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1. Gheller, Frantz. Geopolitics, State-Formation and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario.

Degree: PhD, Political Science, 2015, York University

This dissertation challenges the prevailing periodization of Quebec and Ontario’s economic development in Canadian historiography by contrasting the specificity of capitalist social relations with the non-capitalist forms of social reproduction belonging to French Canadian peasants and Upper Canadian farmers in the colonial period. With a few notable exceptions, existing historical interpretations assume that capitalism was there, at least in embryo, from the colony’s very beginning in the guise of the fur trade, manufacturing, or a local bourgeoisie. By contrast, this thesis brings together, through a comparative perspective, different pieces of the interconnected histories of France, Britain, the United States, Ontario, and Quebec in order to show that capitalism did not arrive on the shores of the St. Lawrence River with the first settlers. The dissertation also brings together pieces of the uneven intra-regional histories of these regions, and provides a general reflection on how to systematically integrate the geopolitical dimension of social change into historical sociology, political economy, and comparative politics. As such, the question with which the thesis is concerned is not exclusively that of the transition to capitalism in Quebec or in Ontario, but more broadly the interrelated questions of state-formation and ‘late development’ in north-eastern North America. One of the main findings of the dissertation is that only with the development of industrial capitalism in the north-eastern United States were the conditions for the emergence of capital-intensive types of agriculture in rural areas of Quebec and Ontario put in place. American breakthroughs toward industrial capitalism irrevocably transformed the system-wide conditions under which subsequent agricultural evolution took place in neighbouring regions, generating a new geopolitical configuration in which customary peasant production continued to persist in Quebec alongside petty-commodity farmers in Upper Canada and the development of industrial capitalism in urban areas such as Montreal. These findings bring to the fore the need to directly address the ‘peasant question’ in order to understand the impact of the continued existence of a large peasantry on state-formation and the long-term economic development of Quebec during the period when industrial capitalism was emerging as a dominant feature of the North American economy. Advisors/Committee Members: Lacher, Hannes P. (advisor).

Subjects/Keywords: Political Science; Canadian history; Agriculture economics; Political science; International relations; Historical sociology; Agrarian political economy; Agrarian change; Peasant question; Agrarian question; Late development; Capitalism; Capitalist agriculture; Agriculture; Canadian politics; Canadian history; Agriculture economics; Transition to capitalism; Political Marxism; Social-property relations; Atlantic history; New World; Colonial state formation; Colonialism; State formation; Colony; North America; Quebec; Ontario; Farmers; Peasants; Comparison; Comparative perspective; Comparative methodology; Comparative sociology; State; Absolutism; Feudalism; Absolutist state; Capital-intensive; Petty commodity production; Petty commodity producers; Independent household production; Independent household producers; Staple; Fur trade; Wheat; Dairy; Capital; Upper Canada; Lower Canada; New France; French Canadians; St Lawrence River; St Lawrence Valley; Great Lakes; Canada; Capitalist social relations; Non-capitalist social relations; Socioeconomic development; Canadian historiography; Periodization; Settlers; Settlement; Land; Land tenure; Property; Rural areas; Countryside; Industrialization; Industrial capitalism; Agricultural revolution; Subsistence; Customs; Peasantry; North American economy; Mercantilism; Commercialization; Commerce; Culture; Strategy of reproduction; Strategies of reproduction; Territorialization; Frontier; Canadian provinces; Trade; Territory; Rebellions; American revolution; American capitalism; Uneven development; Uneven and combined development; Church; Catholic Church; Immigration; Rural exodus; Seigneuries; Seigneurial regime; Seigneurial system; Sociology; History; Politics; Class struggle; Social conflict; Resistance; Political institutions; State forms; Open-field system; Agrarian capitalism; Improvement; Market dependence; Market dependency; Market; Means of production; Labour; Offices; Ruling class; Familial reproduction; Division of labour; Transition debate; Geopolitics; Capitalist production; Merchants; Merchant capital; Peasant society; Improved farming; Sales system; Agricultural crisis

…75 The Seigneurial Regime in New France… …140 The Reinforcement of the Seigneurial Regime… …182 The Sales System of Reserve Lands… …219 The St. Lawrence/Great Lakes Commercial System… …seigneurial regime. By contrast, in Ontario, farmers were not politically subjected to another class… 

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APA (6th Edition):

Gheller, F. (2015). Geopolitics, State-Formation and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario. (Doctoral Dissertation). York University. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Gheller, Frantz. “Geopolitics, State-Formation and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario.” 2015. Doctoral Dissertation, York University. Accessed December 11, 2019.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Gheller, Frantz. “Geopolitics, State-Formation and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario.” 2015. Web. 11 Dec 2019.


Gheller F. Geopolitics, State-Formation and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. York University; 2015. [cited 2019 Dec 11]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Gheller F. Geopolitics, State-Formation and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario. [Doctoral Dissertation]. York University; 2015. Available from: