Who’s Who in ‘Who’s Who’

Emigration to the United States is costing Canada far too many of her ‘best brains’

BERNARD K. SANDWELL October 1 1927

Who’s Who in ‘Who’s Who’

Emigration to the United States is costing Canada far too many of her ‘best brains’

BERNARD K. SANDWELL October 1 1927

Who’s Who in ‘Who’s Who’

Emigration to the United States is costing Canada far too many of her ‘best brains’


A CANADIAN of English-speaking parentage, who removes to the United States, has a forty per cent, better chance of getting into the American ‘Who’s Who’ than a native-born American.

Measured by the ‘Who’s Who’ standard (which, with certain limitations, is not at all a bad standard), English-speaking Canadians in the United States produce forty per cent. more great men per hundred thousand of their total numbers than do the native Americana.

They produce a far higher ratio of great men than any other non-American element in the American population, with the single exception of Australia. The Australian migration to the United States, as will be shown later, is governed by precisely the same forces as the Canadian, except that the selective factor is even stronger.

The only other non-American element in the American population which produces more great men than the native Americans is the English of England, and they are only twelve per cent, above the native figure. France is almost at par, with a great-man ratio of ninety-eight; and as the French immigrant to the United States has to face the handicap of a new language, we may conclude that the average quality of French immigration is perhaps as high as the English. The Irish, with no language handicap, produce only twenty-nine great men where the Americans produce one hundred.

Canadians at the Top

TF WE could eliminate certain callings in which no -*■ immigrant race can be expected to shine under any circumstances, the attainments of Canadians in the really open callings would appear much higher. One of the weaknesses of the American ‘Who’s Who,’ as compared at any rate with the British one, is that it is overloaded with persons engaged in ‘government’. An immense number of offices and representative seats, not only in the federal government but in the numerous state governments, automatically entitle their holders to admission to Who’s Who; but it would be straining the language to claim that all of these governing persons are really great men. It is obvious, however, that native Americans have a great advantage in the race for any positions of this character; and hence it causes no surprise to find that in ‘government’ Canadians occupy less than half the positions to which they would be entitled if mere numbers determined the question.

Law is another pursuit in which the home-grown citizen has a distinct advantage, although Canadians do not do badly even in American law. The determining factor

against Canadians (or any other foreigners) in both these vocations is that the man who is going to attain success in them in the United States must remove to that country quite early in life and start working up from the bottom, and even then he is at a disadvantage against the man who was born on the spot. In such pursuits as education, religion, music, the Canadian can develop his powers up to a high degree in his own country and then, with reputation already established, can seek recognition in the adjoining republic. He does not always have to seek it; many of the Canadian holders of high positions in these walks of life were sought for by American institutions on account of what they had already achieved or were achieving in Canada.

The author of the ‘Who’s Who’ statistics with which we are now dealing, the eminent geographer and economist, Ellsworth Huntington, suggests that on account of these difficulties in certain vocations some adjustments ought to be made in he statistics. In order to arrive at a correct estimate of the ‘great-man’ producing powers of the different non-American elements in the population of the United States, he suggests a correction factor, based on the degree of difficulty which each race may be supposed to find in establishing itself among the native Americans; and he finds, quite naturally, that Englishspeaking Canadians require less of a correction factor than any other element. He suggests that if Canadian immigrants produced ninety per cent, of the number of great men per hundred thousand produced by the native Americans, they could fairly be regarded as being equal to the native American stock. As they actually produce 140 per cent., they must be taken to be about fifty-five per cent, higher in quality.

Can We Afford to Lose Our Best?

AT FIRST glance, these figures are highly satisfactory ■E*to the national pride of Canadians. On more careful consideration, however, they elicit an entirely different set of feelings. If it were possible to believe that the average Canadian is really fifty-five per cent, abler than the average American, and hence that our emigration to the United States was merely an average of our citizenship, and left us no worse off (except numerically) than we should be without the emigration, then the thing would not be so bad. But proud and all as we are, it

is hardly possible for any sensible Canadian to entertain such a belief as that. The Huntington calculation is based on a ratio of one ‘Who’s Who’ character to every 951 adult males: Canada (English-speaking) has at present 1.4 ‘Who’s Who’ persons to every 951 adult male Canadians in the United States. But nobody supposes that if another million of such Canadians were exported to the United States in the next few years they, too, would produce over 1,400 additional Canadians in ‘Who’s Who’.

