Empire Settlement Act Migrants

Under the provisions of the Empire Settlement Act (ESA), 1922, 130,000 immigrants came to Canada, married couples, single agricultural labourers, domestics and juveniles aged 14 – 17, were assisted. That’s according to the Canadian Council for Refugees,

That number is perhaps 11,000 greater than those recorded for whom warrants were issued, as shown in the lower curve in the figure. It peaks in 1927 and 1928 at close to 28,500.

The figure is from  ‘Leaven for the lump’: Canada and Empire settlement, 1918-1939, by John A. Schultz in Emigrants and Empire: British Settlement in the Dominions Between the Wars (Studies in Imperialism), Constantine, Stephen [Editor], Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York, 1990)

How many stayed? There was no systematic tracking. Schultz has patchy evidence.

Of the 18,790 (women) who went to Canada under the 1926 agreement, 1,517 eventually married but a similar number, 1,716, returned to the United Kingdom by choice or were deported. The others were trapped by the onset of the depression and remained on the rolls of the Women’s Branch which was responsible for their welfare. The romantic notion that young British women would find a virile Canadian mate and breed a future Empire race must have seemed a bitter farce to most.

Were they trapped, or just lost track of? Did they go the the US as so many other immigrants did?

Based on the total number of British immigrants in the graph through the whole period, I’m not convinced the program made much difference.  People likely just took advantage of incentives, loans and discounted rates for their passage. Wouldn’t you?

One Reply to “Empire Settlement Act Migrants”

  1. My mother’s parents arrived in Canada in 1920. Jobs were hard to come by, and especially when my grandfather had been badly injured and disfiguerd in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He became a mailman BT

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