Crossroads of Culture 200 Years of Canadian Immigration (1800-2000)
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Historical Overview of Immigration to Canada

Opening the West

Once the best farmlands in Quebec and Ontario were fully cultivated, farmers in eastern Canada took an interest in the "northwest". Settlement of western Canada became a national priority.

Elected in 1873, the Conservatives offered a threefold approach to prosperity:

  • a tariff would protect the rising manufacturing sector
  • the transcontinental railway would be completed
  • homestead lands would be made available on a very large scale in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Yet, it took another party, the Liberals in 1896, to initiate the steps needed to bring settlers in. Under Minister of the Interior, Clifford Sifton, the apparatus for recruiting and settling immigrants on a scale that could rapidly fill those lands was put into play.

Over the next nineteen years, three million immigrants from the United States, Britain and other European countries arrived in Canada, half of whom moved to the Prairies.