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Monday, July 4, 2016

Building the Canadian Mosaic: A Survey of Historical Developments, 1867-1920

 By Ihor Cap, Ph.D.
Sir Wilfred Laurier
Prime Minister of Canada
1896 - 1911
The significance of Laurier's statement quoted above was not merely  an acknowledgement of the inherent linguistic, cultural, and racial plurality of Canada.  Nor was it simply a challenge to his contemporaries to recognize the pioneering contributions to nation-building of all three elements or forces of Canadian society.  The main significance of the leader's visionary statement was that it provides his contemporaries with the 'social architecture' for catapulting the three elements of Canadian society into a more equitable partnership of participants and builders, rather than survivors and victims, of the future.

In the confluence of two earlier forces (the British and French settlers) "...that have shaped our Canadian character must surely be seen the force of two additional tributaries adding to the majestic flow of our culture and our civilization" noted the former Governor-General designate, Edward Schreyer, in his inaugural speech delivered in 1979 (Hlynka, 1981, p.43). One, of course, was  the Aboriginal (Native) peoples, Canada's First Nations.  The other was the multiplicity of settlers with origins other than British, French or Native.  Census data show (see Table 1 in Mallea, 1990, p.4) that in 1871, just four years after Confederation,  Canada's total population (comprises only Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario) numbered about 3 million, 486 thousand people.  Additional data show that 60.5 percent of this population were of British origin, compared to 31.1 percent of French, 0.7 percent of Native and 7.7 percent of Canadians that were none of these.  The general picture of Canada changed considerably in the new century.  By 1911, the total population of Canada (excludes Newfoundland) numbered about 7 million, 207 thousand people.  Those of British origin comprised 55.5 percent of the total population, compared to 28.6 percent of French, 1.5 percent of Native and 14.4 percent  of Canadians that were none of these.  The latter group's contribution to nation building coincided most clearly with the settlement of the Prairie region (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) between Ontario and British Columbia, and the economic and  political  successes of Canada in the new century (Bryce, 1928, p.44; Schroeder, 1990, pp.38-58; Yuzyk, 1983, p.303).

With  Alberta  and  Saskatchewan (formerly The North-West Territories) obtaining provincial status in 1905 (The National Atlas of Canada, 1974, p.86), Canada attained its ultimate extent in territorial aim and virtually its final framework of political organization (Lewis, 1913, p.200; Webster's New Reference Library, 1988, p.1087). One year later, when ". . the exports of wheat exceeded those of cheese in value" (Ruddick, 1913b, p.676), the country embraced an economic  metamorphosis from the historically cheese-paring driven economies of 'Old World Canada' into the wheat, wheat flour, flax-seed and barley, and oats-producing economies of the new central 'West'.  Creighton (1970, p.105), Professor and Historian, evaluated the national significance and impact attributed to the framers of 'the last best west' land policy in these words:
It had always been assumed, as an article of faith, that immigration and western settlement would ultimately make the nation; and now, to the immense pride and satisfaction of everybody, this was happening .... The nation's production of wheat, which had been only 55,572,000 bushels in 1901, rose to 231,237,000 in 1912.  Western Canada was well on its way to becoming one of the greatest granaries in the world .... But western settlement had been only one of the national policies and its successful realization was only a part, though a most important part, of Canada's spectacular success.
To be sure, the impulse of immigration and settlement of the Prairie region was a conditional element in meeting the additional exigencies of Canadian manufacturing and railroad building (Creighton, 1970, p.25; Gordon, 1910. p.106). Of no less importance, then, in shaping state behaviour and the political organization of Canada (1905) were the Native peoples.  Although Native labour power was not momentous into the vicinity of the original union of the four older provinces of Canada (1867), “...the fact that Native people still controlled or contested control of large areas of putatively Dominion territory (on the prairies until the 1880s and in the north until much later) shaped the national lands policy (not to mention policy toward Native people) well into the twentieth century" (Abele and Stasiulis, 1989, p.240).
More important than the gross earnings of the Canadian Pacific Railway which according to Skelton (1913c, p.199) grew to 104 million by 1912 (30 million in 1901), more important than the total import and export values which had nearly quadrupled by 1912 after reaching an "axial point" (Bennis and Nanus, 1985, p.13) of 125 million in 1895 (Skelton, 1913 c, p.239), and even more important than the perceived need for bolstering the Canadian navy and exercising military operations were the omnipresent "problems" of continued immigration and the kind of immigrant who was to ". . become part and parcel of the Canadian people" (Scott, 1913b, p.589) and by greater cleavage between majority and minority.
If  the election of, then, municipal reeves and councillors of Ukrainian origin (Public Archives Canada, 1979, p.7) and the legal or customary educational-linguistic rights gained by ethnocultural minorities in 1872, 1873 (Skelton, 1917, p.454), 1897 (Skwarok, 1959, p.57), and 1901 (Skelton, 1917, p.456) can be interpreted as recognition of the general wealth accompanying minority labour and/or their integration into Laurier's more elastic image of Canadian identity then Ukrainians, like other minorities, seem  to relieve themselves of illusion as their legal or customary rights receded with every economic and political consolidation.

