Date of Award

2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Advisor

Scott W. See

Second Committee Member

William Baker

Third Committee Member

Howard Cody

Abstract

This dissertation examines the literature produced by the Immigration Branch of the Canadian Department of the Interior from 1896 until the First World War. Immigration agents in the United States and Great Britain distributed these brochures, pamphlets and atlases to encourage farmers to settle in the Canadian West and the themes contained within these texts illustrate the ideological positions of Canada's immigration officials. In particular, they demonstrate that the ideal society envisioned by these bureaucrats consisted of young farm families. In the early years of Wilfiid Laurier's administration immigration became a top priority. This reflected both the upward trend in the world economy as well as a desire on the part of many Canadians to fill the Prairies with prosperous white families. As the government wanted only to recruit farm families they tailored their immigration propaganda to include themes which they hoped would appeal to young farmers and their wives in the United -States and Great Britain. This dissertation is based on a close analysis of these documents. Many of the topics included in Canada's immigration propaganda suggested that the Prairie West had tremendous agricultural potential. The authors wrote that western Canada could produce record amounts of wheat and that this grain was of such high quality that a bushel could expect to sell for record prices. In addition to describing the farms of the West, Canadian immigration officials attempted to inform their readers about the social conditions of Prairie life. In particular, they wrote that western Canada had churches, good schools, social clubs, and all of the other aspects of rural social life that immigrants knew from their homes in Great Britain and the United States. This dissertation ends with the conclusion of the First World War, as it was at this point that Canadian government changed the way that it approached immigration. The conclusions drawn in this work illustrate that Canada did not have a haphazard approach to immigration, but rather an organized, systematic view as to which settlers were best suited to the West. This is clear in the government's immigration literature, which is written to specifically appeal to young, prosperous farm families.

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