For a great many Canadians in rural areas, agriculture was a full-time occupation, and for the others a way of helping to feed the family or making a little income on the side. Before the establishment of agricultural colleges in the middle of the 19th century, only a few books were published to teach children the principles of agriculture (see the section on Children's Literature and Education). Even then, most people believed that being raised on a farm was enough to make anyone a good farmer. Later in the century, and certainly during the 20th century when agriculture became a large business, publications concerning new methods or new crops became more plentiful.
As in the case of agriculture, most trades were learned on the job and not from books, and it was not uncommon for Canadians to hold two or three jobs to make ends meet. The books exhibited here include mathematical tables used by lumber merchants, accountants, and owners of small businesses. The development of manufacturing and retailing called for skills such as stenography, the ability to compute wages, profit margins and interest rates, along with the books and manuals needed to both acquire and use these capabilities. As the economy grew, broadsides advertising manufactured goods, agricultural products, and land sales became common sights in market areas and storefronts.
|Unlike most almanacs, which contained only general information, this one was intended for farmers, and included a long article on the wool industry, potato farming, and of course the plea for temperance. Next to each month, were printed memorandum pages which the owner of this copy used to record the weather.|
||The Canadian Farmers' Almanac, for the Year of Our Lord 1836...
Sherbrooke and Stanstead, L[ower] C[anada]: Walton & Gaylord, .
|An advertisement from a distributor of horse-drawn farm machinery located at St. Gabriel Locks in Montreal in 1857. To enhance its ad, the company used a wood engraving by John Henry Walker (1831-1899) who had recently established his business in Montreal. Walker also provided numerous illustrations for periodicals and magazines.|
Combined Mowing and Reaping Machines...: Farmers, Send Your Orders Early...
The Miller's Canadian Farmers Almanac was printed by John Lovell in Montreal in editions of 30 000 copies in the 1860s and of up to 60 000 copies in the 1870s. It was distributed by many bookstores and stationers in Quebec and Ontario such as John Drurie in Ottawa, and Larmonth & Macarthur in St. Andrew. These "publishers" would have wrappers and title pages specially printed with their name and advertisements, but most of the text remained the same. It was a very popular publication since many households, although not earning their living by farming, were either growing vegetables, or had farm animals.
Copy belonging to Eléazar Hays, notary public, and it seems gentleman farmer. For the month of March, Hays has entries concerning his chickens, the first anniversary of his father's death, and the battle of Sebastopol.
R. & A. Miller's Canadian Farmers Almanac for the Year of Our Lord 1855.
Montreal: R. & A. Miller, .
At the time, the Almanach Rolland was the most popular almanac among the Francophone population of Canada. With the increase in city population, this almanac not only targeted the farmers' market, but also the whole of the French-speaking population. It even contained short stories by well-known local writers such as Rodolphe Girard – author of Marie Calumet. There were also adds promoting certain concepts of beauty, including one aimed "at skinny and weak men and women of Canada and the United States."
Almanach Rolland, agricole, commercial et des familles de la Compagnie J-B. Rolland & Fils. 1913. Quarante-septième année.
[Montreal]: En vente chez tous les libraires et les principaux marchands, . 224 p.
A key figure in the development of agriculture, William Rennie was the founder of the company which provided agricultural and horticultural seeds to all of Canada from 1870 to 1961. In his book, Rennie described scientific methods which could improve greatly the yield of the farms. A new type of farming had begun.
William Rennie, 1835-1910
Successful Farming: How to Farm for Profit, the Latest Methods. Revised edition.
Toronto: W. Rennie's Sons, 1915. 254 p.