Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
June 2005

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


Emigration from Canada


[Although written in the 1930's, this article was published in 1948; for the precice citation see the end of the document.]

Emigration. Until recent years, no statistics have been kept of the exodus of Canadians from Canada ; but it is certain that this has been, at some periods, considerable. A large number of the upper classes of New France returned to old France after the British conquest; and during the British colonial period in Canada there was much going and coming between Canada and the mother country. But the exodus of Canadians to the United States has been by far the most serious feature of Canadian emigration. At times this has been almost a running sore in the Canadian body politic. The greater opportunities in the more populous and affluent states of the American union have attracted to the United States large numbers of the more enterprising and adventurous youth of Canada; the lower scale of living among the French Canadians of previous generations induced a large French-Canadian emigration to Maine, New England, and the Old North West; and the high educational standards of Canadian universities and hospitals gave numerous openings to Canadian scholars and nurses in the United States - to such an extent that it appeared as if Canada were exporting much of its best brains. Between 1901 and 1911, it is estimated that the total emigration from Canada (a large part of which was to the United States ) was not far short of a million; and between 1911 and 1921 it was over a million. The adoption of the quota system of immigration regulation by the United States against immigrants generally, but not against the Canadian-born, had the effect of limiting European immigration into that country, but also of encouraging Canadian immigration. The exact magnitude of Canadian emigration to the United States was, however, impossible to determine, since until 1925 no reckoning was kept of Canadians returning to Canada from the United States. In that year, Canadian immigration officers were instructed to take note of Canadian repatriates; and since then we have definite figures, not only for Canadians emigrating to the United States, but also for Canadians returning to Canada. From these it is clear that since the beginning of the great depression in 1929, the movement of population has been toward Canada. According to the official returns of the United States government for the year ending June 30, 1933, immigration to that country from Canada totalled 6,074. In the same period, the immigration from the United States to Canada amounted to 10,996; and there was in addition a return movement of 15,267 Canadians. This meant that there was a total immigration into Canada from the United States of 26,263, or a net gain in favour of Canada of 20,189.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 291.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College