A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History


Martha Black came to Canada fleeing a suffocating life of social privilege, determined to claim her own independence. Over the years many have made the same journey, recognizing in Canada a place of opportunity and refuge. Refugee Americans include the Loyalists, fugitive Black slaves, Vietnam war resisters and draft dodgers, and religious groups such as Mennonites and Hutterites.(6)

*The Loyalists were American colonists on the side of the British during the American Revolution of 1775-1783, a war that won the Thirteen Colonies independence from Britain. An estimated 50,000 Loyalists fled to Canada, with the largest waves between 1783 and 1784. The majority were farmers of varied ethnic backgrounds. The maritime provinces became home for over 30,000 Loyalists. The two main settlements were in the Saint John River valley and, temporarily, Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Approximately 2,000 settled in Quebec and 7,500 moved along the St. Lawrence, the Bay of Quinte, the Niagara Peninsula and the Detroit River. The influx of Loyalists to this region made up the initial population base that led to the creation of the separate province of Upper Canada in 1791. Loyalists were quickly outnumbered by immigrants to come after, but they left an enduring influence. It is from the Loyalists that Canada inherited a certain conservatism, a preference for evolution rather than revolution in government matters, and an acceptance of a pluralistic and heterogeneous society.(6)

*The American Revolution Loyalists also brought 2,000 of their Black slaves. But 3,500 free Blacks who had won their freedom through allegiance to Britain, emigrated at the same time, settling mostly in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 1793, Upper Canada became the only colony to legislate a gradual abolition of slavery. This lured a large wave of American Blacks to come to Canada independently, using a network of secret routes known as the Underground Railway. At the time of the American Civil War, an estimated 30,000 fugitives had made their way to Canada. When American slavery ended in 1865, many African Canadians returned to the United States. The Black population in Canada didn't grow substantially until the 1960s when changes in immigration policy eliminated a bias against non-white immigrants.(7)

*Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites from the United States were also attracted to Canada. Often persecuted, they immigrated to Canada in search of freedom to exist in accordance with their pacifist beliefs and religious independence. The first Mennonite migration brought approximately 2,000 Swiss Mennonites from Pennsylvania to Upper Canada after the American Revolution. They bought land from private owners in the Niagara Peninsula and in York and Waterloo counties. From 1825 to the mid-1870s about 750 Amish Mennonites settled on crown land in Waterloo County. The biggest wave of Mennonites and Hutterites spilled onto the prairies between 1917 18. Avoiding American conscription during WWI, they were fleeing harassment and persecution resulting from their refusal to participate in any type of military service. Today there are an estimated 200,000 Mennonites, Amish and Hutterites living in communal colonies scattered across Canada.(8)

*War resisters and draft dodgers came to Canada in search of political refuge from U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1968 a New York Times article estimated that there were about 5,000 young Americans who had taken exile in Canada. It is generally believed, however, that approximately 30,000 draft-age Americans emigrated. Further estimates of this friendly invasion of Americans suggest the numbers range from 60,000 to 140,000.(9)

The Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

Only Farmers Need Apply, by Harold Martin Tropper
(Griffin House, Toronto, 1972).

They Can't Go Home, by Richard L. Killmer
(Pilgrim Press, Philadelphia, 1975).

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