Can We Stem the Exodus?

MacLean's readers discuss the pros and cons of the argument concerning the need for a national effort to keep Canadian brains in Canada

September 15 1927

Can We Stem the Exodus?

MacLean's readers discuss the pros and cons of the argument concerning the need for a national effort to keep Canadian brains in Canada

September 15 1927

Can We Stem the Exodus?

MacLean's readers discuss the pros and cons of the argument concerning the need for a national effort to keep Canadian brains in Canada

TO THE Editor of MacLean’s Magazine: I have followed with interest and curiosity the series of articles on the Canadian Exodus; and observe the formation of a body of prominent citizens pledged to 'do something' to see that the college graduate at least stays in Canada and is given an opportunity to make good. The organization you have referred to includes more than one ’employing engineer.’ f regret to state that as a class their practices have not always appeared very consistent with their present profession of altruism.

tn 1910 with five years’ general engineering experience I had just concluded five months on an important river survey. One of the most prominent of your recently ¡

formed organization, having been engaged for the development of power at a particular point on that river, discussed hiring me for a detailed survey at that point having f

in view the acceptance of certain plans by ¡

the Government. I offered to work for the pay I had just been receiving, $125.00 and expenses, as I was uncertain whether I wished to continue in government work.

He thought that was ‘a lot of money.’ I

suggested that I could put my own instru

ments on the work, bringing them from Toronto. Still he thought I wanted ‘too much money’ and that the instruments could be borrowed for a time from the City Engineer who was rather directlyinterested.

Eventually he hired my former assistant at $90.00. It is not the fault of that assistant that the power plant has never been completed. I

Other 'members' in this profession who have sat on fatuous committees, and drawn 1

up schedules of fees and salaries recom| mended for the engineering services in the | various Governments, do not from results achieved, rank any higher in my humble estimation when seen as employers.

A graduate architect from Manitoba University who could not get an offer exceeding $100 a month in Winnipeg, goes to Chicago, and by reason of rather exceptional qualifications, gets $100 a week.

Think of $100 a month in modern times! Is this professional? Now let some employer of engineers jump down my throat.

Winnipeg. G. P. Morse

Something to Think About

Edmonton, Alta.

To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

Re ‘Can we stem the exodus?’

Yes. It is the constant dripping of publicity that wears away the stone of general ignorance. Article two has set some of our local folks thinking and thinking hard. Go to it—an electric button can accomplish nothing unless it is pushed. (Miss) Florence Potts.

Is This the Key?

Ganges Harbor, British Columbia. To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

The subject of your exodus articles lies very close to my heart and I think that your statements are incontrovertible.

Some time ago I asked these same questions:

‘Can we stem the exodus from Canada’ and ‘what are we going to do about it?’

I received a great many letters—not in reply, for they contained only other questions along the same line. No one offered any solution of the problem that was troubling me and my friends. For, my son, my foster-son and my daughter were working in the States. My friends’ and neighbors' sons and daughters were doing the same because, though in their hearts they longed for their homes and family ties, their own country offered them nothing. The position of labor is so very bad over here. Unless we can remedy this we shall always rank among the failures. Can we never learn that the wealth of a country lies in

the thoughts of her people? Why are we taught to think of nothing but THRIFT, when it is Canadian thrift that means exile for our children and loneliness for ourselves?

The other day I came upon a goose who was trying to cover four dozen eggs: I enclose a sketch of her. We might like to use it for our trade mark.

Constance E. Allen.

Use Our Brains, Says He

Kew Gardens, Long Island, U.S.A. To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

I am writing this note to say that I think your plan of circularizing Canadians in the United States to determine what their reasons were for leaving Canada is a very good one. I believe it can be correctly described as a ‘research investigation’; at least the method is that of research. As one who has worked for four or five years at research work in a large research organization I am a firm believer in the value of this method of attacking problems, even ones which seem impossible of solution. What I wish to say chiefly is that I should like to see a department of research in immigration started in Canada. The National Research Council gives grants for the investigation of problems which will aid industry in Canada, but these investigations are confined to finding new uses for products, and so forth. Immigration, or the lack of it, is supposed to be Canada’s largest problem now, and it should not be attacked by empirical methods, or with pre-conceived ideas, or sporadically. It should be given the full attention of a corps of competent men with the research attitude of mind and working over a long period of time. There are so many factors, largely of a psychological nature, which appear to be entirely neglected; and so many conditions which appear to be accepted as inevitable and natural in the development of Canada that a thorough investigation might be very valuable. Edward J. Murphy.

What’s Wrong Here?

Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Que. To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

I have been much interested in your series of articles entitled, ‘Can We Stem the Exodus?’, and have inquired whether this series is likely to be published separately. I think it could do good service in a separate form distributed amongst the leading business men of the country.

I would suggest that you try to get from Dr. E. H. Duncan, Fredonia, N.Y., an account of his experience and opinion. Dr. Duncan’s two brothers, Robert Kennedy Duncan and Norman Duncan were students in the University of Toronto, the former graduating in 1892. Upon his taking a high school teaching position in Auburn, N.Y., the family of Mother and three sons moved to the United States. The two elder brothers spent the rest of their lives there, both obtaining distinction. Ernest received his training in dentistry in the University of Pennsylvania, an institution whose preeminence in this department is, I think, generally recognized.

