic research pose contradictions amongst themselves, the general proposition is that the phenomenon was driven by a mixture of social economic rationalization, political incentives, and geographically inherent conditions. To shed more in-depth light on the analysis of the Maritime experience, a preliminary examination is required on the various proposals of when the downturn started. These different arguments on timing serve as the framework, and derive fundamentally different conclusions as the reasons causing the pecuniary difficulties. For instance, historian Kris Inwood claims the early decline of Maritime industry, finding signals that indicated the end of the boom era in 1870. T.W Acheson and Richard Caves, however, take on the converging view that the decline initiated in late 1880s, though their reasons differ. David Alexander is notable for claiming that earlier declines are side-effects of the global Long Depression, and that the Maritimes' backwardness was only relative, since the rest of Canada benefited more from the boom of the early 1900s compared to the region. Perhaps the most controversial view is posed by E.R Forbes, who claims that the downturn was due to poorly implemented post-war railway policies as late as 1919. These differing opinions on timing lead to diverging views on the root causes, all of which may be classified into two general categories. One conceptual perspective examining the regional differences on manufacturing is known as Structuralism. This associates Maritime development with loss of local control over political and economic decision-making. Employing a policy-based approach, advocates of Structuralism argue that Maritime backwardness is due to a series of government policies that are unfavourable to the region. Economic stagnation in this sense is due to external factors, and the resulting consequences may have been avoided. On the other hand, the Staples Theory claim that economic production is largely dependent on geographical and technological conditions surrounding the environment. In line with Innis' Staples Thesis, this school of thought attributes Maritime backwardness to inherent factors beyond the region's control, and employs a less critical and more passive view on the government's role. As supporters of Structuralism have noted, significant contributors to the declining Maritimes industries are government policies. Inwood claims that “an inward-looking or continentalist Central Canada dominated the political union and established