Dominion of Capital: The Politics of Big Business and the Crisis of the Canadian Bourgeoisie, 1914-1947

Dominion of Capital: The Politics of Big Business and the Crisis of the Canadian Bourgeoisie, 1914-1947

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By Don Nerbas
Canadian Social History Series
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
404 Pages 14 Images
ISBN 9781442613522
Published Jul 2013
Online discount: 15%
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ISBN 9781442645455
Published Jul 2013
Online discount: 25%
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442662810
Published Dec 2013
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Full purchase $35.95

In the critical decades following the First World War, the Canadian political landscape was shifting in ways that significantly recast the relationship between big business and government. As public pressures changed the priorities of Canada’s political parties, many of Canada’s most powerful businessmen struggled to come to terms with a changing world that was less sympathetic to their ideas and interests than before. Dominion of Capital offers a new account of relations between government and business in Canada during a period of transition between the established expectations of the National Policy and the uncertain future of the twentieth century.

Don Nerbas tells this fascinating story through close portraits of influential business and political figures of this period – including Howard P. Robinson, Charles Dunning, Sir Edward Beatty, R.S. McLaughlin, and C.D. Howe – that provide insight into how events in different sectors of the economy and regions of the country shaped the political outlook and strategies of the country’s business elite. Drawing on business, political, social, and cultural history, Nerbas revises standard accounts of government-business relations in this period and sheds new light on the challenges facing big business in early twentieth-century Canada.

Don Nerbas is an assistant professor in the Department of History and Culture at Cape Breton University.

Canadian Capital in the Age of Empire

Part One: Big Business from Triumph to Crisis

Chapter One
Provincial Man of Mystery:
Howard P. Robinson and the Politics of Capital in New Brunswick

Chapter Two
Charles A. Dunning:
A Progressive in Business and Politics

Chapter Three
The Dilemma of Democracy:
Sir Edward Beatty, the Railway Question, and National Government

Part Two: Continentalism and the Managerial Ethic

Chapter Four
Stewardship and Dependency:
Sam McLaughlin, General Motors, and the Labour Question

Chapter Five
Engineering Canada:
C.D. Howe and Canadian Big Business

Après le déluge


Dominion of Capital is a fresh, innovative, and exciting study that makes use of an extensive and diverse range of sources to provide a much richer and deeper analysis of business-state relations from the 1920s to the 1940s than we have previously had. Adding a great deal of new information to earlier work, Don Nerbas takes the discussion of business-state relations to new levels of analytical sophistication. His book will doubtless be appreciated by scholars in political, economic, business, labour, and social history. Thanks to its highly engaging biographical approach, non-academic readers will also find it quite interesting.”

Craig Heron, Department of History, York University

Dominion of Capital makes a significant empirical contribution to our knowledge of twentieth-century Canadian history. The scholarship is solid and up-to-date and the narrative case studies are a joy to read. ”

Gregory P. Marchildon, Canada Research Chair in Public Policy and Economic History, and Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina

‘This book will appeal to a wide range of scholars and students of history, political science, and business offering them a fresh perspective of historical developments that shaped an evolving relationship between capitalists and government during the twentieth century.’

Dustin Galer, Histoire sociale / Social History; vol 47:92:2014

‘This important contribution will be read with great profit by those both in and outside of Canada…The aims and goal here are laudable, the Dominion of Capital makes a great contribution to telling the story of the emergence of Canada’s more continental (branch plants and American investment) and mixed (with nationalized railways, for example) economy by the 1950s.’

Anastakis, American Historical Review October 2014

‘Don Nerbas has produced a lively work capable of appealing to undergraduates and the general public.’

Andrew Smith, Canadian Historical Review, vol 95:02:2014

‘Nerbas’ volume is an important, thought-provoking contribution to our understanding of Canadian economic and business history in a neglected field of study.’

Hugh Grant, Labour/Le Travail vol 74:2013