Montreal Gazette, 11 August 1869, page 3

Emigration to Canada

How Others See Us

Experience of a recent influential visitor, what he saw in, and what he says of, Canada

A special meeting of the British and Colonial Emigration Fund was held at the Mansion-house, London on the 27th ult, the Lord Mayor presiding.  There were present, among others, Sir George Grey, late Governor of New Zealand, Mr Dixon, Canada emigration agent, Mr White, special emigration commissioner from Ontario, the Rev JF Kitto.

Mr EH Currie, a member of the committee, and long identified with the Poplar district as a large employer of labour, read an interesting account of a visit he had recently made to the Dominion of Canada, with the view of ascertaining with some exactitude the prospects of persons emigrating thither from the east of London. For that purpose he left Liverpool on the 23d of May last, and returned on the 16th of July.  He made Toronto his headquarters, and saw about 100 families who had emigrated from the east of London in a different district of Ontario. He also held meetings and addressed letters to the local papers on the object of his visit.  He travelled over many miles of country, and visited most of the principal towns, spent three days in the heart of the free grant district above Lake Muskoka, made the best use of this time in consulting farmers and others, losing no opportunity of ascertaining facts, and finally spent several days at Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec, and worked out the whole system of passing emigrants to their new homes, both at Quebec and New York.  He acknowledged the debt of gratitude he was under to many friends at Toronto and elsewhere, especially to the Government emigration officers, who placed every facility in his way.  The result he had arrived at was a conviction on his part that nearly all the emigrants aided by the charitable societies were not merely employed, by far the greater portion of them at farm work, but were perfectly happy and contented. Some naturally succeeded better than others, some few had been unfortunate, some were unthrifty and would not succeed anywhere, but they were exceptions.  Every able, industrious and sober man would get employment earn a livelihood, and in a few years make a provision for his family, but he must be prepared for some hardships at first.  He must take moderated wages until he become acquainted with the wages of the country.

Mr Currie thinks there is no country which affords so many instances of success in Canada. In nine cases out of ten failure is the fault of the emigrant himself. Emigrants whether with some money or not, must go determined to work for themselves.  All that is required is industry and sobriety.  An emigrant, unless going to friends, should pass on to Toronto at once, and put himself entirely in the emigration agent’s hands, and if offered employment at a fair rate, close with it for a year.  He urges every emigrant to get out of town as quickly as possible, to take work in country districts, food, rent and fuel being all much dearer in the towns. A mechanic he says, should take the first job offered to him, even at low wages, and he will in a short time get a better offer at his own trade, if he is worth it. Mr Currie dissuades an emigrant from taking a free grant of land.  He tells him to obtain employment on a farm till he has bought his experience of the country, and if he has a little money to put it in a savings bank for a year. With the exception of the small amount required for clothing, he can save all his wages and it is useless to settle in the bush unless he has £40 or £50 to carry him through the first year and to purchase tools. The farmers, he says, live well, the quantity of mess consumed is more a matter of taste than economy; vegetables and fruit are abundant and any quantity of milk is to be obtained. He met a farmer at Barrie on Lake Simcoe who had two Portsmouth men in his employ. They went out in the Crocodile. The farmer told him that at first, as might be expected, they were of little use to him.  They were greenhorns, as he expressed himself, but they meant to succeed and in a few weeks they got on so well that he had agreed with them for a year, at 22l 10s each, a house and their board being found them, the use of a cow for the children, and they had each half an acre of land, which he had ploughed for them.  They were quite contented and happy, and their employer said he had never had such men on his farm before. Mr Currie drove out, at the same place, to a charming little farm, to see a man from Wapping, who was working on the farm.  He had a comfortable house, and received a little better wages than the two from Portsmouth. He met another man who had gone out from Scotland a few years ago, worked for a time on the quay for his brother, and is now a substantial farmer.  Mr Currie adds that he could take dozens of similar instances from his notebook of people there whose only anxiety was that friends and relations should join them.  There is plenty of room, he says, for mechanics who know every part of their trade, and he has met with many who were quite contented, such as house-carpenters, bricklayers, stone-masons, blacksmiths, and coopers, but these men took the first offer, and are now thriving at their own trades. Canada, he adds, will find a home for any person, accustomed to manual labour, who does not see his way clearly to provide for himself and a family in the old country, and is industrious and sober.  This year 5 720 persons have passed through the hands of Mr Donaldson, the Government emigration officer at Toronto, up to June 17, besides large numbers who had been sent direct to Hamilton and elsewhere. On the 9th of June according to replies to a circular sent out in the spring by the Minister of Agriculture to the various townships in Ontario, asking for a return of persons required those townships still wanted 7 229 labourers, 420 mechanics, and 3423 domestic servants.  Some of the townships did not reply to the circular, and those who did so probably asked for a much smaller number than they could really absorb.

This was the substance of Mr Currie’s report read to the meeting yesterday, and at its conclusion a cordial vote of thanks was accorded to him.

Mr Dixon, emigration agent of the Canadian government took occasion to say that it was now late in the season for farm labourers to emigrate, but that tailors, shoemakers, harnessmakers, blacksmiths, and cabinet makers were in request.

Mr White, emigration commissioner from Ontario, corroborated Mr Dixon in that respect, and said as the winter business was about to commence, that class of artisans, and especially cabinet makers, shoemakers and tailors might be absorbed to a very considerable extent.

Before the meeting separated, a cordial vote of thanks was passed to the Marquis of Westminster for a second munificent donation of £1000 to the fund.  By the first donation of £1000 the committee had been able to despatch 300 emigrants, and by the second 200 more would be sent out in September.

On the motion of Sir George Grey, a resolution was unanimously adopted, expressive of the gratitude of the meeting to the agents of the Canadian government for the facilities they had afforded Mr Currie in attaining the objects of his mission.

The meeting then separated.

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