Immigrants to Canada

UWInfo | Young Immigrants | Genealogy | Local History | 19th Century Immigration

Continental European Immigrants

(The information here was extracted from several books on immigration. Since we are dealing with 19th century immigration, mention is given of ethnic origin rather than country. Mention is made of emigration to New York because many of these people entered Canada through that port.)

Permission to leave:

In many areas, it was not possible to just pack up and leave without permission of the authorities. In the late 1880s, the Italian government passed laws to make emigration easier. However, Nugent states that many emigrants did leave their homelands illegally.

"In Russia, before one may emigrate, many painful and costly formalities must be observed, a passport obtained through the governor and speeded on its way by sundry tips. It is in itself an expensive document without which no Russian subject may leave his community, much less his country. Many persons, therefore, forego the pleasure of securing official permission to leave the Czar's domain, and go, trusting to good luck or to a few rubles with which they may close the ever open eyes of the gendarmes of the Russian boundary. Austrian and Italian authorities also require passports for their subjects, but they are less costly and are granted to all who have satisfied the demands of the law." pp. 31-32 of Steiner

Booking Passage:

"These formalities over, the travellers move on to the market square,... There also, the agent of the steamship company receives with just as much feeling their hard earned money in exchange for the long coveted ‘Ticket,' which is to bear them to their land of hope." p. 32 of Steiner

"The Hamburg-America Line (HAPAG) developed a network of agents in various spots in Russia and East Europe from the early 1870s onward. Through them it served Russian Jews escaping from pogroms as early as 1871, and also German-Russian Mennonites and Bohemian farm families. The terrible cholera epidemic that killed thousands in Hamburg in August 1892 nearly shut down HAPAG for almost two years, but in the fall of 1894, together with the government of the city-state of Hamburg, it built another 25,000 square meters of port facilities, including baths, disinfection facilities, restaurants, sleeping quarters, churches and synagogues, and a music pavilion. Quarantines were enforced in accord with new rules, both German and American." p. 32 of Nugent

To the Port:

"Emigrants, who increasingly heard from relatives and former neighbors living in the New World of opportunities there, accordingly availed themselves ever more often of the expanding railway networks to reach the seaports. Those from the Austro-Hungarian Empire nearly always departed from hamburg or Bremen; those from Russia went through Hamburg; and Germans themselves left from either of those ports or from a Dutch or French port. Swedes and Danes appear frequently on the Hamburg passenger lists. People leaving Italy embarked from Naples, Genoa, Trieste, or Marseilles; those from the Balkans, Trieste usually; and many from the Ukraine and the Russian Pale after 1900 used Odessa. By 1900 most emigrants had several options as to ports of embarkation, passenger lines, prices and accommodations, and of course destinations." p. 33 of Nugent

For Italians, "Naples lead the embarkation ports, accommodating perhaps 75 percent of migrants to the United States, with Palermo a distant second and Genoa third. Some Italians, many of whom had already migrated to France, left from le Havre and Marseilles." p. 98 of Nugent

"...disappearing in the clouds of dust which mark their progress to the railroad station and on towards the dreaded sea.

From the small windows of fourth-class railway carriages they get glimpses of a new world, larger than they ever dreamed it to be, ...

Guided by an official of the steamship company whose wards they have become, they alight from the train; but not without having here and there to pay tribute to that organized brigandage, by which every port of embarkation is infested. The beer they drink and the food they buy, the necessary and unnecessary things which they are urged to purchase, are excessively dear, by virtue of the fact that a double profit is made for the benefit of the officials or the company which they represent.

The first lodging places before they are taken to the harbours, are dear, poor and often unsafe...

Yet, admirable as is the machinery which has been set up at Hamburg for the reception of the emigrant, these minor abuses have not all passed away...

The Italian government safeguards its emigrants admirably at Naples and Genoa; but other governments are seemingly unconcerned. When the official has done with the emigrants, they are taken to the emigrant depot of the company (which in many cases is inadequate for the large number of passengers), their papers are examined and they are separated according to sex and religion. At Hamburg they are required to take baths and their clothing is disinfected; after which they constantly emit the delicious odours of hot steam and carbolic acid. The sleeping arrangements at Hamburg are excellent. Usually twenty persons are in one ward, but private rooms which have beds for four people can be rented.

The food is abundant and good, plenty of bread and meat are to be had, and luxuries can be bought at reasonable prices At Hamburg music is provided and the emigrants may make merry at a dance until dawn of the day of sailing.

