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Fraser's Scottish Annual
The British Races in Canada


By Archibald Blue, Toronto

A COMPLETE enumeration of the several Provinces which now compose the Dominion of Canada has been taken decennially for the years 1831, 1871, 1881 and 1891. For each one of these years the population has been classified by nativities, and for the years 1871 and 1881 by origins also. At the taking of the census of 1891 it was thought that the division into native and non-native was more suitable to-our status than a division according to racial descent, and no doubt properly so in view of the fact that marriages between persons of different origins are steadily growing more frequent. Hereafter, therefore, it will not be possible to say what proportion of the population is Scotch, or English, or Irish in origin. We shall know only what proportion is French; or perhaps it is better to say we shall know as long as the great fact is recognized that we are a bilingual people. But the data we have possess yet some value in determining the strength of the race elements in our population, and they are worth using. In 1871, out of a total population of 3,485,761, the Scotch race numbered 519,946, the Irish 846,414, and the English and Welsh 714,142. In 1881, when the whole population was 4,324,810, the Scotch were increased to 699,S63, the Irish to 957,403, and the English and Welsh to 891,248. For each of those years the Scotch constituted 16 per cent, of the Whole, and the English 20 per cent., while the Irish rose from 22 to 24 per cent. In Ontario, in 1881, the English and Welsh made up 28 per cent of the population, the Irish 32 per cent., and the Scotch 20 per cent., as compared with 75, 14 and 11 per cent. respectively in the British Islands in the same year.

The following table gives the distribution of the British races by Provinces for the year 1881, which is likely to remain our last census by origins or races:

1881 it was 470,092, or 11 per cent.; and in 1891 it was 476436, or 9 per cent. The number in 1871 was 68,331 less than in 1801, and the number in 1881 was 24,799 less than in 1871, and although a slight increase is shown in 1891 over 1881 the ratio of British-born to the whole population has fallen steadily from one decade to another. It will be noticed also that while the English and Welsh have been steadily increasing, the Scotch and Irish have been as steadily decreasing—the Irish being less in 1891 than in 1861 by 130,847, and the Scotch by 31,659, and the English and Welsh more by 81,700.

This is not a cheering view, but the situation should be clearly presented. For some cause Canada has not received a fair share of the surplus population of the United Kingdom during the last forty years, nor indeed during the last eighty years. If any one doubts this statement he has only to consult the last decennial census of the United States. According to that authority the United Kingdom gave 6,235,277 citizens to the Republic in the seventy years 1821-90. In the last decade alone (1881-90) it gave 1,462,839, composed of 657,488 from England and Wales, 149,839 from Scotland, and 655,482 from Ireland. Furthermore, the United States census shows that in 1890 the country had a foreign-born population of 9,249,547, one-third of whom were natives of the United Kingdom. There were 1,008,220 from England and Wales, 242,231 from Scotland, and 1,871,509 from Ireland, or seven times more than in Canada.

It will be said that in a free country like Great Britain and Ireland the people must be free to migrate where they please. That is right. But the Mother Country owes an obligation to herself and to her Colonies, and with proper measures taken at both ends it ought to be possible to direct the tide of emigration to the Colonies. The principle of laissez faire in this matter has perhaps been carried to excess. Modern experience proves that Governments are useful powers, and not mere instruments of repression. By the help of intelligent methods the wilderness may be transformed into a state ; and had the eight or tell of Britons who have found homes in the United States during the present century been directed instead to Canada, Australasia and South Africa, and had the British capital sent to the United States been invested in opening up the great natural resources of those Colonies, the boon to the Empire could not be calculated.

The lesson of South African history ought never to be forgotten by British statesmen. Eighty years ago, when the scheme of the Albany settlement in Cape Colony was conceived, 90,000 men in England, Scotland and Ireland applied for leave to go out and only 4,000 of them were accepted by the Government. At first they occupied all of 3,000 square miles, but their descendants have long since spread beyond this limit, and their presence in Cape Colony is a powerful factor in maintaining authority there while the Boers of the two Republics are fighting the best soldiers of the Empire. Had the whole number who offered in 1820 been sent out, there would be no South Africa question to vex the British Government now, for natives and Dutch and Boers alike would long ago have submitted to the control which men of the British races never fail to establish.

It needs no voice of a seer to tell us that between the Colonies and the Mother Country the old relationship with its laissez faire politics is passing away, and that a new era of Imperialism is dawning, in broader statesmanship will direct the affairs of Government, and under which troublesome questions of Home and Colonial politics may find peaceful and permanent solution. No citizen of the Empire will deny that loyalty and duty call for a policy under which Britons shall stay Britons, to occupy all lands and strengthen all outposts of the Empire. In Canada alone there is easy room for another fifty millions of people.

"Pioneers of Zorra:" The story of the Scotch settlers of Zorra has been told in this book by the Rev. W. A. Mackay, D.D., with his wonted raciness of style and descriptive power. The life of these people was seasoned by the memories of forefathers who never shirked duty, and who believed in God. They were a sturdy race, those Sutherlandshire Highlanders, and faced the toil and hardships of pioneering with a stout heart. Their lives were lightened by friendly co-operation, by time sweetening of religion, and by gleams of fortune, even from the very start; and their words and ways are made to live again on Dr. Mackay's pages, which are well worth reading.


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