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1945-1970

Social and Historic Context

A period of prosperity and openness to the world

In the wake of the Second World War, the reconstruction of Europe and strong demand for American goods stimulated industrial development in Canada. The natural resources sector was booming, in particular pulp and paper, mining and hydroelectricity. The federal government implemented measures to stimulate full employment. However, strikes and labour conflicts abounded. The middle class was growing stronger and purchasing power among families was on the rise.

Economic development in Canada was based on regional dynamics, for example, the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes and, in 1965, the Canada-United States Automotive Products Agreement for the economic prosperity of the central region. Cultural and social contexts also differed on a regional basis. In reaction to the control exercised by the clergy, society in Quebec began a process of deconfessionalization and the modernization of its institutions. In other provinces, the plurality of religious denominations had prevented the clergy from exercising monolithic authority.

The Duplessis Government supported major American and English Canadian investors in the exploitation of Quebec's natural resources.

At the end of the 1950s, the will for change took precedence. It was the beginning of the Quiet Revolution.

Between 1960 and 1966, a series of reforms resulted in the government taking over education, health and social affairs, sectors formerly presided over by the Church. Structures were renewed and their access democratized.

The 1960s were marked by a wave of government investment in the manufacturing industry and residential construction.

The state invested massively in the construction of government buildings and schools as well as the modernization of road infrastructures. Major projects stimulated the economy and heightened national pride: the Montréal metro (1966), the Montréal World Fair (1967) and the Manic 5 dam (1968).

Urban layout was also changing: new cities were forming around major centres. Bedroom communities were expanding, increasing the number of vehicles in circulation and the building of new roads and bridges.