Transition era (1861-1880)
From 1861 to 1880, Canadian immigration changed radically. However, the number of arrivals remained substantially the same, with some 25 000 immigrants coming ashore at Québec City during these two decades, compared with 30 000 per year in the previous period. Nearly 60% of immigrants came from Great Britain. Now a minority among this group, the Irish preferred to head for the United States, where the industrial revolution was creating an urgent need for manpower.
During this period, two notable phenomena characterized the nation of origin of immigrants: first, a strong increase in Scandinavian immigration (30% of immigrants), and, from the 1870s on, the beginnings of ethnic diversification. Russians, Belgians, Italians, Icelanders and others had already begun coming to Canada, in what was to remain a growing trend. However, 50% to 70% of the immigrants who landed in Québec City would then go on to the United States.
Throughout this period, especially after Confederation in 1867, the Canadian government was responsible for recruiting immigrants and promoting Canada abroad. Immigration offices opened in Great Britain and Ireland and in Europe. In Canada itself, a policy for admitting and assisting immigrants was gradually established. Processing centres were set up in major Canadian cities. To attract new settlers, the government relied heavily on the railway, the opening up of the western provinces, and the assistance of the new transatlantic steamship lines.
Gradual consolidation (1881-1900)
Beginning in the 1880s, immigrants arriving in Québec City landed at the Louise Basin
In Québec City at that time, the number of British immigrants arriving in Canada again began to rise. This increase reflected the recruitment and propaganda work of the Canadian government in Great Britain after 1867. Moreover, main steamship lines bringing immigrants to Canada were British, and operated out of major ports in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
During this period, an average of approximately 26 800 people came ashore at Québec City every year, few more than in the preceding period. Apart from British immigrants, there were also many Scandinavians and Europeans; a certain number came from the Middle East. Poor immigrants increasingly gave way to prosperous farmers, attracted to Canada by the vast lands of Manitoba and the Northwest. By the end of the century, Canada was retaining a larger proportion of immigrants – nearly 70%.
Québec City was still very much the main port of entry to Canada. Around 1885, along with the railway, huge immigrant landing facilities were erected in the port, providing the disembarking immigrants with a full range of modern and efficient services. Gradually, however, ports like St. John and Halifax began competing with Québec City. With the help of the railway, they were also able to begin handling immigrant traffic.
Origin and context of the project
Quarantine and public health
1847, year of tragedy
Canadian immigration in Québec City during the years of the Grosse Île quarantine station