1902 Encyclopedia > Canada > Canada - Extent. Population. Population. Indians. Nationalities.

(Part 2)

Extent – The Dominion of Canada extends from 45o N. lat. northward to the Hudson Bay, and reaches from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In superficial extent it is nearly equal to the whole of Europe, and comprises an area of about 3,500,000 square miles. The larger moiety of this, including the territory formerly held by the Hudson’s Bay Company, is the property of the Dominion Government. Of this about 120,000 square miles consists of prairie lands with occasional scattered groves and belts of trees along the rivers, admirably adapted for agriculture. A larger tract, consisting chiefly of timbered land, but interspersed with prairies, and well fitted for settlement and farming operations may be estimated to cover little short of 500,000 square miles. Beyond those two available regions of land, adapted, by soil and climate, for the growth of wheat and other grains, and the rearing of stock, there is a further belt of land, which, though lying in a colder zone, is timbered, clothed with good natural grasses, and as fit for the growth of barley and oats as are many of the less genial regions of Northern Europe which support a considerable agricultural population. This northern belt of timbered land is estimated at little less than 930,000 square miles. All this, as well as much more still uncleared within the various provinces, has to be settled and brought under cultivation; and out of the great prairie and forest lands of the north-west have yet to be fashioned the future provinces of the Dominion of Canada.

Population. – The population of the whole Dominion in 1871, exclusive of Indians beyond the limits of the provinces, was 3,485,761, but to this has since been added the provinces of British Columbia Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island; thereby increasing the population to nearly 4,000,000. To this a large addition has since been made, both by natural increase and by immigration. The entire population of Canada in 1875 was estimated to amount to 4,000,000, exclusive of Indians, estimated at 85,000.

Indians. – In the older provinces of Canada the Indians have long since been gathered together into settlements, under the care of superintendent and other officers of the Indian department, and in some cases with industrial schools and other organizations for accelerating their progress to an equality in all respects with the white settlers. Missions under the care of different Christian churches have also undertaken the work of religious training, and the supervision of their schools. Of the bands of Indians thus settled on their own reserves, accurate statistics are furnished in the annual reports of the Indian Department. but only a vague estimate can be formed of the actual numbers even of the Crees, Blackfeet, Sionux, and other wild tribes which wander in the vicinity of the Red River settlements, or are brought into trading relations with the factors of the Hudson’s Ray Company. The following estimate of the Indian tribes throughout the Dominion of Canada is based on the most recent information; and probably forms a fair approximation to their actual numbers: -

Nova Scotia……………………. 1,766
New Brunswick……………….. 1,386
Prince Edward Island…………. 323
Manitoba and N.W. Territories..23,800
British Columbia………………28,500
Rupert’s Land………………… 4,500

Nationalities. – The nationalities of the population of Canada are in some respects peculiar. The first settlement made by Europeans, as has been already noted, was by the French navigator Jacques Quartier, or as he is now universally styled, Cartier, in 1835. He explored dthe coats of Newfoundland, previously discovered by Cabot, and those of Nova Scotia and part of the Gulf of St Lawrence, and took possession of them in the name of Francis I. For two centuries and a quarter thereafter Acadie and Canada were provinces of France; and when, in 1759, they passed to English rule, a French population of 65,000 souls changed their allegiance. Everything was then done, consistent with British honor, to make the change as easy as possible. They were secured in the undisturbed possession of their lands, and in the free exercise of their religion. All ecclesiastical property was respected, and the rights of the church so effectually guarded, that the only remnant of a state church in the Dominion is the Roman Catholic church in the province of Quebec, with its great wealth, its control of education, and its right to levy tithes and other church dues from its adherents. The French laws in like manner remained intact; except in so far as the new subjects of England welcomed the substitution of its criminal law, and trial by jury, for the arbitrary rule of intendants and other representatives of an absolute monarchy. By such means the language and customs of the French population of Canada have been perpetuated, and continue to exercise a marked influence on the character of the country as a whole; though the results of confederation are already tending to diminish this, and to limit the French element to the old province of Quebec. The Canadian population of French descent now numbers 1,082,940; and in the fresh stimulus given in recent years to immigration, strong inducements have been held out to the expatriated inhabitants of the former French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, to seek a home among the French Canadians of Quebec.

The other nationalities of the Dominion include in the returns of the last census 64,447 natives of the United States in the four provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, who may be assumed to comprise immigrant of English, Scottish, and Irish descent, with an undetermined foreign element. Besides those the Irish population of Canada now amounts to about 850,000, the English to upwards of 700,000, the Scotch to 550,000, the Germans and Dutch to upwards of 230,000 the mixed race of African descent to nearly 22,000; the Welsh to 7800; Swiss 2962; Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, and Icelanders, 7000; Italians upwards of 1000; and Spaniards 900. The abrupt emigration of the Icelanders from their remote Arctic home, consequent on recent volcanic disturbances, along with other causes, has led a number of them to seek a home in Canada. The Mennonites, a Russian sect holding opinions closely allied to the Quakers in reference to bearing arms, have left their homes in large bands, and many of them are settling in Manitoba, and other parts of Canada. Added to all those, have to be taken into account the miscellaneous elements of the new population of British Columbia – Greek, Mexicans, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Japanese; in addition to which the native Indian population constitutes an important element. The mixture of Indian and White blood has been considerable in the older provinces, and cannot fail to affect largely the population of Manitoba and the North West. Nevertheless in Canada, as in the United States, British race and British institutions alike predominate, and give a tone and character to the people, the influence of which increases after a few generations, as the foreign element is gradually absorbed into the prevailing stock.

The peculiar geographical position of Canada, in immediate proximity to the United States, places it in very different circumstances from Australia, New Zealand, and other British colonies, in reference to immigration. With thousands annually sailing to New York and other United States ports, yet destined for Canada, and many more selecting the route by Liverpool and Quebec to the Western States, it is only by the definite returns of the decennial census that the actual results of immigration can be determined. The following tabular statements compiled from the official reports of the Minister of Agriculture for the Dominion, to whose department the charge of immigration is assigned, and from the returns of emigrant agents and other sources, will suffice to convey some accurate idea of the rapid increase of the population from this source. The first table shows, in column I., the total number of emigrants from Europe who landed in the St. Lawrence during a period of eight consecutive years, from 1866 to 1873. column II. shows the number of immigrants entering Canada at al points, in so far as they came under the cognizance of immigrant agents, or other Government officials, who were reported to have settled in the Dominion. Column III. shows the numbers who gave a preference to the route by the St Lawrence, and, arriving at Canadian ports, proceeded from thence direct to the United States. The increase in the number of immigrant settlers in Canada within the above period, it will be seen has been five-fold. In reference to the third column there is a compensating element in the fact that, not only many of the better class of emigrants who seek a home in Canada choose the route by New York, and so enter the provinces overland, but the Minister of Agriculture draws special attention to a feature in the returns, showing a direct emigration from the United States to Canada. This is liable to be affected largely by the conditions of trade and industrial progress in either country. In 1873 the number of immigrants from the United States to Canada amounted to 8971 persons.


The character of the above Canadian immigration as an addition to the industrial population of the Dominion may be partially tested by the following classification of the occupations or trades of the heads of families and other adult males who landed at Quebec during the last-named four years


In the year 1872 the total number of emigrants who sailed from British ports, both to the Colonies and to foreign states, amounted to 295,213; but 26 per cent of the whole were foreigners, availing themselves of the route through Great Britain to their final destinations.

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