Immigration And Repatriation in Canada
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
" Though unto the ends of the world fate lures us wide and far,
Our heart's with the land of the pine, our home with the Northern Star, And tho' we have housed with strangers, and journeyed by sea and land, We are ever the sons of the North, as the world shall understand.
" Not easy of speech are we with you, for whom we feign no art, And if little our lip has spoken, you know how full our heart ;
So work, we shall work for you, till the name that is ours be yours ; Work, we shall work, knowing well we stand while the North endures.
" With a faith as the faith of children, and the hunger of homeless men, Awaiting the time we northward turn, tho' we know not how nor when. We, Canadians to the heart-core, Canadian, blood and bone, We yet shall turn to our home-land, and some day know our own."
—Arthur J. Stringer.
IT has already been pointed out that the great need of Canada at the present time is population. This emptiness of the land was the fact that made the deepest impression on the mind of the Duke of York while on his recent tour through the country. His words in this connection will bear repeating here:
"No one who had the privilege of enjoying the experiences which we have had during our tour could fail to be struck with one all-prevailing and pressing demand—the want of population. Even in the oldest of our colonies there were abundant signs of this need. Boundless tracts of country yet unexplored, hidden mineral wealth calling for development, vast expanses of virgin soil ready to yield profitable crops to the settlers. And these can be enjoyed under conditions of healthy living, liberal laws, free institutions, in exchange for the crowded cities and the almost hopeless struggle for existence, which, alas, too often is the lot of many in the Old Country."
The truthfulness of this to every studious Canadian is as apparent as it was to the Duke of York, and probably more painfully so. One of the great problems, therefore, which confronts our statesmen is that of the increasing of our population.
The importance of this is the more apparent when it is remembered that this is pre-eminently the age of modern dispersion. There seems to be a spirit moving deeply in the minds of all people of continental Europe to migrate to an extent that has never been known before. " One of the most remarkable, and, perhaps, portentous movements of the present period of transition in the history of the world is to be seen in the general breaking up and spreading abroad into other lands of people who have been confined within the boundaries of their own countries for many centuries. A spirit of unrest, with a desire for change, seems to have penetrated the most stagnant regions, and lines of steam-ships profit by transporting shiploads of living human freight from east to west, the outflow of countries where a few years ago none such ever dreamed of emigrating from their ancestral homes." Let us hope, therefore, that in this important matter we stand on the threshold of a better day, by making a stronger bid for the floating millions who seek the star of empire in the West.
There can be no true prosperity until this comes to pass. However rich the resources of the country or fertile her plains, they count for comparatively little if there is not population to give them value. With an abundance of acres and but few people, land can be bought for a song ; when a contrary condition prevails and population is dense, land values mount skyward. That is the reason that business lots in the heart of London are worth their area covered with guineas.
The application of this truth to lands in the Canadian Wrest is obvious. Here in Canada there is much land and few people. The Dominion has a larger area of land than the United States, but with one-twelfth of her population. The Republic has seventy-six million people. Canada has less than six million. The United States lands are practically exhausted. The Anglo-Saxon is born to be-come a land owner. It is one of the instincts of his. nature to acquire some plot of earth that he may call his own. Those who possessed the land in the United States found the demand keen and the supply limited. As an inevitable result prices appreciated. In Canada that condition does not prevail to nearly the same extent, and in consequence prices are advancing with much less rapidity. There are, however, abundant evidences that the upward tendency of land values has come to Canada. Let us seek to attract the seeking millions of other lands to our shores.
There is another important respect in which the population of Canada can, and indeed, must be augmented. In many respects it is of more importance than the matter of the incoming of foreign peoples. This is the checking of the exodus of the native born Canadians in its outflow to the neighboring republic, and also the repatriation of those who have already gone. The outflow of people from an old and densely populated country is a natural consequence, and a benefit alike to the people who go and those who remain, but the diversion of the scant population from a new and virgin country is both unnatural and disgraceful. Perhaps no other country in the world presents the same spectacle with regard to this as does Canada, though, perhaps it may be added in extenuation, that no country has had the same temptation placed before her citizens.
It is estimated that there are at the present time over one million native born Canadians in the United States; this represents in round numbers one-fifth of our total population. The thought is appalling, but it is much more appalling when we remember that the people of Canadian extraction that have found homes across the border number not less than three millions. In other words, if all native Canadians had remained within their country, they, with their descendants, would have now made her population between three and four millions more than it is at the present time, giving us something like nine or ten millions of a population, instead of less than six. Canada has room and reward for all her sons, and more than that, has great need of their presence in the development of her virgin wealth.
In the past it is true Canada has not been in a position to offer her sons the same advantages as were open to them elsewhere. Rich though the country undoubtedly was, its riches were locked up and they could not be obtained without the golden key of capital with which to release them ; hence their removal to places where their abilities and talents won suitable recognition. These disadvantages, however, have largely disappeared, and it is very doubtful if there are now any advantages to be had in seeking one's fortune in a foreign land. We cannot, however, be oblivious to the fact that there is still a great lack of national spirit in young Canadians, which makes it easy for them to sacrifice their natural allegiance, and look with envious eyes at the prospects of a foreign country, at the same time regarding their native land as of very little value.
It is notable that a native-born American should call the attention of young Canadians to this fact, thus pointing out their reproach. Mr. F. H. Clergue, of Sault Ste. Marie, not long since expressed the opinion that no other country in the world possessed such great wealth of undeveloped resources as Canada, and declared that the chief reason why these resources have not been developed in the past, is that Canadians did not believe in their own country. " The parents of young men begin to correspond for positions in the United States before they are out of school, and the Canadian laborer is constantly seeking protection to his life, liberty and property under the Stars and Stripes. . This condition of things has long continued, and the inhabitants of Canada apparently have come to the conclusion that the imaginary line drawn between the two countries by treaty left everything desirable to the south and everything intolerable to the north."
This may not be very complimentary to Canadian patriotism, but it cannot be denied that it is, to a large extent, only too true. Let Canadians ponder these words of a stranger with shame. If Scott, as he thought of his little land, no larger than the province of New Brunswick, could be aroused to sing
" Lives there a man with soul so dead, Who never to himself has said, This is my own, my native land?"
surely Canadians, as they look over half a continent, with all its wondrous richness, should be able to sing the same song with more fervency and with a deeper meaning. Let the native energy of all Canadians, coupled with a worthy national spirit, born of faith in their country, make conditions such that in a national sense every son and daughter of the soil will say, both from sentiment and material. motives, " There is no place like home."
There is room to believe that simultaneously with the solving of the exodus problem would come, to a large degree, the solving of the expatriation problem. The vast majority of those who have gone over the border-for material reasons still retain the tenderest memories of their native land, and only. remain away because of supposed material advantages. They have no preference, as a rule, for the institutions or people with whom their lot is cast, while they hold nothing but sentiments of love and loyalty to the flag and country of their birth. Many, too, find that the material advantages which they sought are, to a large extent, more imaginary than real.
Like the scattered Jews, for the most part these self-made Canadian exiles still cherish their distinctive origin, and are organized for social purposes and retain their former citizenship. The memories of the dear old home are still precious and prompt their return. Only let the loving hand of a prosperous country and patriotic people be extended to these exiled sons and daughters, and right gladly will the majority of them come again to dwell with joy in the land of their birth.