Expanding immigration brought to an abrupt halt (1901-1920)
In Canada, the economic boom during the early years of the 20th century resulted in an unprecedented influx of immigrants. Although the number of arrivals fell sharply during World War I, immigration during the first two decades was three times higher than in 1880- 1900. This phenomenon was visible at the port of Québec, which received an average of 92 000 immigrants annually prior to 1915.
Great Britain continued to supply over 60% of these people, thanks to constant and effective recruitment. Scandinavians and Western Europeans still accounted for significant numbers of immigrants, but Eastern
Europeans started arriving in increasing numbers, accounting for 16.3% of arrivals. Canada also became the country of adoption for people from an increasing range of ethnic groups. Immigrants arrived from the world over, including the Middle East, Australia, South Africa, the Far East, the Caribbean and North Africa.
During this period, Canada opened additional ports of entry, including some on the Pacific coast. Although Québec City remained the main entry point for immigrants, the port now handled only 48% of the country’s new arrivals.
Major upheavals (1921-1940)
With the end of World War I and the beginning of the 1920s, immigrant traffic to Canada resumed. However, the influx had weakened, and, from the 1930s, it fell off sharply throughout the Depression years. From 1921 to 1932, approximately 123 000 immigrants arrived in Canada every year. Between 1932 and 1941, however, the number dropped to 15 000!
For Québec City, the impact was twofold: not only did the number of new settlers decline spectacularly but the percentage of immigrants arriving via Québec City dropped off markedly. Between 1921 and 1932 the port of Québec continued to handle 45% of immigrants to Canada, however from 1932 to 1941, this share fell to 26%. Pierrette Boulet Collection
Pierrette Boulet Collection
Across Canada, the period between 1921 and 1941 saw a significant decline in the number of British immigrants. For the first time, Great Britain no longer supplied the majority of new arrivals (47%). Only 1% of immigrants originated in Asia; their numbers would increase after World War II. Most new arrivals hailed from Western, Central and Eastern Europe.
Despite the appeal of its powerful southern neighbour, periods of paralyzing economic depression, world wars, and many years of slow industrial development, Canada nevertheless succeeded in remaining a popular destination for immigrants from the early 19th century to the eve of World War II. During this century and a half of history, through good times and bad, Québec City welcomed nearly 4.5 million souls, many of whom would put down roots in Canada and play an active role in building up their new country.
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