Economic growth in Canada and the United Kingdom between 1695 and 1739

When the French decided to settle Canada, they decided to establish a system of property rights that … well…wasn’t really a system of private property rights. The land holding system as defined under the “Coutume de Paris” was feudal in nature.  It was a segneurial system under which the land owner was a seigneur who would rent parcels to settlers. These settlers were called censitaires and they did not possess the land and they not had to pay their cens et rentes for the land the use of common installations like a windmill or watermill. It would be false to assume that there was a unified legal construct that regulated this feudal system of land holding. Seigneuries were rarely traded formally, in fact, one must wonder whether a market for land truly existed. It seems like there was an informal market for a time, but measures were enacted in 1711 to put an end to it.

Moreover, the monetary system was based on … playing cards. The money supply would only come at spring via the St-Lawrence River in the form of a ship filled with currency. Problem was that the governor had to pay his administrators and troops with something, so he took the playing cards in the province, signed them and promised to repay them. Sadly, they could not all be redeemed. This occured on many occasions and only ended once the British took control of the Province.

Hence, let us ask ourselves how did Canada perform economically at the time relative  to other places in the world. I have not been able to find a data set for France – the mother country with regards to GDP. But I did find a data set for Canada (published by Morris Altman in the William and Mary Quartely) and for the United Kingdom (on MeasuringWorth.Com). Here is the result and I am not sure what to make of it at this point, it does seem that Canada was not seriously disadvantaged economically by the French system. If anyone knows data for the United States or/and France for the same period, please tell me. Otherwise, this is interesting and has not been made as of now.


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