LABRST 1A03 Lecture Notes - Clifford Sifton, In Essence, Navvy

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23 Apr 2013
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M a r c h 1 2 , 2 0 1 3
Labour Studies 1A03 Essay Assignment
Jacqueline Chan
“Immigrant workers played a key role in the boom of 1896 to 1914, but they received few of the benefits.”
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Canada is described as a mosaic built by different cultures to form a strong nation
instead of a melting pot like the United States. Nowadays, Immigrants from all over the world
come to Canada to have a better life through better education and more stable job
opportunities. As a whole, Canada‟s economy relies heavily on the immigrants as they provide
the labour and money that are required to run a competitive global economy. The
contributions made by the immigrants can be tracked back to when the English and French
settlers colonized Canada.
Compare to other countries that have been colonized, for example India, Canada is
considered one of the most successful countries after gaining its independent from the
mother country. In order to be a strong and independent country, it is crucial to develop a
powerful local economy that can compete globally. The first step to industrialization is
agriculture and fortunately, Canada has the resources and laborers to go through the process
of commercial agriculture and put the country‟s economy on the right track (Dick & Taylor,
n.d.). However, despite the fat that immigrants are vital in the Canadian economy, their
efforts and contributions have not been rewarded or appreciated the way they are now
(Avery, 1995).
Immigration workers played a key role in the economic boom of 1896 to 1914, but they
received few of the benefits from the prosperity (Avery, 1995). By 1914, around 3 million
immigrants had entered Canada since 1896 (Avery, 1995). The exponential increase in the
population definitely pushed the nation‟s economy as the settlers provided both skilled and
unskilled labour (Avery, 1995). As the young nation was in the process of gaining its
independent from Britain, most of the infant industries were extremely labour intensive.
Business sectors had a high demand of workers such as railroads construction, commercial
agriculture, mining, lumbering, farming laborers, and domestic workers (Avery, 1995).
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Among all of the industries, commercial agriculture was one of the largest sectors that
needed most of the labor force (Avery, 1995). Both unskilled and skilled laborers were in high
demand to become farmers or farm laborers (Avery, 1995). Even though technology was
available, they still required heavy labour force to put them in use (Avery, 1995). The sum of
money that was spent on hiring the required amount of workers was a heavy burden on the
employers. In order to save money, immigrants were often hired for such labor-intensive jobs
because they accepted lower wages. Also, employers and immigration officials often assumed
that immigrants were the source of cheap labor (Avery, 1995). Therefore, one of the goals
from the Canadian immigration policy was to recruit skilled agricultural laborers (Avery,
1995).
Farm workers were extremely crucial because they were needed in the seeding and
harvesting seasons (Avery, 1995). In fact by 1907, the Immigration Branch took matter into its
own hand and began to participate in the recruitment of British agriculture workers (Avery,
1995). Around 100 government officials were appointed to correspond with the British booking
agencies (Avery, 1995). Each official was reward with a $200 bonus for placing every farm
laborer (Avery, 1995). Even steamship agents were given payments of bonuses when
colonization agents bring agricultural immigrant to Canada (Avery, 1995). In essence, the
government‟s goal was to attract the ideal „British agriculturalists‟ to immigrate to Canada.
The Minister of the Interior from 1896 to 1905, Clifford Sifton, recognized the
immigrants‟ contribution to Canada (The University of Canada, 1997). Therefore, he loosened
the immigration policies and strongly promoted the West (The University of Canada, 1997).
This government strategy to advertise the West was known as “The Last Best West” (The
University of Canada, 1997). Vigorous campaigning took place all over United States, Britain,
and even Central and Eastern Europe (The University of Canada, 1997). Though British
agriculturalists were the flavored immigrants, the high demand of workers led the
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