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Growth and Development, Immigration

head tax, Asian immigrants, eastern cities, Chinese immigrants, steamships

As prosperity increased, immigration also grew. Late in the 19th century, new arrivals had barely exceeded those leaving Canada, most often for the United States. In the first decade of the 20th century, however, more than a million people came and stayed. The population grew 34 percent from 1901 to 1911, and another 22 percentóto 8 millionóby 1921. The great majority of the immigrants came to the English-speaking areas of Canada.

The immigrants came partly from Britain and the United States, but for the first time Canada recruited large numbers from eastern Europe. They left their homes to escape poverty and political strife, and were attracted to Canada by promises of free land made to them by Canadian recruiters. They crossed the Atlantic on steamships run by the Canadian Pacific and often headed west on immigrant trains to settle on the vast tracts of farmland that the Canadian Pacific had been granted by the government. They lived in sod huts, broke the prairie soil, and planted Marquis wheat, a new variety that Canadian government scientists had developed for prairie conditions. Settlement expanded across the prairie lands, and two new provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, were created out of the Northwest Territories in 1905.

Many Canadians, however, feared and resented the presence of non-British foreigners. A powerful backlash developed against them, as it did against the Asian immigrants to British Columbia and the Jewish, Italian, and other migrants to the eastern cities. For instance, a head tax was imposed on Chinese immigrants in the 1880s, which prevented most Chinese men from bringing their families to Canada. During World War I (1914-1918), wartime fears were added to existing suspicions, and thousands of aliens were interned. In addition, aliens from enemy countries who had been naturalized after 1902 were stripped of the right to vote.

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