Date of Award

Winter 5-1-2018

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Thesis Location

Honors College Thesis

Degree Name



Honors College

Faculty Advisor

Marsha Richmond


“A Comparison of the Development of the Salt Industries in Michigan and Ontario” examines the development of the salt production industry in these two sub-national regions. They derive salt from the same deposit and historically have used very similar methods of mineral extraction, but due to the political differences between the United States and Canada, the trajectories of their growth have been different. The salt industry, which coalesced in the middle of the 19th century, was heavily impacted by the growing forces of capitalism and protectionism (particularly directed by the American interests toward the Canadian manufacturers), and by the impediments of international trade. Salt production in the North American Great Lakes region was also dependent for survival on other industries – first on lumber manufacturing, then on chemical production. However, as underground rock salt mines were created in the 20th century, the economic situations in both countries allowed salt production to become independent for the first time. Although the U.S. industry nearly drove Canadian salt out of business in the late 19th century, in the second half of the 20th century, the mine in Goderich, Ontario, outperformed the mine in Detroit, Michigan, contributing to the greater awareness of the industry in Ontario than in Michigan. The similar but differing paths of these two industries give an informative picture of the ways political boundaries can influence economic development.