Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Immigration History of Canada




[The text below was written in 1948. For the full citation, see the end of the document. For a discussion of French-Canadian emigration to the United States, consult this article.]

In 1534 Jacques Cartier made his way through the gulf of. St. Lawrence and reached the shores of Canada , of which he took possession in the name of the king of France. On a second voyage in 1535 he sailed up the St. Lawrence river and reached Quebec. Several attempts were made in the years following to establish French settlements, none of which met with success. The first serious attempt at colonization was made by Champlain, who in 1604 established a colony at Port Royal which met with many vicissitudes. The French interest in North America at this time was rather that of trade and the extension of empire than of active colonization. France was supreme from the Atlantic to the Great lakes, along the Mississippi valley, and throughout the Louisiana territory. In fact, it might be said that French authority held sway from the gulf of St. Lawrence over all the territory west of the English settlements to the Rocky mountains . In spite of control over this vast area, however, the French inhabitants of North America in 1763, when the territory was ceded to Great Britain , numbered only about 65,000.


In the earlier years of the French occupation of this territory, authority was vested in companies such as the Rouen Company, the Montmorency Company, and the Company of New France, or of the One Hundred Associates. The earlier companies were not interested in colonization, and in fact, were rather opposed to it, as it tended to interfere with their trade, with which they were primarily concerned. The difficult conditions of settlement, the harsh climate of the country, and the antagonism of the Indians were also barriers to the progress of settlement. The colonial policy of the time, which was based on the idea of the establishment of colonies for the purposes of producing raw materials for the use of the mother country, did not lend itself to the active establishment of fully rounded colonial communities. The numerous wars in which France was engaged from time to time also distracted attention from the settlements in New France , and for considerable periods the French emigrants were practically abandoned to themselves. In this situation they were nobly supported and encouraged by their religious leaders, who did a great deal to maintain the morale of the struggling settlers.


The first real attempt at settlement in New France was made when Champlain turned his attention from Acadia to the valley of the St. Lawrence in 1608. A settlement was then established at Quebec with twenty-seven men. The Rouen Company, which was in control at this time, was opposed to Champlain's policy. This company was superseded by the Montmorency Company, but the situation was not thereby changed. Several of the settlers becoming discouraged returned to France .


In 1627 the Company of New France , or of the One Hundred Associates, was formed. An expedition set out for New France with 200 emigrants. This expedition was captured by Kirke in the St. Lawrence, and Champlain was taken to England . While there he worked in the interests of New France, and when Quebec was returned to France in 1632, settlement was resumed. Champlain returned in 1633 with a number of colonists. In the interval the colony had been broken up, and all had left but a few staunch land-holders. When Champlain died in 1635, the French population of New France amounted to only 85 persons, 23 of whom had settled on the land.


The One Hundred Associates were given authority from Labrador to Florida and from the Atlantic to lake Huron, and over this territory they had practically sovereign power. This Company agreed to send out 4,000 settlers to Canada within fifteen years. Settlers were to be housed and provided with the necessary maintenance at the Company's expense until such time as they were able to sustain themselves on their holdings. The Company, however, was hampered in its activities by lack of money. In order to meet the situation, it created seigniories which were granted to certain individuals on condition that they should place settlers on the land. Under this policy a number of colonists were placed, and clearing and cultivation of the soil was encouraged. Outstanding names in this connection are Hébert and Couillard, who were the first to cultivate the soil of New France. Another outstanding name is that of Abraham Martin, who cultivated what later became known as the Plains of Abraham .


The colonizers continued to meet with serious difficulties, and by 1641 only about 300 settlers had been placed on the soil. These settlers were frequently harassed by the Iroquois, who had now been supplied with firearms, and twenty-five years of savage warfare ensued.


Maisonneuve arrived in 1641, bringing with him between 200 and 300 colonists, and settled the island of Montreal . This settlement was attacked by the Indians, and bravely defended in the years from 1643 to 1653. In the latter year, Maisonneuve returned to France and brought out 100 settlers, and established a company of militia for the defence of the settlers against the Indians.


Three Rivers was founded in 1644, but mainly as a result of the attacks of the Indians made little progress.


A serious problem which faced the colony at this time was the scarcity of women. A policy was adopted of carefully selecting women in France, and bringing them out to the colony to provide wives for the colonists. In spite of colonization efforts, however, in 1663 the French population numbered not more than 2,500. In that year the charter of the One Hundred Associates was cancelled, and two years later Talon, the most outstanding figure in active colonization, arrived. It was decided to bring 300 settlers to the colony each year. Unfortunately, the difficulties of the voyage took its toll, and it is estimated that nearly one-quarter died before reaching New France .


An outstanding event in colonization was the settlement of over 1,000 soldiers from the Carignan-Salières Regiment, which had been brought out to deal with the Iroquois. They formed an important element in the population. Settlers were encouraged by a grant of one hundred francs, provisions for a year, clothing, and agricultural implements. In some cases settlers were provided with prepared farms, and in others were paid wages while clearing their land. Seed was also provided. Owing to the wooded nature of the country, clearing was extremely difficult, and it is estimated that it required a year for one man to clear an acre and a half, and two or three years at least were necessary before a settler could maintain himself from the land. Attempts were made to strengthen the economic basis of the colony by developing trade. In 1666 ship-building was introduced with a view to providing ships to establish trade with the French West Indies. Salmon, eels, fish oil, timber, and flour were exported. Tanneries were established at Montreal. The growth of hemp and flax was introduced, and linen was woven for the use of the colonists.


The policy of dividing the land in seigniories was continued, and several of these were granted to officers of the Carignan-Salières Regiment. Attempts were also made to link the scattered settlements together by a policy of connected land settlements. The potash industry was also established with a view to making use of the timber being cleared and exporting of potash to France. Between 1665 and 1673 about a thousand women were brought to the colony under a policy of careful selection, supervision, and distribution. With the end of the work of Talon, little interest in colonization was taken, and emigration from France practically ceased at   the end of the century, apart from some Acadians who moved to the St. Lawrence and some discharged soldiers.


Attention was then turned to the development of the colony by the natural increase of population. This increase was encouraged in various ways, and the return of settlers to France was discouraged. A number of convicts was sent out to the colony, many of whom became valuable citizens. This policy was discontinued after 1750. Between 1715 and 1730 the population of the colony grew from 19,000 to 34,000, a fact which indicates the success of the policy of encouraging natural increase. The area under cultivation increased from 71,000 acres in 1720 to 148,000 acres in 1730. The export of timber to the West Indies was commenced in 1729, and thus a new and important industry introduced.


In this latter period, judged by the European standards of the time, the Canadian settlers were prosperous, and there had developed an important community based on hardy, thrifty, and courageous settlers. Colonization as such could hardly be said to have been successful, as even with the natural increase, in a period of 155 years, the population numbered only 65,000. The quality of these settlers, however, their vitality, capacity for hard work, and endurance, laid the foundations of the large French population of Canada to-day.


In 1763 French possessions on the North American continent were handed over to the British, and shortly afterwards a large immigration movement began, particularly from the north of Scotland and from Ireland . Many of these immigrants settled in the English colonies to the south. Economic circumstances in the southern part of Ireland gave an impetus to emigration. and numbers of the Celtic Irish settled in Newfoundland. Many of these later moved to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and were the first Celtic Irish settlers on this continent.


The break-up of the clan system in the Highlands of Scotland in 1745 led to considerable emigration from Scotland . In 1621 James I had granted to Sir William Alexander the peninsula of Acadia , Cape Breton, and the territory laying between the bay of Fundy and the St. Lawrence river. This territory was named New Scotland. In order to promote settlement an order of baronets was instituted, each of whom agreed to place colonists on the land granted to him. Over 70 arrived from Scotland in 1628, 30 of whom died in the first year as the result of hardships endured. This colony was removed by Charles I at the desire of the king of France. Settlement was established at Cape Breton island in 1629, but this colony was carried off by Captain Daniel of Dieppe on the ground that the territory belonged to France. In 1713 Acadia was ceded to Great Britain by France and given its present name of Nova Scotia. A military port was established at Halifax in 1749, and an expedition consisting of 13 transports, carrying 2,576 colonists, mostly discharged soldiers and sailors, arrived. The success of this settlement attracted others from the New England colonies and from the British isles . Halifax was made the capital and seat of government in 1751 when the population was estimated at about 6,000. Settlement was established on the other side of the harbour and also at Lunenburg. After !I the removal of the Acadians, the Annapolis valley was settled mainly by sturdy settlers from the New England colonies. As the attractions of Nova Scotia became better known other settlers arrived, and in 1767 six families settled in eastern Nova Scotia, in what in now Pictou county. These settlers had been placed by the Philadelphia Company, which had been allotted 200,000 acres. Contact was made with Scotland through a Greenock merchant who owned shares in this company. Scottish Highlanders were induced to emigrate by the offer of a free passage, a grant of land, and a year's provisions. As a result of this, in 1773 the famous ship Hector sailed from Loch Broome with 189 souls on board. These Highlanders brought with them the proscribed Highland dress, in which they proudly landed on the shores of Nova Scotia and formed the first settlement at Pictou. Another group of Scots from Dumfries, who had settled on Prince Edward Island, joined them three years later and greatly added to the strength of the colony. In 1783 and 1784 the settlement was further increased by the arrival of disbanded soldiers from the Hamilton and Royal Highland Emigrant Regiments. Later an important ship-building industry was developed.


Contribution to the settlement of Nova Scotia was made by Ireland through the activities of Alexander McNutt, who obtained large grants of land. About 500 settlers arrived in 1761 and 1762, and by 1766 Truro, Onslow, and Londonderry districts had a population of about 700. These settlers brought to Nova Scotia their knowledge of flax-growing and of the linen industry, and not only supplied themselves, but produced linen for neighbouring settlements. A group of Yorkshire Methodists and also some Irish emigrants settled in Cumberland county, and exercised an important influence at the time of the revolt of the New England colonies.


Settlers soon began to find their way into the territory which is now the province of New Brunswick. Sunbury county was founded in 1765, and at this time there were 80 families at Sackville, which the following year was granted a representative in the Assembly. The development of New Brunswick was greatly aided by the migration of United Empire Loyalists, as was also the development of Nova Scotia. Of the 25,000 Loyalists arriving in Nova Scotia , about 10,000 settled on the St. John river. The difficulties of settlement and distance from the seat of government at Halifax led to agitation for the formation of a new province. This was done, and in 1784 New Brunswick was established. Industries such as shipbuilding, lumbering, and fishing developed rapidly in the province of New Brunswick, as had been the case in Nova Scotia. An export trade with the West Indies in fish was established, and rum and molasses were imported. Agriculture, however, continued to be the main industry.


Scotland figures in the settlement of eastern New Brunswick mainly through the activities of William Davidson of Inverness, who came to Miramichi in 1765, and established the lumber industry. After the close of the Napoleonic wars discharged soldiers settled in the western part of the province, and in 1819 about 2,000 immigrants arrived from Ireland . Scottish settlers had arrived in 1774 in Prince Edward Island, and had later moved to Pictou. There was another important settlement in 1803, when a group arrived under the direction of Lord Selkirk, mainly from the island of Skye.


Settlement of the Niagara peninsula began in 1780 as the result of a movement of Loyalist refugees from the revolted colonies. An important incident in this movement was that of the arrival of the Glengarry Highlanders in what is now Glengarry county, Ontario . These Highlanders had settled in the Mohawk valley, New York, and during the revolution they remained loyal to the British Crown. A loyal regiment was raised amongst these settlers by Sir John Johnson, and supported the British. When the war was over, this regiment settled in the Glengarry district. They were joined in 1786 by other parties of Highlanders from Knoydart, Glenelg, and Glengarry, Scotland, and also by a party of Camerons from Lochiel. The Glengarry Fencible Regiment, which was disbanded in 1802, also settled in the vicinity of their compatriots. This regiment, which was organized in 1794 in connection with the French war, was the first Roman Catholic regiment organized since the Reformation, and its organizer, a young priest, Alexander Macdonell, afterwards became the first Roman Catholic bishop of Upper Canada . At the same time, in addition to the members of this regiment, 1,100 Highlanders joined their friends in Upper Canada.