It is not the average Canadian who shines so much more brightly than the average American that he gets into ‘Who’s Who’ half as often again as he ought to. It is merely the average ‘emigrant Canadian’, which is an entirely different thing. The plain deduction from the ‘Who’s Who’ figures is that the Canadians who remove from their birthland to the United States are, on average, a much higher type, not merely than the Americans, but also than their fellow-Canadians. And, therefore, that the American drift represents not merely a loss in numbers but, what is far more serious, a very deplorable loss in point of quality.

Indeed the whole subject of Mr. Huntington’s book, ‘The Pulse of Progress’, in which these interesting figures appear, is the selective power of migration. One of his chief chapters bears as caption the telling phrase, ‘The Dominance of Nomads’. He is contemptuous, reasonably and systematically contemptuous, towards people who stay where they are. This does not mean, of course, that a man must necessarily move out of one sovereignty into another if he is to show that there is anything in him. An Ontario man who goes to Alberta is not necessarily, according to Mr. Huntington, inferior to an Ontario man who goes to Minnesota. But generally speaking, either of these men will on the average be superior to the Ontario man who stays at home. And a nation which over a long period of time loses the best of its migrating elements by removal to another nation will lose that which nothing can possibly replace.

There is, of course, a certain counter-movement of American-born persons into Canada. We have unfortun-. ately in Canada no ‘Who’s Who’ edited upon principles of vselection which would make it of any use as an indicator,of greatness; so no statistician can as yet estimate the. greatness-ratio of these American immigrants in comparison with that of the stay-at-home native Canadians. Undoubtedly they are of a high type, far more likely to get into a properly-constituted ‘Who’s Who’ than any other class of our immigrants. But they are not numerous , enough to compensate for our losses. There were only ;

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374,024 persons of United States birth in Canada in the 1921 census; and of these 214,563 were living in rural localities, which are never highly productive of finished greatness—however valuable they may be as a source of the raw material for it. Compare this with the 1,117,878 of Canadian-born persons living in the United States in the census of 1920, of whom 810,092 were non-French, and who almost certainly are to be found for the most part in urban areas.

Even if the American migration to Canada was as heavy and as prolific of greatness as the Canadian migration to the United States, the exchange could hardly be quite satisfactory to Canada. The United States is some twelve times the size of Canada. If it lost one 240th part of its population to Canada, and received in return the same number of Canadians of the same high calibre, the exchange would not be sufficient to exert any appreciable influence on the nation’s ideals or polity, or to render it in any perceptible degree less American. But that same exchange would mean that Canada was losing one-twentieth of its native population and receiving in return the same number of persons, of the same ability, but with American ideals and training. This would be amply sufficient to constitute a very perceptible alien influence, working along the same lines as the influence of the other Americanising forces, especially the popujar periodical press, to which we are already so greatly exposed by reason of our geography. No; if we must lose a million of our best people to the United States, we cannot afford to take payment for them in anything like the same number of equally able and influential Americans.

Where Canadians Excel

YY/'HEN we come to consider the lines VV in which our expatriated Canadians shine, the case becomes even sadder; for (always barring government) they are precisely the lines in which we ourselves are most urgently in need of light and leading. Mr. Huntington has not given us an analysis of the whole area of the United States by professions in ‘Who’s Who’; but he has made such an analysis of the area including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. In this area, which is essentially an area of recent immigration, in which foreign-born persons are still very plentiful, the number of eminent Canadian-born persons is much higher than in the country at large. The number of Canadians engaged in government is less than one-half of what would be expected from an equal number of native Americans; but every other profession shows the Canadians far in advance. The most notable attainment is in medicine, 477 per cent., or nearly five times as many Canadian-born doctors of eminence as would be expected from the same number of Americans. This, of course, is due to the pre-eminence during the latter part of the nineteenth century of certain Canadian medical schools; medical education in the United States has since caught up, but its graduates are not yet old enough to have got into ‘Who’s Who’ in any great numbers.

