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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian:Immigration Records by Patricia McGregor, PLCGS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
CANADA 1867 ONWARDS
As a result of the recognition that Canada would have to attract settlers in order to demonstrate its legal right to the lands (especially in the west), an 1868 Act of Parliament began the process of legally controlling immigration. An amendment in 1872 excluded criminals and one in 1879 forbade the entry of poor from other countries.
In 1872 The Dominion Lands Act was passed to survey the west for settlers. By 1885 concerns were being raised regarding the number of Chinese in Canada. Chinese were brought to Canada to work on railway construction and by the time the CPR line was completed in 1885 Chinese in Canada numbered about 15,000. An Act of 1885 restricted Chinese emigration into Canada and established a head tax of $50.00 for each Chinese person wishing to come to or stay in Canada. This head tax rose to $100.00 in 1900 and to $500.00 in 1903. In 1923 an act was passed which allowed Chinese children born in Canada, students, members of diplomatic corps and investors with money to be admitted or to remain in the country, but no others. This was repealed in 1946. This is but one example to illustrate the fact that Canadian immigration policy favoured immigrants from Britain and Europe well into the middle of the 20th century. The preference for farmers continued until the close of the 19th century although we begin to see the beginning of a shift at that time.
In 1892 the responsibility for immigration moved from the Department of Agriculture to the new Department of the Interior. In 1897 the Alien Labour Act had as one of its objectives the screening out of non-agricultural immigrants and an advertising campaign was initiated to bring farmers to Canada. Two areas were targeted, the United States and eastern Europe. In the latter a hidden network of immigration agents was established through the North Atlantic Trading Company. At the same time a separate immigration office was created in London, England as the Canadian government was beginning to understand that industrialization of the country would also require immigrants with specialized skills.
By 1901 the population of Canada was 5.7 million. The Immigration Act of 1906 defined “immigrant”; listed those persons prohibited from immigrating and provided for the deportation of those inadmissible—by the transportation company which had brought them. As well, any immigrant who within 2 years of arrival was in jail or on welfare could be deported. In 1908 the first border controls were established along the U.S.-Canada border.
It’s fairly evident that early Canadian immigration policy had two major themes and these continued up to the time of Prime Minister McKenzie King (1940s). Those two themes were economic and cultural—immigration should be economically beneficial to the country and should support the existing cultural and social makeup of the nation. Post-World War II, British and European immigrants were still given preference although Canada became open to accepting refugees. An Order-in-Council in 1946 allowed Canadians to sponsor close relatives in Europe and orphaned nieces and nephews under 16. Starting late in the 19th century and increasing in the 20th, cities began receiving the majority of the immigrants and, Canada, like other nations, favoured certain skill sets over others depending on the needs of the nation at the time.
Some general Canadian genealogy websites include:
Library and Archives Canada Home Page http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/index-e.html
Mailing address: 395 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0N4
The Kids’ Site of Canadian Settlement was launched in January 2005. Don’t be fooled by the title, this is an excellent site for information on settlement history in Canada. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/settlement/kids/index-e.html
Genealogy and Family History http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/022-900-e.html
Canadiana.org - Early Canadiana online http://www1.canadiana.org/en/home
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Canadian: Immigration Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.