After twenty years practice he, having retained Canadian citizenship, thought of returning to Canada to practise, but was informed that he could not be admitted to the profession in Ontario without a year’s study in the University of Toronto. At the age of fifty-one he is taking out naturalization papers in the United States. This will suggest to you that it is not only the business men in Canada who are blind to the importance of encouraging the return of Canadians to their native land.

I do not know what consideration you have given to the migration of Americans to Canada and the return of Canadians from the United States, which to some extent compensates for the exodus. We have in our community a few American men occupying positions of importance. On the staff of our college there are at least four of American birth, as well as some others like myself who have returned to . Canada after residence of some years in the United States. Doubtless in the newly developed parts of the country there is a considerable number of Americans, many of them with University training. Brains is a commodity in which there is a considerable measure of reciprocity between the two countries. Collegeman.

‘Let Him Who Hath No Sin . . .’


To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

We notice in your late issue a splendid article in which you endeavor to show what is wrong with Canada.

The article in question is the one concerning the fiftyfour university boys applying to the Canadian manufacturers for positions in which only two were successful.

This was a splendid idea but you have not gone quite far enough and we would suggest that you send out fiftyfour investigators at a zero hour to the homes of each of these boys and make a thorough investigation as to the wearing apparel, rugs, shoes, hats, gloves, underwear, automobiles and general purchases pertaining to their homes. What portion of these purchases are of Made-inCanada goods.

I think you will discover that the Canadian manufacturer is not getting the support of the Canadian public. The Canadian public should demand Canadian made merchandise. It would be an easy matter to absorb these educated Canadian boys were the Canadian manufacturers receiving the whole-hearted support of the Canadian buying public.

What we want in Canada is not higher tariff but the whole-hearted support of the Canadian public in demanding and wearing Canadian-made productions.

As a start we would suggest that you check over the

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hats on the hat-rack of your employees, and also check off the hat rack of the Board of Trade luncheon, and the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association at Toronto, and do the same in Montreal if possible. You will likely be surprised at the disloyalty of our own manufacturers and business men to their brother manufacturers, and there is no use bill-boarding the country asking the Canadian Public to buy Canadian-made goods when there is no loyalty among the manufacturers themselves.

Ogie McLennan and Bill Dunseith. P.S. We do not sell hats, but it is pretty hard to check a man’s underwear—which we do sell.

The College Man’s Value

Toronto, Ont.

To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine: Re your articles on emigration, especially that of college men.

The Department of Trade and Commerce might spend some money in a campaign of education among employers in Canada, boosting the college man and his value both as a future executive and in the realm of scientific research.

I would suggest your developing this line of thought. Reader.

Attitude of the Banks

Vancouver, B.C.

To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine: Re the Exodus articles. The Canadian banks are among the worst offenders by reason of the low level of the salaries they pay and their importation of immigrants to accept these salaries. One great Canadian bank on one occasion brought out fifty youths from Scotland because they found that that was the only way to get service for the wages offered. Compare that treatment with the Italian Bank of

California which prefers to employ Canadians, and has so stated publicly. A friend of mine, not a university graduate, motored to California on a chance and almost at once secured employment with this bank at $100 a month and now has a large staff under him, advancement having been rapid. The employers south of the line prefer Canadians—and our governments and our banks daily demonstrate their indifference to them.

D. H. Elliott.

The Suction Pump

Montreal, P.Q. To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine: Re the Exodus: An engineering friend

here tells me that the----

Acceptance Corporation annually transfers the best fifty per cent, of its Canadian staff to the United States and fills up the Canadian vacancies with Canadians! There is the suction pump in full working order! He also holds that the better class among the young Americans are being extensively ruined by too much money in the parental home. They just won’t work. I have seen lots of cases of that in Canada, and I suppose it must be more widespread in the United States, where wealth is more universal. King Midas, if I remember right, turned his daughter into gold; the United States is doing it with both sons and daughters. “Canadian.”

One Big Yell of Protest

Guernsey, Sask.

To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine: Will you, Mr. Editor, make room in your columns for one big yell of protest against the false economists who are counting up in grudging fashion the cost of equipping our own ambassadors of peace which we are sending, year by year, to cultivate good relations with the United States. Every Canadian who goes to the

States is one more obstacle against a possible war with the United States. In the aggregate, emigration of Canadians to the United States means:

1. That we do not have to fortify and defend our southern frontier.

2. That our cities and our industria 1 life generally are not menaced by possible invasion.

These two things in themselves are more than sufficient to overbalance the losses due to the exodus. At least, so thinks, Benjamin Dowell.

A Vital Subject

Leamington, Ont. To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

I am reading with much interest the series of articles on the Exodus and am enjoying them immensely. You have tackled a very vital subject, one that touches a problem so serious nationally that every good Canadian should applaud you for launching it. Contributor.

