FUSING BABEL’S BROOD
The Human-interest Side of Our Immigration Department at Ottawa and How “Bohunks” Become Canadians
CHARLES CHRISTOPHER JENKINS
From steerage to land ownership—pictures that tell an evolution story all their own. Upper right: Scotch immigrants waiting to land on Canada's soil. Upper left: Immigrant settler and his family get settled in their prairie home. Lower right: Breaking the virgin prairie. The “bull” plow is still a feature in pioneer operations in the West. Centre: After twenty years. Residence and farm buildings of thrifty Scotch settler who landed with no assets but his brawn and initiative, capital worth more than gold to Canada. Lower left: Will our future be in safe hands? Well, just take another glance at these sturdy little prairie Canadians, children of Old Country settlers.
EUROPE’S human overflow as it washed into Canada in the pre-war days was neither a promising nor an inspiring sight when viewed at close range. It had nevertheless its own curious fascination for any modest student of the human tribe. In this connection I have particularly in mind a night late in the fall of 1912, when I went forward to the colonist coaches of a train traveling east from Saskatoon for an hour or so’s observation of the still unmelted ingredients of Canada’s melting-pot.
Let me paint a swift picture of one coach-load of these people who were fairly representative of the type of European immigrants flocking West in those days. Across the aisle sprawled a coterie of swarthy sons of Italy, garbed in their inevitable corduroys and neckerchiefs— navvies who had been accepted as farm-hands for the summer because real farm-hands, were scarcer than hen’s molars. Opposite and facing them sat the wife of one of them, a short, squat, shapeless mass of a woman of ponderous girth, whose crowning glory was a head-shawl of blue worked ingeniously with crimson flowers she had never seen on the prairie. Around and about her was piled a heterogeneous assortment of dirty packages and unwrapped bundles of rags, on top of which lay an unwashed and loudly protesting infant with a shawl bound tightly about its middle., Behind this untidy company lounged Swedes and Finns, lanky of form and with great shocks of light hair that looked like bleached flax, deep-muttering Russians and Persians and a motley, be-pimpled assemblage of other types; Austrians, Serbians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Poles, an Arab or two, and here and there an Anglo-Saxon of the lower grade. There were half-blind men and cripples, as well as aged individuals who must have hobbled into Canada when the immigration officers were looking the other way.
Everywhere was squalor, fluttering rags and the rank odors of sweaty, unwashed clothing, garlic, cheap whiskey and worse tobacco. Nowhere did there appear a face with a gleam of ambition or initiative, but instead a set, woodeny expression sat like a mask on the features of all this widely differentiating throng that gave one the singular impression of cattle huddling stupidly in the narrow gangways of the stock-yards. “Like creatures predestined for toil and tribulations,” kept recurring to my mind.
The first and only sign of “pep” among them was when loud words broke out between an Italian and a Slav. The Italian, while passing along the aisle, upset the tin biscuitbox from which the Slav was foraging supper. The Slav
was a giant of a man, and, when he seized the Italian to take him to task, the latter drew a wicked-looking dirk. Instantly there was an uproar and that coach-load of near-humans leaped into life, cackling panic in most of the dialects of Southern Europe. Other knives were flashed out by men who hadn’t the slightest idea what was wrong but gathered it was stabbing-time and they ought to get busy. The timely appearance of a uniformed trainman quelled the riot, which no doubt would have otherwise wound up with another messy job for a Western coroner’s jury.
These foreigners were all in an ugly mood. The Canadian Government and the transportation companies had lured these beings from the four corners of Europe for their own particular purposes; for the future Providence would be left to work out its own miracles. Just now they were being shifted East from the prairie harvest fields, all headed for the cities—Winnipeg, Fort William, Port Arthur, Toronto and even Montreal—where, if rough, unskilled labor were in demand, some of them would eke out an independent existence till spring; others would gravitate to the jails, the prison farms and the charity wards of the hospitals. In this one coach they were packed in like cattle, and there were three other colonist coaches freighted with a like variety and trainload after trainload to come. The Western harvest was garnered and threshed, much of the golden grain on its way to the markets of the world, and Prairie Canada, having extracted all the labor it could get from them for one season, was literally ejecting the “Bohunks” from its midst as the blower ejects the chaff and dirt from the grain on the wheat-fields. Nowhere were they wanted except to apply their brute energy to labor the Canadian workman felt beneath him.
The problem that smote any thoughtful Canadian was: What is to become of these illiterate people with their hair-trigger temperaments when construction work ceases, as cease it will in Canada in the periodic pauses of progress? The sinister answer cane a very few years later in the strikes and fatal riots that broke out from Port Arthur to Vancouver following an oversupply of urban labor, and again in the foreign agitations and plottings continually at work beneath the surface during the war, all of which culminated in the colossal Winnipeg strike and subsequent
street duels between the mounted police and the strikers.Jfl am quite well aware that many of the leaders in that strike were Anglo-Saxons, but it was among foreigners of the type above referred to that they got following. Few people removed at great distances from the Manitoba metropolis in those fevered days actually realized that secret objectives cf the Winnipeg outbreak were mob-rule at Winnipeg, a Dominion-wide strike to paralyse commerce from coast to coast, a revolution if necessary and the setting up of a soviet régime at Ottawa.
Doing Things in a Hurry—Carelessly
HOW did Canada originally come to open her gates to these hordes of illiterates, misfits and trouble-makers? W’ell, you have to go back a bit. The Canadian slogan of that great era of progress predating the World War was: “Get the country developed. Get it peopled. Any old kind of development and any old kind of people, so long as it’s done in a hurry.”
Things certainly were done in a hurry if we pause to consider what strides this Dominion has made even within the memory of younger men. We have been eulogized as builders of a New World Empire of “limitless potentialities.” Even admirers beyond our borders have been inoculated with that word “limitless”—a pet jingoism over-worked to our own harm. To this vain-glorious boast of our “limitless” resources, to a great extent no doubt, is traceable the national apathy that allowed to go unchecked for many golden years exploitation, wastefulness and the haphazard development that some day or another may have to be done all over again.
In the matter of stimulating immigration, however, Canada has learned and profited by the mistakes and blunders of the past—mistakes and blunders committed in her zeal to grow big and powerful and attract to her shores in the face of tremendous difficulties the man-power to handle the task. There was a day when she could not afford to pick and choose new-comers with too critical an eye. Her farms and her factories, her mines and her forests all were shouting to her, “Men! Men! More Men! Nationally we were about “three sheets in the wind” with too-frequent libations of “limitless” ideals in those days.
But the sobering-up process during and after the war changed things. Canada no longer allows the flood of immigrants to pour into this country holus-bolus. She no longer proposes to be a refuge for Europeans with more “divine discontent” than they have of back-bone and energy. The lessons of the past few years have taught her that she must bring more farmers in and have more surplus produce to send out if she is quickly to bring back and maintain good times, good wages, eliminate unemployment, pay generous pensions and rewards to the men who did so much for her overseas and make her war debts easy to bear. This is what her own experience has taught her over and over again; what history has reiterated to her. Windy demagogues sans inclination to engage in useful effort she has had quite enough of. As one experienced Canadian thinker put it to me recently: “The country is overrun with theorists perfectly sincere and agitators entirely dishonest, ranging from those who would wipe out established industries and throw thousands out of employment down to those who would confiscate everything a man earns over $3,000 a year;” schemes that have been tried and discarded generations ago by men who had more time to carry them out than we have to-day. Flannel-mouthed agitators and Red propagandists will henceforth find as hearty a welcome in Canada as pole-cats seeking admission to an afternoon tea.
Picking the Wheat from the Chaff
'T'HE Canadian Immigration Act has all
1 along provided for the exclusion of Anarchists, Bolsheviki and all other types who disbelieve in organized government, as well as nationals of our late enemies’ governments. But of late public demand has made the Immigration authorities particularly drastic on these points, and when the officers board the incoming immigrant boats before they touch at Canadian ocean ports every newcomer must meet a severe examination as to his or her morals and prospective attitude toward the established government of Canada. Shiftless persons and potential trouble-makers are soon rejected. Other features which immediately disqualify wouldbe citizens of the Land of the Maple Leaf are mental weaknesses, diseases, an immoral past, alcoholism, mendicancy, previous deportation, illiteracy and physical defects.
It is no longer a case of enticing Old World settlers to come here, but of selecting the best of Europe’s human overflow. Honorable J.
A. Calder, present Minister, has been quick to recognize this fact. Provided present-day regulations and special instructions are carried out to the letter by immigration officers on duty at our ports it would be absolutely impossible for a motley, illiterate crew such as is described at the opening of this article to get into Canada. To-day such a party would be gone over with a fine-tooth comb, so to speak, and perhaps a very few of them would survive the process. Previously the demands of wealthy Western contractors swayed things to a considerable extent at Ottawa, and, with projected development standing still for want of man-power, almost any kind of human being who could wield a pick and shovel, cut railway ties or carry water was allowed to come in, no matter what his nationality or his past happened to be.
Exclusion of immigrants to-day not only debars foreigners defective in mind, morals or physique, but, for a temporary period at least, bans all nationalities not specifically adapted to Canada’s present needs in the way of additional producers of labor. Experienced farmers and farm-laborers, ready to take off their coats, roll up their sleeves and make wild but fertile soil produce grains, fruits and vegetables where only timber or prairie grass is to-day will find a big, glittering word, “W-E-L-C-O-M-E,” blazoned on the Dominion’s front door-mat. For others, who are unable to run a farm or provide farm labor, the door-mat is liable to be reversed disclosing the simple injunction, “B-E-A-T I-T!”
Whereas, under normal regulations, an artisan or Jaborer, otherwise qualified, could gain admission toCanada if he had on his person the equivalent of $25 and half that amount for every member of his family over five years of age, to-day he must be able to show $250 for himself, $125 for every member of his family eighteen years old and $50 for every child over five years of age. This drastic order-in-council extends its scope till March 31st next, and if unemployment shows no particular improvement by that date it wdll likely be renewed.
We Must Afford to be Fastidious
PAN Canada afford to be fastidious in her selection of settlers from now on? Generally speaking, men who have had close-up experience with the various races flocking into Canada during the past twenty years or more will tell you that she would be better off to-day had she begun to be more particular just about that many years ago. Doukhobors, Mennonites, and other eccentric contingents have put her to a lot of trouble and expense. She still has too many shiftless gentry on her hands, not to mention a few
races in the West and North who don’t want to become Canadians either in spirit or in conduct and who steadfastly refuse to discard their Old World language and customs, even going so far as to insist on their own schools to perpetuate the same.
But those people were let in in a day when free land yawned for the pioneer. Although it is a fact that of the 300,000,000 acres of arable land in Canada only one-third is in “farm holdings” and but one-sixth is under cultivation, leaving 250,000,000 acres idle and unproductive for
want of plows and men, there are to-day no free homesteads available in Canada; this statement I verified by direct inquiry in Ottawa. All lands situated within fifteen miles from the railways are reserved for returned soldiers. Improved lands may be bought to-day, nevertheless, for $30 an acre, lands many times as fertile as those which sell in long-settled portions of the United States at as high as $400 an acre.
Unless he be a fairly wealthy man when he comes here, it is difficult for an Old Country farmer to start in pioneering “on his own” in the West to-day. Experience has shown that it is much better policy to encourage the newcomer from the Old Sod to hire out as a farm-hand in Canada for a year or a couple of years before attempting to homestead for himself. In that way he not only secures first-hand experience at the very work he is intending to launch out in for himself, but he also gets the benefit of training under a Canadian farmer who has been “through the mill.” There have been innumerable failures on the part of Old Countrymen who started homesteading “on their own,” owing principally to the inexperience in dealing with Canadian soil and meeting climatic conditions. On the other hand, few failures are recorded of homesteaders who first gained a few years’ experience at farm work with some older farmer. For these reasons, immigration officials state they are advising prospective settlers from the Old Land to engage first as farm help for a year or so and thus avoid the mistakes they would have to pay dearly for in lost time and effort on their own homesteads.
But no less important than the sifting of the bestadapted to Canada’s needs from the tide of immigrants flowing to the American continent is the subsequent directing of the stream of selected humanity, after it reaches Canadian soil, to those parts of the country where its respective units can do best for themselves in particular and for the Dominion in general. The internal system of taking care of the disposition of the immigrant after he lands here is constantly improving, but it is still far from perfect. Naturally, the great transcontinental railways, including those under Government ownership and control, are interested in the immediate development of the vacant
February 1, 1921
lands at or near the far Western and Northwestern reaches of their lines of steel. The denser the producing population becomes in the distant sections of the West the greater of course will be the transportation business done by the railways between East and West in outgoing raw products and incoming manufactured goods.
