Harvest on the Farm
Rural Ontario 1890 – 1930
Until the final decade of the 1800s, farming remained the mainstay of the province’s economy and society. Between 1871 and 1931, the population of Ontario grew from 1.62 to 3.32 million people. It was predominantly in the cities, towns and villages that this increase took place. By 1911 the census of Canada clearly shows that Ontario was dominated by urban-dwelling families. By 1911, the increase of city populations was clearly reflected in the declining numbers of farm employees. Farm employment in Ontario had witnessed a decrease that was in excess of 30,000 people. People, young and not so young, had stopped working on the land. That number would drop as many as another 15,000 persons by the year 1921.
While the number of people living and working on the land saw substantial decreases in the 1890s and early 1900s, farming itself actually improved. In terms of the amount of acreage being worked on each farm, more land was cleared and brought into productive use. During this same period, more crops were planted than in earlier decades and livestock products were steadily promoted and sold by Ontario farmers. Mechanization played a significant role in the progress of farming throughout the province.