As Simple As A B C

Toronto, Ont. To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

I was much interested in the articles on the exodus, particularly in the article about the appointment of a council to assist university-trained men to secure positions in Canada and to stem the flow of our technically equipped men to the United States.

The idea is a good one and it is devoutly to be hoped that the effort will meet with success. The difficulty still remains, however, that the manufacturers or others who might be able to use ability of this kind, cannot give employment if they have no work to be done. Here lies the big obstacle and the council will have to go deeper, before it ’ will accomplish much.

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Furthermore, the Canadian people will have to change their mind before the council will accomplish much, as at the present time they have declared emphatically for a low tariff, or at least for no changes in tariff that will help the manufacturing industry.

The ostensible reason is that the making of goods in Canada under a tariff that would keep out foreign goods would raise the price of the product. To the individual this is a natural objection, but if we have the courage of our convictions and really believe that we should use Canadian made goods and employ Canadians, we should back this opinion by asking the Government to adjust the tariff on goods that we can make, to permit of the goods being made here at Canadian wages. The whole thing is in our hands and it is as simple as A.B.C. R. Cowan.

Not So Simple

Victoria, B.C.

To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

I was quite interested in reading your article ‘Can we stem the Exodus?’, and, perhaps, my Canadian experience may add something to the reasons for the migration.

Yesterday, I got a razor from Brooklyn, X.Y., for which I paid ten cents and on arrival here the Customs collected thirteen cents duty, and to-day I received another Razor, also from Brooklyn, on which they collected eleven cents, the cost price being twenty cents. There are no safety razors made in Canada, as far as I am aware, and so the exorbitant duty protects no industry.

Last Saturday I was in Seattle, and picked up a cake of soap for five cents; for the identically same article I am charged fifteen cents anywhere in Canada. I also noticed two pounds of asparagus for twenty-five cents, while here you pay twenty-five cents for one pound, and so on ad astra.

This may suggest a clue as to why so many Canadians prefer to live in the United States,

Joseph P. Kieran.

Foolish Economy

Fenn, Alberta.

To the Editor of MacLean’s Magazine:

I was very pleased indeed to see that MacLean’s Magazine is making an attempt to discover the cause of the exodus of Canadians to the United States.

During the last few years I have been rather puzzled as to why so many graduates of the schools of agriculture in Canada and the graduates in agriculture of of our universities were taking up their life work in the United States. After many inquiries and conversations with quite a few of these men, I have come to the very definite conclusion in my own mind that as far as the graduates in scientific agriculture are concerned this exodus is due almost entirely to the extremely parsimonious reward which Canada offers to its young men of brains and that undoubtedly they can receive better rewards for their services in the United States and obtain better future prospects there also.

It is the very cream, as a rule, of our graduates who leave—the best brains, the most outstanding brains—and it is of these outstanding men that Canada is in such need.

Instances will at once occur to the mind of people who are familiar with men engaged in scientific agriculture in Canada of those who have been lured to the United States by greater financial rewards and who are now engaged in responsible positions building up the agricultural prosperity of the United States instead of the prosperity of Canada.

I find that, generally speaking, salaries paid for the average run of scientific agricultural workers are at least thirty per cent, higher in the United States than the salaries paid for similar work in Canada. This refers, of course, to salaries paid by Governments and their allied institutions.

To my mind this seems a most foolish kind of economy for Canada to indulge in. Agriculture brings in about one-half of the total revenue of Canada and it would seem that the most brilliant brains we can acquire would be none too good for the possibilities of achievement that are existing in agriculture in this country.

No only, as I have said, is the pay offered for most of the work much more in the United States but there is an even more striking difference in the pay offered for the very top positions. In the words of one young graduate who spoke to me concerning this matter: ‘Even though one worked hard for years and was successful in Canada there is at the end not much of a job worth aiming for.’

What is the remedy? As I see it, it is an immediate recognition on the part of the Government that these men upon whom this country depends for its future advancement are worthy of their hire. A recognition of the fact that to obtain really constructive and good scientific achievement the worker must receive such pay that he is absolved from the ordinary petty financial worries of domestic life so that he can apply his entire energies to the piece of work he has in hand.

Generally speaking, this freedom from financial worry is granted by United States institutions but not by Canadian institutions.

Furthermore, the few higher up positions in agriculture that may be open to those who succeed in attaining them should offer such a reward that they may be well worth striving for and attaining.

During the past few years I have made the acquaintance of a great many of the men engaged in scientific work in Canada in all branches—research work, promotion work, extension work, field work, and experimental work. And the thing that amazes me, above all others, is to see the keen enthusiasm and interest these men display in their desire to do something for the Canadian farmer, but I cannot help but feel, at the same time, rather disgusted at the very parsimonious reward Canada offers them.

I am sure that the publicity that MacLean’s is giving to this matter and any special publicity it could give to this particular line of agricultural work would be of tremendous benefit to Canada. We have the resources here, we are able to develop the men and to educate those who are capable of utilizing these natural resources, but as yet we are unable to retain for work in this country the men upon whom we have expended so much effort. If, as I feel sure myself is the case it is merely a matter of offering them a decent reward for their services, then the matter should be an easy one of solution.

H. G. L. Strange.