This feature—the allocating of settlers—has long ago been sized up from the angle of dollars and cents. Statisticians have estimated that the value of a prairie settler to the railway line nearest his homestead is $746.33 a year, based on railway tariffs of 1916-16. To have a little of the old-time schoolmaster’s fun with figures, just capitalize $746.33 at 534 per cent, (interest which the Government is now paying on Victory bonds) and you find the railway alone has an investment representing $13,569.63 in each settler. Since 1881, the Canadian Pacific railway located 48,147 settlers, which number, on the basis above referred to, represents a total investment worth $653,336,975.61.
It has been further estimated that from the year 1881 to 1919 settlers have produced in actual net traffic returns for the railways approximately $157,363,573.00.
In conjunction with these figures it must be remembered that when the railways, including the privately-owned roads, are earning money, Canada is earning money too. The major portion of the railways’ earnings returns to the country in general in overhead expenditures of the companies, taxes, wages, maintenance, extensions and so fort! any rate, the penchant of the railways and the national habit of the Federal authorities in control of immigration is to get the settler to locate as far West as possible.
This system in future years may prove itself to have been long-sighted policy, but in the meantime, Eastern Manitoba, Northwestern Ontario and Quebec, particularly the two first-mentioned, are becoming restive under what they deem prolonged neglect on the part of the Federal immigration administration. The agitation for more attention in the way of settlement and land development in Manitoba and Ontario began with municipal activities, the formation of district colonization associations and finally gained the attention of the Agricultural Departments of both provinces. The result is that plans are now actually in operation for aggressive work in settling up vacant lands in Northern Ontario, Northwestern Ontario and Eastern Manitoba in particular.
Ontario Getting After Its Share
INCIDENTALLY, Eastern Ontario is also making its individual claim, not only for farm-labor, but for prospective farm-owners and settlers. Dr. G. C. Creelman, the new Agent-General for Ontario, recently made the statement that so many first-class farms with all modern improvements were now vacant in Eastern Ontario, through casualties in the war, migration to the West and other causes, that owners were actually offering some of them for little more than is being asked for bare prairie lands in the West. Hon. Manning Doherty, Minister of Agriculture in the Ontario legislature, who returned from his official overseas trip while this article was in course of writing, told me that the very best type of English farmers are already locating on vacant farms in Lower Ontario. Most of these immigrants are well fixed financially. They are former English tenant farmers, who, under the new order of things in the tight little isle, are faced with either buying the farms they and their ancestors rented for generations, or moving off them. A great many of them have announced that they prefer to make their new investment in Canada. Hon. Mr. Doherty stated that the capital these yeomen and the thrifty Scotch farmers also coming would bring with them would run up into the millions.
The policy of the Federal Department in selecting immigrants is being as earnestly carried out by the Provincial Departments. No immigration is being encouraged except that of farmers, farm laborers and domestic help. Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia’s individual Agents-General and their assistants are now really engaged in a friendly rivalry to appropriate the cream of this Old Country movement to Canada. “Ontario expects to secure four to six thousand this year,” said Hon. Manning Doherty. “Seven hundred are booked for the first boat in March. Incidentally, Dr. G. C. Creelman, our Agent-General, has been in Denmark and the outlook is that there will be a large influx of Danish farmers to the hinterlands of Northern Ontario. Early in the New Year Dr. Creelman left for Sweden where more of the sterling class of Scandinavian pioneers will be encouraged to locate in the upper portion of this Province.”
Manitoba’s efforts to induce British and Scandinavian farmers in particular to locate in that Province will be no less aggressive than Ontario’s. Manitoba, like Ontario, has still a great deal of desirable land open for settlementmore than most Canadians imagine. In its 252,000 square miles of territory there are vast resources in the way of agricultural possibilities, minerals, fur, fish and lumber yet practically untouched. To utilize these resources, an editorial in a recent issue of the Manitoba Free Press pointed out, there were only 553,860 persons, or about two to the square mile, “whereas,” argued the Free Press, “Germany had 300 to the square mile, and in an area about one and one-half times that of Manitoba.”