Land to the west along the St. Lawrence river was surveyed, and discharged officers and men who had served in the Revolutionary War were granted land in various proportions, a privilege which was later extended to their children. This led to a very considerable amount of settlement, which continued up to 1824. The British system of land tenure was established in Upper Canada in 1791, and this removed a difficulty in land settlement.


The activity of Lord Selkirk in settlement was extended to lake St. Clair, where in 1894 a party of 111 Highlanders from the island of Mull were settled. This settlement, however, failed, partly because of the poor quality of the land, and more particularly because it was raided during the War of 1812 and most of the cattle and sheep belonging to the colonists appropriated by the soldiers.


The name of Thomas Talbot is outstanding as a colonizer who exercised an important influence in the early development of Upper Canada . He was given a grant of 5,000 acres of land on the shores of lake Erie, where he arrived in 1803. The first settlers arrived in 1809, and the work of developing the community was begun. It was interfered with by the outbreak of the War of 1812. By 1820, however, he had completed the settlement of the land which had been granted to him. He was further employed by the government in the settlement of the adjacent territory. He instituted the system of the settlers performing certain duties before securing title to their lands. In this way he was able to build roads and provide further community requirements.


The Highland clearances also stimulated the settlement of Scottish emigrants in Canada. Highlanders were removed from Scottish estates in order to provide for sheep runs and deer forests. These clearings began in 1807, and were at the height of their activity in 1811. It was in this connection that Lord Selkirk turned his eyes to the territory occupied by the Hudson's Bay Company along the Red river in what is now the province of Manitoba. In 1811 the Hudson 's Bay Company granted him an area of 116,000 square miles, and in that year a party of Scottish Highlanders and Irishmen was organized and dispatched through Hudson bay . They reached their destination on September 4, 1812. In this year another party similar in character was dispatched. It was followed by a third party in 1813. Opposition to this colony came from the Hudson's Bay Company traders, and also from the traders of the North West Company, which resulted in the breakup of the settlement. Another party arrived in 1815, and some of the dispersed settlers returned. Opposition from the North West Company continued with the result that in a conflict with a party of half-breeds, the governor of the settlement and 21 settlers were killed, and for a second time the settlement was broken up. Selkirk later secured control of the Red river district, and for a second time the settlers returned, and the work of re­organization was begun. In addition to the opposition of the fur-traders, these settlers had to face natural enemies. In 1818 grasshoppers appeared, and for three years made agricultural progress impossible, and the settlers were de­pendent on the buffalo for their existence. In 1826 snow storms drove the buffalo from the vicinity, and in the spring the colony was visited by disastrous floods. The union of the North West and Hudson's Bay Companies in 1821 made a policy of aggressive colonization impossible. The colony, however, struggled on until 1834, when the sixth Earl of Selkirk reconveyed the grant of land to the Hudson's Bay Company for £15,000 of Hudson's Bay stock. Fishing, buffalo-hunting, and fur-trading now became the chief occupations of the settlers, and no further attempts at expansion were made. In 1869 when the Hudson's Bay Company handed over its title to the territory to the Dominion government, the population was only about 12,000.


The War of 1812 attracted attention to the necessity for a larger population in Canada, particularly of people with British sympathies. Consequently, the policy of encouraging emigration was adopted. Free grants of land were provided, also subsistence during the period of preparing the land for cultivation. Grants of land were also made to persons who agreed to place settlers on the land. Several groups were placed under this system in Upper Canada. Distressed weavers, particularly from Scotland and the north of England, were also assisted to settle in Canada. Assistance was also given to emigrants from Ireland, and in 1823 an experimental colony of Irish emigrants was organized and located in the Bathurst district in 1825. Another colony on a larger scale was settled in the Peterborough district, the district being named after Peter Robinson, the leader of the colony. These experimental settlements ushered in a period of active emigration to Canada which reached its height in 1833, when 66,339 emigrants entered. Canada at this time was even more attractive to emigrants than the United States, and until 1835 received a greater number of emigrants from the British isles than that country.


