A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History


In settling the colonies in British North America, the imperial authorities wanted to reproduce the English class system. Hoping to establish an aristocracy, ex-officers and members of the gentry were encouraged to settle with generous offers of land grants.(7)

By the 1860s, Toronto was abuzz with talk of Confederation and Englishman T. Phillips Thompson entered the debate about whether Canada should inherit all things British or become a republic. Thompson published his opinion in 1864. In a small booklet he called "The Future Government of Canada," Thompson served up some harsh words for the country that ruined his father:

"The time must come for Canada to cease her present connection with the British Empire. Canada can exist as an independent nation, not a monarchy or aristocracy. What could be more ridiculous than to bestow class privileges because of the achievements of some remote ancestor? Remove class distinction and bestow upon all the same advantages, regardless of race, creed, colour or condition. Give all a fair start in the race of life."(8)

The opposite occurred. Speculative companies such as the Canada Company acquired large tracts of land on the condition that they bring "suitable" settlers from England. Schemes were introduced by which English parishes unloaded the paupers and victims of crop failures and economic depression into Canada. They came with no means of survival and no skills necessary to endure the pioneer experience.(9)

Wherever the English settled, however, they quickly assimilated into the local community. This is largely because they did not have to learn a new language and encountered little prejudice, with the exception of the early English immigrants who populated Quebec. Outbursts of Anglophobia have been rare enough. The occasional protest against their presence such as the "Englishmen Need Not Apply" job notices of the early 1900s in the prairies, were a curious exception to the rule.(10)

Resentment of English immigrants was strongest in periods of economic difficulty. During the depression of the early 1900s, the government dealt as severely with English immigrants as with all immigrants. In 1908, 1,800 people were deported, 1,100 of whom were returned to the British Isles. The English were very widely and evenly spread across Canada and considered themselves the founding people of the country. As a result, they tended to be less self-defensively clannish than other immigrant populations. The occasional all-English agrarian settlements usually existed because their members shared the same class attitudes or the same opinions rather than because of an imposed segregation or unacceptance by the wider society.(11)

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

The Canadians, by George Woodcock
(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Don Mills, 1989).

A source Book of Canadian History, ed. J.H. Stewart Read
(Longmans Canada Limited, Toronto, 1964).

The Future Government of Canada, by T. Phillips Thompson, 1864

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