In the matter of British immigration, English newcomers to this country havé always been by far the most numerous; Scotch come second, Irish third and Welsh fourth. Between July 1st, 1900, and the end of the calendar year 1920, a total of 1,302,037 British immigrants poured into Canada, of whom 934,769 were English, 15,067 Welsh, 271,605 Scotch and 81,596 Irish. Thus British immigration was somewhat better than one-third of the total coming to Canada in that period. The total from all countries, including United States, reached 3,523,939.
Many From U.S. Cross our Border
[ TNITED STATES immigrants ran the British a close race for first place in the same period, the influx from our next door neighbor’s domain being 1,349,212.
• The banner year for immigration in Canada was 1913, when the total from all countries ran up to 402,432, of whom 150,542 were British, 139,009 from United States and 112,881 from other countries.
Besides British and American immigrants, forty-eight other nationalities are enumerated in official records as coming to Canada from July 1st, 1900, to March 31st, 1920, and among them the following seven were the leaders in point of numbers: Austro-Hungarian 200,026; Italian 121,507; Russian 97,264; Hebrew 76,114; German 38,821; Chinese 37,913 and Polish 36,265. The Malay race wins the booby prize with the low number—5. These five copper-tinted citizens from the other side of the world all came in a bunch in the year 1901-02. Evidently they didn’t like the country well enough to write home and bring more of the folks out, or else the country didn’t like them well enough to let more of the folks in, for there is no record of another Malay setting foot on Canadian soil since.
The Scandinavian races are generally accepted as the very best type of pioneers and good citizens, especially in the bush country where patience and labor are finally rewarded with prosperity. The influx of Scandinavians during the past twenty years is tabulated as follows: Danish 6,779, Icelandic 4,512, Norwegian 20,797, Swedish 28,678.
The agitation under way for some time in United States and Australia in particular to exclude Japanese immigration will no doubt create curiosity in Canada as to the number flocking here from the kingdom of the Mikado. According to Government records the Japs have been flocking into Canada at the rate of about 1,000 a year. Between the dates July 1st, 1900, and March 31st, 1920, the total influx of Japanese was 19,886.
Of the 3,528,989 immigrants landing in Canada between July 1st, 1900, and December 31st, 1920, Ontario as an individual province secured the lion’s share, a total of 968,781. Saskatchewan and Alberta, which are combined in the Government official figures, received 961,479, and other provinces, in order, took a division of the balance as follows: Quebec 545,651, Manitoba 492,126, British Columbia 390,196; Maritima provinces 167,395.
Almost a Ready-Made Canadian
ASIDE from the value of their man-power and pioneer ■ energy, the actual wealth in the way of bank accounts and tangible assets which immigrants bring into the country is an item of importance. In the matter of American immigration to Canada it runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. For instance, since the year 1912-13, American settlers brought with them to Canada, according to official records, $124,586,490.13. In the year 1912-18 alone, immigrants from the United States brought in $25,795,545.15, and the following year $22,351,997.40.
Recent rates of exchange between here and United States, against which Canadians complained so bitterly, have proved a big inducement to American farmers to come over to Canada and invest their money, which proves the old saying that it is an ill wind that blows nobody good.
The American settler comes to Canada, one might say, almost a ready-made Canadian. He comes from a country not only speaking the same language as our own but more identical with Canada in its climate, soil, customs, laws and angles of view than any other on the face of the globe. Like the Canadian settler in the West, he is a born pioneer with innate initiative and love of overcoming obstacles and difficulties. The American calls for little coaching or encouragement from the Immigration Department once he gets settled on his place. He has a habit of taking care of himself and immediately “making himself at home.” On the other hand, it is another question as to whether the Canadian and the American, speaking from a general
standpoint, are the best settlers we have in the West. Included in both their numbers in the past have been many exploiters, pure and simple—farmers who went into our West not to farm but to get all they could out of the prairie’s fertile surface-soil, taking up one piece of land after another and “cropping them to death.” That means so soon as the land becomes exhausted for want of fertilization and sympathetic care the exploiter moves on to another section, leaving behind him a forest of weeds and effete soil that will not “come back” for years. By this I do not intend to convey the idea that a majority or even a large percentage of American and Canadian settlers on the prairies are exploiters, but they seem to have been the originators of this pernicious system of “sectionjumping,” and most of the tricks in the way of exploitation that overseas settlers have been found indulging in they learned from our native farmers or their cousins across the border.