A striking feature of this immigration was the number coming from Ireland. In 1831 about 34,000 Irish immigrants landed at Quebec alone. From 1825 to 1846, 626,628 immigrants landed at Canadian ports. This number is remarkable in view of the interruption to immigration caused by the political troubles of 1837-9. This was a period of remarkable development in Upper Canada, as the majority of the immigrants settled there. In 1824 Toronto was a village of 1,600 inhabitants, but by 1846 its population numbered 21,000.


An important figure in immigration and colonization at this time was John Galt, the Scottish novelist, who was the founder of the famous Canada Company, interested in the settlement of the Crown and Clergy Reserves in Upper Canada. This company was organized in 1826, and it was Galt's ambition to have a company similar to the Hudson's Bay Company, but having as its objective colonization rather than trade. Settlement was carried out, and the town of Guelph was founded in 1827. Roads were constructed, and in 1829 the settlement at Goderich was founded. By 1888 Goderich had a population of 5,000, and returned a member to the legislature. Stratford and Galt were also founded by the Canada Company. In 1846 Hamilton had a population of 9,899, Kingston 8,416, Bytown (now Ottawa), 6,275, and such places as London, Belleville, Brockville, and Cobourg had populations varying from one to four thousand.


The British American Land Company was a factor in the settlement of the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada. This company received its charter in 1834, and did much to draw the attention of the British public, particularly Scotland, to the advantages of this part of Canada.


Important immigration, other than British, was that of the Mennonites and 'of the Pennsylvania "Dutch", who made a valuable contribution to the development of Upper Canada.


A tragic event in Canadian immigration was the arrival of large numbers of Irish immigrants in 1847, fleeing from the disaster of the famine of 1846. In 1846, 32,753 immigrants landed at the ports of Quebec and Montreal, but in 1847 the number had increased to 84,445. Of these it was estimated that 70,065 were Irish. Many of these were affected with famine fever. The boats had been terribly overcrowded, and the condition on arrival at Canadian ports was frightful. The experience of the Irish immigrants in this year was an important factor in turning their attention to the United States, and the increase in immigration to the United States from the British isles as compared to Canada was due to the increase in immigration from Ireland. Many Irish, however, continued to arrive in Canada, and formed an important element, particularly in the urban centres.


A great difficulty in connection with colonization in Canada at this time was the lack of transportation facilities. In all of British North America in 1850 there were only 55 miles of rail­way. By 1867 this had increased to over 3,000 miles. In addition a canal system had been created, which made possible the passage of ships of moderate draft from lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario to the sea. In spite of this, however, there was no great increase in immigration, as Canada shared in the depression of the North American continent which commenced in 1854, and the effect of the disastrous immigration of 1847 was still felt. A further factor discouraging immigration was the political unrest of this time, which continued until Confederation in 1867.


A large movement of emigrants from the British isles to the United States drew the attention of the British government to the need for population in the British Dominions. At this time, however, Australia and New Zealand, because of prosperous conditions, were more attractive to emigrants. Consequently, there was little immigration to Canada until the opening of the west. This situation continued in spite of the fact that transportation across the Atlantic improved. In 1833 the first steamer crossed the Atlantic, the Canadian Royal William, which arrived in London from Quebec after a seventeen days' voyage. The Cunard Company was founded in 1840, and in 1850 it had a fleet . of 12 vessels, propelled by paddles, and having a speed from BY to 12% knots. The competition of the steamship had an effect also in improving the conditions aboard the sailing vessels. The Allan Line began operations in 1852, and gradually the old sailing ships disappeared. In 1863, 45 per cent. of the immigrants travelled in steamships; in 1866 this had increased to 81 per cent., and in 1870 the number of immigrants using sailing vessels was practically negligible. Telegraphic communication was also a factor in shortening the distance between the homeland and Canada. The development of railways in Canada not only facilitated the distribution of immigrants, but also provided means of transportation for surplus products to the various markets available.