The next item is music, but this is partly accounted for by the extreme incapacity of the native Americans in this particular line; it is no great triumph to produce 477 eminent musicians where the Americans produce only one hundred (the figures, of course, are ratios only, and the real number of musicians in ‘Who’s Who’ is very small). Education comes next with 353, and religion follows with 344, and after that we drop through art, literature, journalism, to things in which American competition becomes keener, such as business 231, engineering 163, law 121 and science 117.

Now we may have enough eminent doctors and surgeons in Canada to rub along with, and anyhow the services of such persons are likely to be somewhat international. . If they are engaged in research, their work benefits the human race all over the world. If they are in surgery or specialist practice, the wealthy Canadian can, and does, pack himself up and resort to their aid almost as freely in Minnesota as in Montreal. We may or may not have enough eminent musicians. But it is absolutely certain that we could do with a vast number more of really great educationists, religious leaders, artists, literary men and journalists. And here we are feeding our best and ablest in all these lines with a lavish hand to the neighboring republic!

Flow Still Continues

A NUMBER of recent speeches by YL eminent educationists who belong to Canada and are still in Canada, such as Sir Arthur Currie, principal of McGill, and J. M. R. Fairbairn, president of the Engineering Alumni of Toronto, have indicated that this situation is attracting the attention of thinking Canadians. In Ontario an important committee has been formed for the purpose of studying the problem presented by this expatriation of our best human material. And it is both interesting and, for Canadians, important to consider what are the causes of this much too successful selective migration, and what can be done to lessen it.

Mr. Huntington’s book lays its chief stress on the attractive power of good land. But good land in his usage is obviously to be interpreted in a very broad sense. It embraces the whole of those areas (including the cities which form their distribution centres) in which the combination of natural resources, transportation facilities, good public institutions and a good supply of capital make it easy to procure a good living. Now Canadians suppose themselves, and rightly, to possess a great deal of very ‘good land’ indeed in this sense of the term. But there are certain reasons why, to a great number of native Canadians, American land seems better. It seemed better to the million or so of Canadian-born in the States who contributed this immense excess of talented men to the last edition of the American ‘Who’s Who’. They, of course must have migrated for the most part, ten, twenty or even thirty years ago. But, alas! it is still seeming better to the young Canadians in their twenties at this very day. We are told that no less than one-fifth of the entire graduating class of the School of Applied Science of the University of Toronto in 1923 found employment in the United States. These are the men who will fill up the American ‘Who’s Who’ of 1950 with Canadian names! Some of them will doubtless return after getting some American experience; some of them may well have been Americans by birth; but the size of this migration of our young technicians is too portentous to cause anything but genuine alarm, no matter how much we may try to whittle it down by explanations.

How to Lessen the ‘Drag’

OOD land, in brief, means good opportunities. Is there any truth in this belief, so evidently held by a great number of our native Canadians, that they will find better opportunities in the United States? It is the opinion of the present writer, based upon many years of observation and inquiry, that there is a certain foundation of truth in it, in two respects. In both respects, but particularly in the first, Canadians could do a great deal to lessen the ‘drag’ possessed by the United States.

The great bulk of migration takes place at one of two stages in the career of the migrant: one, when he is just starting out in life, or is near enough to his first start to be able to make a second one; the other, when he has already achieved a position of some prominence and attracts the attention of employers or clients with more wealth than those whom he is already serving. There’ is a ‘Youth Migration and a ‘Prime of Life Migration’.

American employers do frequently look more like ‘Good Land’ to the Youth Migration, because they are frequently better equipped for, and better disposed towards, the trying out of new workers, especially those who can offer some credentials of training, as in the case of our young friends from the University of Toronto School of Science. The American employer is systematically'selective; the Canadian employer is more inclined to be systematically retentive. The American, who is already employing A, will take on B for a week or a month, not because he urgently needs him, but because he thinks it worth while to pay both A. and B for a time in order to drop A if B prove to be the better man. The Canadians will not engage B until A dies or moves to some other employer, or until the growth of his business makes another man indispensable. At first glance the Canadian method looks more humane; in reality it is unfair to B, who may be the better man, in order to be kind to A, who may be in the wrong sort of job, and who under the American system would "have much less difficulty in changing into a place more suited to his abilities. The Canadian very often ‘cannot be bothered’ with new and raw human material; he wants somebody else to try it out and lick it into shape. The American is curious and hopeful about all the raw material that presents itself, and especially about Canadian raw material, which he has found by experience to be slightly above the American average in quality. Much could be done about this. The Technical Services Council proposes to see that something is done.