If there is a “best settler” from standpoint of showing most progress in a given number of years, the palm must be passed to the Scandinavian—the Icelander, the Dane and the Norwegian. I have been through Icelandic settlements in Saskatchewan that were a delight to the eye. These people settle on their Canadian holdings with the single idea of creating a home for themselves and their children. As soon as the Icelander commences to make profits from his farm he invests in improvements and materials for beautification of his immediate surroundings. His ruling passion is for prancing horse-flesh. An Icelander values cosy home surroundings and a spanking team of horses more than a bank account any day. The Icelandic people are inclined to be as clannish as the Scotch, and, like that sterling race, they are very adaptable, are hard workers, thrifty, progressive and soon become enthusiastic Canadians.
The “Good Old Days” of Snow and Ice Canards
AN ARTICLE on immigration would be incomplete ■ without a reference to the early difficulties which had to be pioneered and overcome by departments having charge in the past. It was following the régime of Sir Clifford Sifton as Minister of Interior and Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs when he took over complete charge of immigration work, from 1896 till 1905, that Canadian development along that line received its greatest impetus. Prior to that period, Canada in the eyes of the outside world was a wilderness of ice hummocks and eternal snows. So far it h ad received its principal notoriety through being made the setting for all sorts of outlandish and blood-curdling fiction. In the Old Country when a young man emigrated to Canada he was practically given up as lost to civilization by his family and friends.
The preparations which he made for his departure were about on a par with those of some member of an exploring party bound for the North Pole. Indeed not so very many years ago, a certain class of “outfitters” overseas and at the ports of entry in this country, did a thriving business in disposing of zeroweather garb, firearms, bowie-knives and other murderous weapons|to newcomers to this country, who were led to believe that a man could not meet the exigencies of the climate unless garbed in furs and woollens, and that to protect himself against attacks of wild beasts and wilder savages he must go about armed to the teeth. The result was that it was almost impossible to induce the right class of Old Country farmers to come to Canada.
These false conceptions of Canada had gained credence all over Europe and even in the United States. In the
latter country, newspaper and magazine writers seldom failed to refer to the Dominion as the “Frozen North.” United States newspapers featured news stories from Canada’s hinterlands, usually exaggerations, about whole families being frozen to death, settlers being devoured by wolves and the like, and when Canadian pictures were published over the line they invariably depicted an ice palace, a snow avalanche or a wild Indian war dance. No American editor or writer áéemed to dare concede that there was such a thing as a summer season here or that the products of the country consisted of anything in particular outside of rye whiskey, furs, ice and Christmas trees. The current notion of Canada in United States in those days is aptly illustrated in the story of the little girl who was leaving with her parents for the North, and, on the eve of their departure, was overheard to conclude her prayers with: “Good-bye, God—we’re going to Canada.”
'T'HIS was the way the Immigration Department of Sifton’s day set about mopping up the mess of misinformation and climate-faking that was practically holding development in Canada at a standstill:
They sent out instructions to their agents abroad to buy up every picture, painting or pamphlet they could find that depicted Canada as a land of snow and ice and to destroy such immediately. Measures were taken to discourage wild-eyed correspondents of outside newspapers from sending hurtful exaggerations of climate and conditions abroad, and definite instructions were given out that any man in the employ of the Department found giving out false or exaggerated information about the country was to be summarily dismissed.
Having started to plow under the weeds of misinformation, Sir Clifford lost no time in sowing the seeds of beneficial publicity. After a complete new staff of agents had been appointed and printed propaganda had been prepared, a battery of photographers was turned loose in the settled portions of Western Canada with instructions to get pictures of actual seeding, harvesting and other agricultural and ranching scenes depicting production as it actually existed. These photographs along with samples of Canadian-grown grains, vegetables and fruits were flooded into the States in the Union where prospects were bright for
Innovations of any kind are invariably bitterly opposed at the start. Sir Clifford met opposition to his plans from divers directions. One of the most difficult tasks was bringing the steamship companies into line. The order which went out putting a ban on the encouragement of Old Country and European immigration other than farmers and farmlaborers brought a storm of disapproval from the transportation people.
securing settlers. Representative American farmers from communities all over the Northern States were taken, at the Canadian Government’s expense, to witness both seeding and harvesting operations in the Dominion’s Western Territories. In this way they were convinced by observation that there was a hot, productive summer climate in Canada and that the prairies on this side of the line were producing greater yields per acre than the soil in their own sections of the States. Most of these men went back to their
hoods absolutely converted to the Canadian viewpoint and permanent boosters for immigration to this country.