The year 1870 marks the beginning of the opening of the Canadian North West. From the point of view of colonization, the Selkirk settlement had been largely a failure, and the North West continued to be largely the preserve of the Hudson's Bay Company. The eastern parts of Canada were rapidly filling up, and large numbers of Canadians were migrating to the United States. The unfertile area north of the Great lakes formed a definite barrier to the natural expansion of settlement west­ward in Canada. Captain Palliser, leading an exploration party in the years 1857-60, demonstrated that there was a large area of fertile land stretching from the Great lakes to the Rocky mountains which was suitable for settlement. Satisfactory negotiations were carried out with the Hudson's Bay Company for the transfer of their rights to the new Dominion government, and arrangements were made for the settlement of this vast territory. The Dominion Lands Act, passed in 1872, made provision for grants of free homesteads for purposes of actual settlement.


On the Pacific coast, a settlement had been established as a result of the discovery of gold in 1856, and it was considered that this colony should become part of the Dominion. This was accomplished in 1871, and an important feature of the union was the agreement that a railway should be constructed connecting British Columbia with the other provinces of Canada. The earlier settlement of the prairie region was mainly a result of migration from eastern Canada, and it was not until later that immigration from other countries played a large part in the colonization of this area.


A depression period from 1875 to 1896 led to many schemes for assisted emigration, and colonization was carried out by governments, land companies, and private individuals, as well as charitable societies. Most of these schemes failed from the point of view of colonization, but they were instrumental in bringing numbers of immigrants into Canada. Outstanding in these schemes were the crofter settlements at Killarney, in Manitoba, and Saltcoats, in Saskatchewan, and private individuals such as Lady Gordon Cathcart, who created a settlement between Moosomin and Wapella, Sir James Rankin, who operated Elkhorn, and Lord Brassey, who formed a settlement at Indian Head and Qu'Appelle.


A notable feature of the settlement of the west at this time was the arrival of a large number of Icelanders who settled along the shores of lake Winnipeg, and later formed a very important element in the population of Manitoba.


A Mennonite settlement in southern Manitoba also made a very definite contribution to the development of the west.


The number of immigrants entering Canada continued to be small until the opening of the twentieth century, when the results of the vigorous policy of Sir Clifford Sifton, inaugurated in 1898, began to appear. This policy was directed to secure immigrants not only from the British isles, but from European countries. In the nineties large numbers of central and southern Europeans had begun to migrate to the United States, and Canada began to cast longing eyes on these sturdy peasants. As a result of the Sifton policy the numbers of foreign immigrants for a time exceeded those of British origin. Attention was also directed to securing immigrants from the United States, where conditions, particularly in agriculture, were largely similar to those in Canada. From 1907 to 1915, 40 per cent. of the homestead entries by immigrants were made by Americans. Many of these were returning Canadians, or their descendants. Usually they brought considerable capital, and their familiarity with prairie conditions was an advantage. Accompanying this aggressive policy, there was considerable activity in railway construction, resulting in the development of two additional transcontinental systems, the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific. The railways were also definitely interested in securing settlers along their lines, and cooperated actively with the government. The result was that, while the number of immigrants arriving in Canada in the years 1891 to 1902 inclusive was 437,830, the number from 1903 to 1914 was 2,677,319. This was a period of rapid development of the Prairie provinces, and also of British Columbia, and of a considerable increase in immigrant population, particularly in the urban centres of eastern Canada.


In 1905 the two new provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were created, and plans were laid to receive a large population. A notable feature of the immigration to Canada at this time was the large increase in the numbers coming from the British isles, particularly Great Britain. Assistance to emigrants was given by the British government, and by many charitable organizations, outstanding among which was the Salvation Army; but the unassisted largely outnumbered the assisted.