Significant in the development of the Naturalization Act was the newly prescribed educational qualification (Skelton, 1917, p.442) requiring "an adequate knowledge of either the English or French languages" (Statutes of Canada. 1914, c.44, s.2) of all candidates seeking naturalization.  This qualification was closely tied in with the disappearance of the bilingual system of teaching (e.g. German-English, Ukrainian­-English, Polish-English) in the Prairie region in 1916 (Skwarok, 1959, p.90). As immigration and bilingual instruction at this turn of the century increased (e.g. some 400 predominantly or all-Ukrainian schools alone by 1915) so did public pressure against the "Bi-lingual Schools" campaigns of Ukrainian teachers (Skwarok, 1956, p.90, 106).  In 1916, the newly elected government of Manitoba closed the bilingual schools and the scarcely translated Ukrainian­-English reading books for elementary school use, ". . which were still in boxes yet unopened - Dr. Thornton, Minister of Education orders them burned" (Gospodyn, 1990, p.11).  Morton (1968, p.358)  stated that "...public opinion came to hold  strongly that Canadian nationality was threatened in Manitoba by the linguistic chaos in the schools." It seems ironic, in the light of the preceding statement, that the Naturalization Act of 1914 not only prescribed an additional two years' to meet the five-year residency requirement in Canada but granted, British, not Canadian, citizenship (Yuzyk, 1983, p.305).
The required educational-linguistic qualification and type of citizenship granted in the Act (1914) reflected  the on­going determination and power of the majority group to assimilate newcomers from countries with languages, skin pigmentation, customs or ideals unlike their own (Lewis, 1913, p.187,202; Scott, 1913b, p.531,569,578,589). Scots and Presbyterians had the largest stake in the prevailing socioeconomic order (Martynowych, 1983, pp.34-35). Fearing "another Quebec" may yet evolve in parts of western Canada, Presbyterian spokespersons advocated rapid Anglicization and assimilation of the South-East Europeans (especially Slavs) whose massive influx " once imperilled western Canada's status as a 'godly bastion of the British Empire' and challenged the Presbyterians to assume the burden of ‘uplifting' the 'benighted foreigners"' (Martynowych, 1983, p.36; Owen, 1985).  Filling up the west with settlers from old Canada and "Returned Canadians" from the United States (Lewis, 1913a, p.202; Scott, 1913b, p.558,563), a safeguard favoured by French nationalists of Quebec (Lewis, 1913, p.187), ensured that the region remained British in character and visibly white.
The "utilitarian mentality" (Li, 1988, p.12,37,39) of industrialists and politicians of the day eroded support for non-white arrivals and, in the process, exacerbated the behaviour of whites toward them (Lampkin, 1985, p.663; Bibby, 1990, pp.25-27). Chinese labour, for example, was considered useful even necessary to CPR railway building.  However, upon its completion in 1885, an Act to restrict and regulate Chinese immigration into Canada (Statutes of Canada, 1885, c. 71)rendered them racially undesirable. With few exceptions, an entry tax of $50 on every person of Chinese origin was set (Statutes of Canada, 1885, c.71, s.4), and raised to $500 in 1903 (Lampkin, 1985, p.664). In 1906, a stipulation limiting the number of Chinese immigrants in any vessel to "one such immigrant for every fifty tons of its tonnage" (Statutes of Canada, 1906, c.95, s.9) remained with effect from 1885.  The Vancouver riot of 1907 was illustrative of the renewed hostile public behaviour toward their perceived threat to occupational competition (namely cheap Asiatic labour) and of British Columbia's willingness to extend similar idiosyncrasies of separation (e.g. segregating Chinese students from white students) and assimilation to the province's classrooms (Li, 1988, pp.32-33). The intensification of such idiosyncrasies prompted this and other provincial governments to legislate the exclusion of Asiatics from enfranchisement and certain professions (i.e. law and pharmacy), to enact de facto discriminatory restrictions affecting the hours of operation of Asiatic businesses and laws to prevent the employment of female labour (i.e. white or Indian) in their businesses (Li, 1988, pp.28-29).

