Canada has historically welcomed American war resisters without much
fuss. On the surface, Americans and Canadians are very similar and
speak the same language, so integration has not been as difficult
for them as it has been for other immigrant groups who face much more
daunting cultural and language barriers.
Many of the men who came around the time of the Civil War were experienced
farm hands, and since labour was in short supply in many parts of
Canada, they were initially welcomed. They were often glad of the
refuge and would work for lower than average pay. By 1864 these 'skedaddlers',
as they were called, were numerous enough (some estimates were as
high as 15,000) that people were complaining that Canadians were having
trouble competing for jobs.
Many of the men who came to Canada during the Vietnam War as draft
dodgers were making successful Canadian lives for themselves. When
amnesty was declared, many chose to stay. But there were costs. As
one American draft dodger wrote in his book 'Deserter': "I have
given up my country, my citizenship, my profession, my family, my
belief in myself, my true love, everything but my life. And for this
I will still be called a coward."
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