The outbreak of the Great War brought to a standstill immigration to Canada, and when the War had ended the situation had changed. Although it was expected that large numbers of people would wish to emigrate from Europe as a result of the distress following the War, this large movement did not take place. The movement of emigrants from the British isles also did not revive, mainly because there was less difference in economic opportunity as between the British isles and Canada. Assistance was given to discharged British soldiers to emigrate, and 26,560 came to Canada. Attempts were made to stimulate immigration by means of the Empire Settlement Act, an Act of the British government passed in 1922, which made provision for training and financial assistance to emigrants. The Act empowered the British secretary of state "in association with the government of any part of His Majesty's Dominions, or with public authorities, or public or private organizations either in the United Kingdom or in any part of such Dominions, to formulate and co­operate in carrying out agreed schemes for affording joint assistance to suitable persons in the United Kingdom who intend to settle in any part of His Majesty's Overseas Dominions. An agreed scheme under this Act may be either (a) a development or land settlement scheme, or (b) a scheme for facilitating settlement in or migration to any part of His Majesty's Overseas Dominions by assistance with passages, initial allowances, training or otherwise." Assisted passages to Canada were con­fined to agriculturists and domestic servants. The first land settlement scheme under this Act was negotiated with Canada in 1924 when the Canadian government agreed to provide 3,000 British families with improved farms. This scheme was carried out with modified success. Various schemes to assist immigration were entered into with the railway companies and with other organizations, but the results were meagre in comparison with the effort. The number entering Canada from 1923 to 1934 inclusive was 1,194,382, or less than half those entering in the twelve years before the Great War. As a result of immigration, there are in Canada to-day representatives of about fifty different nationalities.


As a result of the depression in 1930, immigration was actively discouraged by the Canadian government, and only very limited classes were allowed to enter the country.


Reference should be made to Oriental immigration, namely, that of Chinese, Japanese, and East Indians. Chinese first came to British Columbia from California at the time of the gold rush in 1858. The Japanese did not arrive until 1887, and not in any numbers until the beginning of the present century. The Oriental population is largely located in the province of British Columbia. The total number of Chinese entering Canada from 1886 to 1934 was 90,345. According to the 1941 census, however, the Chinese population of Canada was 34,627. The total number of Japanese entering Canada in the years 1901 to 1934 was 24,840. The Japanese population in 1941 was 23;149. The total number of East Indians entering Canada from 1905 to 1934 was 5,398, and the present population about 1,400. At the present time Chinese immigration has ceased, and Japanese immigration is very definitely limited. Fifty-eight per cent. of the Chinese, and over ninety per cent. of the Japanese, in Canada reside in British Columbia.




H. A. Belcher and J. A. Williamson, Migration within the Empire (London, 1924), Isaiah Bowman, The pioneer fringe (New York, American Geographical Society, Special Publication No. 13, 1931), W. A. Mackintosh and W. L. G. Joerg (eds.), Canadian frontiers of settlement (9 vols., Toronto, 1934-6), W. A. Carrothers, Emigration from the British isles (London, 1929), J. A. Cormie, Canada and the new Canadians (Toronto, 1931), Helen I. Cowan, British emigration to British America, 1783-1837 (Toronto, 1928), J. T. Culliton, Assisted emigration and land settlement (Montreal, McGill University studies, No. 9, 1928), Robert England, The central European immigrant in Canada (Toronto, 1929), K. A. Foster, Our Canadian mosaic (Toronto, 1926), R. L. Garis, Immigration restricted (New York, 1927), Statistics of migration (Geneva, International Labour Office, 1932), Stanley C. Johnson, A history of emigration from the United States to North America (London, 1913), H. A. Kennedy, New Canada and the new Canadians (London, 1907), Report of the secretary of state for Dominion affairs of the inter-departmental committee on migration policy (London, 1934), J. A. R. Marriott, Empire settlement (London, 1927), L. G. Reynolds, The British emigrant (Toronto, 1935), W. G. Smith, A study in Canadian immigration (To ronto, 1920), Annual reports of the Oversea Settlement Committee, and various articles in the Proceedings of the Canadian Political Science Association and the Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science.


Source : W. A. CARROTHERS, "Immigration", in W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada , Vol. III, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 396p., pp. 239-249.

© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College