The steamship men carried their grievance to Sir WUfrul Laurier, then Prime Minister, who heard them in the presence of his Minister of the Interior. They threatened to withdraw their boats from the service in immigration work. To their surprise, Sir Clifford readily assented, in which event, he added, the government would inaugurate its own transportation services to replace them. It was at this juncture that Sir Wilfrid Laurier turned to the transportation men and said in his bland way: “Well, you have your answer, gentle-
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Continued rom page 13
Needless to say the ships were not'withdrawn.
The next step was to get the sympathetic co-operation of the Atlantic Conference and thereby organize the steamship people in such a manner that they would reach out and bring from Europe the class of settlers desired. Once the steamship companies were organized to suit the department, representatives were despatched into the countries from which settlers were desired.
Spirit of Service Under Calder
IT WAS largely due to this program that *■ immigration in Canada grew and grew till it reached a peak of nearly half a million newcomers in the year 1913.
Under the present Minister of Immigration and Colonization, the Honorable J. A. Calder, the spirit of service, which, during the past few years has taken such a hold on well-conducted business institutions, seems to have become more and more a first rank departmental policy with Canadian immigration officials. The accepted immigrant who lands in Canada to-day without a definite destination is advised where to go and is taken care of until settled. Even afterwards the department keeps in touch with him, and, if he shows any tendency to make good, gives him every help in its power.
In this connection I was recently told a story of one rather touching little incident. Out in Alberta a Canadian wheat-grower noticed a Polish neighbor at different times snatch up his (the Canadian’s) little son and hold him hungrily. One day the father of the boy observed that the Pole was actually repressing tears. Inquiry brought out a broken-hearted account of how the Pole had struggled alone on the prairie looking forward to the day when he could bring out from Poland the wife and baby he had left be'-ind. Then Germany loosed the turmoil on the world that has not yet entirely subsided. The Pole’s wife and baby son were swallowed up in the fog of war. Since some time in 1915 he had been unable to get the least trace of them. Whether they were butchered by the Hun or Bolsheviki, prisoners of war or refugees, he had been unable to learn.
The Canuck farmer wrote the immigration department a letter about it, appealing to them to do anything they could to find the man’s family for him.
He was only a poor Pole, alone and a stranger in a huge, strange land. But beneath the official veneer at Ottawa there beat hearts as big and sympathetic as anywhere in the world. While engaged at their regular duties, Canada’s representatives in strife-torn Poland patiently inquired and searched until they located the missing woman and babe, and not so many months ago a happy family reunion took place away out on the tawny prairies.
Help the New-Comer to Understand Us
MOST of us do not understand the foreigner who comes to our shores, though he is doing his best to understand and copy us if we only give him half a chance. There is good and bad among them as there is in every nationality, but the majority want to better themselves and are willing to work harder at lowlier tasks than the rest of us to accomplish that end. With very few exceptions, even the Southern Europeans are bringing their children up to know and call themselves “Canadians.”
Some six or seven years following the
observations in a colonist coach of foreigners told of at the opening of this article, I had the privilege of attending a number of Northwestern school playground festivities held in honor of a visit from Archdeacon J. H. Cody, then Minister of Education in the Ontario Legislature. At one of these there were children descended from Europeans speaking some twenty-seven languages or dialects. The Minister was tremendously impressed, and I never remember looking upon a sturdier, cleaner-limbed, more vigorous looking lot of tots, and when they sang, “O Canada,” how their eyes sparkled— and the zest they threw into the singing of it! When the Minister of Education addressed them as “young Canada” you could note native pride of race glow all over them.
Canada’s officials may guard her ports of entry and pick and select from the candidates that knock for entrance into her citizenship, and it is no doubt well that they should do so. But it has always struck me that a Higher Purpose is at . work regardless of the race or affiliations of the first generation of new-comers— that our wide spaces, rugged environment and climate will mold, as the generations of native-born stock succeed one another, people of distinctive traits and potentialities. To take liberties with Milton:
Canada, “th’ empiric alchymist, “Can turn, or holds it possible to turn “Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold.”