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From the day the first Europeans set foot on Canadian soil, the country’s resources have been the core of its development.
First, fur traders endured danger and deprivation to explore the vast wilderness; they were followed by forestry workers who wrestled huge logs to tidewater.
Then came hardy settlers, who turned soil frozen for half the year into a breadbasket of the world, thus creating the driving force behind the most important project in Canadian history, the building of a national railway.
Steam locomotives require large amounts of coal, which spurred Canada’s first underground mines. In 1883, during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, nickel-copper ore was discovered near Sudbury, launching a huge metals mining development. That same year, thousands of kilometres to the west, the railway helped launch Alberta’s petroleum industry when a well drilled to supply water for steam locomotives struck natural gas.
It would be another five decades before production from Alberta’s first major oil field began, in 1936 at Turner Valley.
Remarkably, what has become Canada’s most notable oil resource was discovered 158 years earlier when, in 1778, fur trader Peter Pond became the first European to witness bitumen seeping from oil sands along the banks of the Athabasca River. He learned that natives had long mixed that bitumen with pine tar to seal their canoes.
Canada’s rich endowment of resources remains fundamental to the prosperity that makes this country one of the best places in the world to live.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/investment-in-resources-being-stymied-by-vocal-minority/article16200085/#dashboard/follows/