Profiting the Crown: Canada’s Polymer Corporation, 1942-1990

Profitting the Crown

Matthew J. Bellamy

Polymer Corporation Ltd., Canada’s sole producer of synthetic rubber, played a critical and profitable role in the Canadian economy for over fifty years. From 1943 to 1945, Polymer produced the rubber necessary to keep Canada in the war. Later, as the cornerstone of Canada’s “chemical valley” in Sarnia, Ontario, Polymer exported its products all over the world, generating remarkable profits for the Crown and becoming the earliest example of Canadian state capitalism.

Crown corporations are widely regarded as a Canadian invention. Since 1841, they have been dexterously implemented and hotly debated as instruments of public policy. However the failures of a number of state-run enterprises in the twentieth century have led a majority of Canadians to conclude that government has no place in the boardrooms of the nation. Matthew Bellamy’s comprehensive account of Polymer’s rise and evolution contradicts this widely held position and brings to light the accomplishments of one of Canada’s pioneering crown corporations.

Matthew J. Bellamy is lecturer in economics and history at Carleton University and the co-author of Canada and the Cost of World War II.

This year’s finalists for the NBBA included:

  • Experience the Message: How Experiential Marketing is Changing the Brand World by Max Lenderman (McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)
  • Bud Inc.: Inside Canada’s Marijuana Industry by Ian Mulgrew (Random House of Canada)
  • Codfathers: Lessons from the Atlantic Business Elite by Gordon Pitts (Key Porter Books)

2006 Winner