- National Unity
- A Strong Central Government
- Minority Rights
- National Expansion
- Railways and Economic Development
- Cultural Nationalism
Immigration and Settlement in the West
The economic development of the western provinces and territories depended, in large part, on their settlement by immigrants [see Immigration and Settlement]. The population of Manitoba, the North-West Territories, and British Columbia doubled during the 1880s. In 1890 civil servant William Duncan SCOTT was put in charge of “Manitoba’s immigration program in central and eastern Canada”:
“He aggressively promoted the western province in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, as well as in Michigan, attending dozens of meetings of Farmers’ Institutes and farmers’ picnics. He had to persuade potential settlers that it was worth their while to purchase land in Manitoba, where free land was largely already taken, rather than seek free homesteads farther west, and also ‘that in settling in Manitoba they are not leaving civilization, but going into a country with all the advantages of churches, schools, roads, etc.’ When he met steamers in Halifax and Montreal, he had to counter propaganda amongst prospective immigrants to the effect that there was no work in Manitoba and that they ‘would freeze in winter.’”
After winning the 1896 election, Prime Minister Wilfrid LAURIER and his minister of the interior, Clifford SIFTON, vigorously pursued policies that encouraged settlement in the region, as described by Laurier’s biographer [see Settlement of the West]:
“[Sifton] mounted a recruiting campaign of a kind not seen since confederation. Blacks, city folk, and a few other groups were excepted; everyone else was invited to come and build the west.… A different region gradually came into being, more individualistic, competitive, and cosmopolitan than the rest.”
Among the groups who were not invited were eastern and southern Europeans and the Chinese [see Xenophopia; and Chinese Migrants]. Canada’s policies, which welcomed selected immigrants to settle in the west, entailed the shoving aside of Indigenous people who had lived there for generations [see The Indian Act of 1876, Residential Schools, and Reservations; and Relations with Indigenous Peoples]. Economic development would be accompanied by political and social unrest [see Thomas ENGLISH; James Hurst HAWTHORNTHWAITE].
For more information on immigration and settlement, consult the biographies in the following lists.