Similar to the experience of other non-white western arrivals, the entry of black Americans was stymied by those invoking Section 38 of the 1910 Act respecting Immigration which prohibited the landing " . . . of immigrants belonging to any race deemed unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada"(Statutes of Canada, 1910, c.27, s.38). This notwithstanding, the black experience was particularly harsh for Canadian-born in eastern Canada - notably, Nova Scotia - where most blacks settled.  Especially "...hard were the discriminatory practices in education by which School Acts from 1811 to as late as 1954 ensured that some black children in many communities received no schooling at all and others only inferior schooling in separate black schools", reported Lampkin (1985, p.655). Accordingly, the prevailing ideology of segregation and assimilation facilitated the more "useful and meaningful" (Sharzer, 1985, p.551) "acculturation and civilization" (Powless, 1985, p.604) policy pursued by government for the re-education and re-socialization of Aboriginal (Native) peoples in Canada.  The goal of such a policy operated on the assumption that Natives must forfeit their past (Sharzer, 1985, p.552). In considerable measure, the educational objectives of living and earning a living in society channelled Natives and immigrants of both sexes into options that were not qualitatively different from the occupations of their parents (Martynowych, 1983, pp.46-47; Powless, 1985, pp.603-604; Li, 1988, Table 3.2).

According to Buckland        (1985, p.148), Ottawa-based researcher and social policy analyst,  “. . . these policies coincided    with   ideologies    of racial  superiority     and inferiority and beliefs about the 'suitability' of certain ethnic groups for certain types of work.  Thus, the Chinese were brought in to build the railroads, the Ukrainians to pioneer and cultivate the Prairies, and so on." The period between 1914-1920 was as much indicative of a reluctancy to forfeit such beliefs as it was of a 'social architecture' going completely amiss.  During World War I, the government deemed it expedient, necessary and even "...desirable considering the lack of opportunity for employment" (Order in Council of the 28th of October, 1914) to make orders, proclamations and regulations to permit exit, arrest, detain, register or monitor the control of over 80,000  "alien enemies"  (most  of whom were Ukrainian), and their press in Canada (Proclamation of  15th  August, 1914;  Order  in  Council  of  the  20th  of  September, 1916; Luciuk, 1988, p.7; Order in Council of the 6th of November, 1914).  Another 5,000 to 6,000 allied  Russian occupied Ukrainians and enemy Austrian occupied Ukrainians, presumably sympathetic to Austria, were kept for several years in one of 26 internment camps across Canada - in spite of 10,000 voluntary enlistments in the Canadian war effort (Melnycky, 1983; Yuzyk, 1983, p.305; Luciuk, 1988).  In some cases, they were dismissed from employment; their language and press outlawed (Public Archives Canada, 1979, pp.5-7; Luciuk, 1988, pp.25-27).

Moreover, in 1917 the government incapacitated legally from voting federally all conscientious objectors to combatant military service (i.e. Mennonites and Doukhobors) and aliens naturalized after March 1902 if they were "born in an enemy country" or if they spoke "a language of an enemy  country" (The War-time Elections Act, 1917, c.39, s.154). A woman could be admitted to vote but only if she ". . qualified as to age, race and residence, as required in the case of a male person in such a province" or Territory and, as the case may be, was related to someone serving or having served in any of the naval or military forces of Great Britain or of Canada in the aforementioned war (The War-time Elections Act, 1917, c.39, s.33).
Author Information:
Ihor Cap, Ph.D.
Ihor Cap is a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Canada.
Related Articles in This Series
Building the Canadian Mosaic: A Survey of Historical Developments, 1920-1982
Building the Canadian Mosaic: A Survey of Historical Developments, 1982-2012