The Prime of Life Migration is a more difficult matter. A great, wealthy and historic Canadian church endeavored the other day to bring back to Canada a native Canadian who ranks high among those Canadian religious leaders who bulk so large in the American ‘Who’s Who’. It failed. He has a large family to bring up, and it could not offer him a salary which would allow him to give that family the same educational facilities as they enjoy where they now are. The Americans are an exceedingly, perhaps an appallingly, wealthy people. They are buying up the works of art, the antiquities and the beauty spots of the Old World at a tremendous rate, and it is perhaps too much to expect that they will not similarly buy up our best Canadian talent when it has made itself visible to the world at large.

About this we may console ourselves to some extent that there is a selective factor at work which will operate to our advantage. Not all of our conspicuously talented men will ever migrate to the United States, no matter what the financial inducements; and the process of selection will tend to leave in Canada those whose Canadianism, whose feeling of affection for their native land, is stronger; it is those who are less consciously Canadian who will, generally speaking, accept the high rewards of American pulpits, American colleges, American newspapers and American business enterprise. A hundred years of such weedingout should give us a pretty intense national consciousness; for the nation as a whole undoubtedly takes its attitude on

such matters very largely from its leading men.

We Need Large Cities

'T'HERE is a third principle at work in

this migration, too, which is much too important to be ignored. It may be termed the principle of ‘Metropolitanism,’ and it works with particular vigor in those classes which contribute most to the population of any good ‘Who’s Who’. It is the principle in virtue of which certain of the most conspicuous of human callings can only be pursued in a large centre of population, and can be the more successfully pursued, the larger the centre becomes.

It is not possible for a grand opera singer, in the active pursuit of his or her vocation, to be domiciled in Medicine Hat, nor in Winnipeg, nor even in Montreal. It is quite possible for him to be domiciled in New York; in fact the most conspicuous opera singers of the world are now domiciled in precisely that city. This is merely the most extreme example of a long series of callings more or less governed by the same factor. All touring performers, whether they be violinists, lecturers, actors or acrobats, gravitate towards the single centre from which their territory is ‘booked’. Financiers of the first rank are only to be found in the largest money markets. Great students cluster round the largest libraries, which in turn are more likely to be found in the largest centres. Great executives find their way to the offices of great corporations, which are in great cities.

Metropolitanism draws many Canadians from the rural parts to Montreal and Toronto. But we have no city exceeding a million population; and Metropolitanism in its intensest forms draws thousands of ambitious Canadians to New York and Chicago because there is neither a New York nor a Chicago in the Dominion. They do not all succeed in their ambitions, but the whole mass of them is the soil out of which the successes, the ‘Who’s Who’ people, arise and grow. And on average, taking successes and failures and half-way attainments together, they are a pretty high-grade mass of Canadians—much too good a mass for us to lose without worrying about it.

We cannot abolish Metropolitanism; it is one of the great basic forces of modern life. All we can do is to grow a bigger metropolis of our own. We are doing it, Montreal and Toronto and Winnipeg and Vancouver to-day are great enough to satisfy the metropolitanist cravings of many thousands of Canadians who a generation ago would have been irresistibly lured to New York. No Canadian, wherever he dwells, should resent the continuing and rapid growth of these centres, for without it the chief force impelling our young people to leave their own land would be even stronger than it is. If we had a Toronto of two million people that force would be almost abolished. We might even have domiciled grand opera singers and domiciled symphony orchestra players.

Australia is simply Canada at a rather greater distance from the United States. The greater difficulty of getting out of Australia lessens the number of those who leave, but raises their average quality. Australians are not on the average more able or more brilliant than Canadians; but emigration from Australia is even more intensely selective. Selective emigration from Australia does not cause much worry to the Australians, because the whole amount of it is small. Selective emigration from Canada should be a cause of very great worry to Canadians, partly because it is so large, but much more because it is also so selective.