The medical examination is now very strict, yet seemingly not strict enough; for quite a large percentage of those who pass the German physicians are deported on account of physical unfitness." pp. 32-35 of Steiner

The Voyage:

"The day of embarkation finds an excited crowd with heavy packs and heavier hearts, climbing the gangplank. An uncivil crew directs the bewildered travellers to their quarters, which in the older ships are far too inadequate, and in the newer ships are, if anything, worse.

Clean they are; but there is neither breathing space below nor deck room above, and the 900 steerage passengers crowded into the hold of so elegant and roomy a steamer as the Kaiser Wilhelm II, of the North German Lloyd line, are positively packed like cattle, making a walk on deck when the weather is good, absolutely impossible, while to breathe clean air below in rough weather, when the hatches are down is an equal impossibility. The stenches become unbearable, and many of the emigrants have to be driven down; for they prefer the bitterness and danger of the storm to the pestilential air below. The division between the sexes is not carefully looked after, and the young women who are quartered among the married passengers have neither the privacy to which they are entitled nor are they much more protected than if they were living promiscuously.

The food, which is miserable, is dealt out of huge kettles into the dinner pails provided by the steamship company. When it is distributed, the stronger push and crowd, so that meals are anything but orderly procedures. On the whole, the steerage of the modern ship ought to be condemned as unfit for the transportation of human beings; and I do not hesitate to say that the German companies, and they provide best for their cabin passengers, are unjust if not dishonest towards the steerage. Take for example, the second cabin which costs about twice as much as the steerage and sometimes not twice so much; yet the second cabin passenger on the Kaiser Wilhelm II has six times as much deck room, much better located and well protected against inclement weather. Two to four sleep in one cabin, which is well and comfortably furnished; while in the steerage from 200 to 400 sleep in one compartment on bunks, one above the other, with little light and no comforts. In the second cabin the food is excellent, is partaken of in a luxuriantly appointed dining-room, is well cooked and well served; while in the steerage the unsavoury rations are not served, but doled out, with less courtesy than one would find in a charity soup kitchen.

The steerage ought to be and could be abolished by law...

On the steamer Noordam, sailing from Rotterdam three years ago, a Russian boy in the last stages of consumption was brought upon the sunny deck out of the pestilential air of the steerage. I admit that to the first cabin passengers it must have been a replusive sight--this emaciated, dirty, dying child; but to order a sailor to drive him down-stairs, was a cruel act, which I resented. Not until after repeated complaints was the child taken to the hospital and properly nursed. On many ships, even drinking water is grudgingly given, and on the steamer Staatendam, four years ago, we had literally to steal water for the steerage from the second cabin, and that of course at night. On many jouneys, particularly on the Furst Bismark, of the Hamburg American line, five years ago, the bread was absolutely uneatable, and was thrown in to the water by the irate emigrants.

In providing better accommodations, the English steamship companies have always led; and while the discipline on board of ship is always sticter than on other lines, the care bestowed upon the emigrants is correspondingly greater." (from On the Trail of the Immigrant, by Edward A. Steiner, published in 1906)

"In the early eighties, every steamship had compartments for steerage passengers, in which hundreds of men were huddled together in berths which afforded bare room to lie down. The berths were two deep, and each passenger paid a small sum for a mattress of straw made to fit the berth; he also provided himself with platter and cup, knife and fork, and spoon, which he had to keep clean and stow away for safe keeping. There was no room provided to place hand baggage or small trunks save in the berth. When the man got in, the baggage got out, so that during sleeping hours the small baggage occupied the pathway leading to the berths; if the vessel rocked hard during the night, the rattle of tins and crockery was great, and, in the morning, it was no easy task to locate the grip or small trunk that had slid away. Towels and soap, comb and brush, were nowhere in sight, and the washroom and toilet accommodations were far from decent. The air in the compartment was foul at all times, and every passenger spent as little time there as possible. None of the immigrants thought of undressing when they went to rest – they took off their shoes, removed their coats, and turned in, and with the dawn they were again on deck. No dining room was provided, but the space between the two rows of berths served as one. Some smooth boards, resting on wooden horses, served as a table. In front of the tables were benches. When the meal bell rang, a rush was made for these; then the stewards brought bread, meat, vegetables, etc., each passenger in turn being served as the waiters passed from one end of the table to the other. The bread was good; the meat, tough; the coffee, poor; and the tea – slop....: p. 2-3 of Roberts

Roberts goes on to describe the "Improved Conditions" of the ships of today [1920]. "In this are found inclosed berths to accommodate from four to eight persons. Room is provided for small trunks or hand baggage, and there are hooks upon which to hang clothes. A stationary washstand with towels is furnished, and the button of an electric alarm is near each berth, so that the occupant may, in case of need, summon a steward. The occupants of these quarters secure a degree of privacy that enables them to remove their clothes before they retire. The lavatories are decent, and the conveniences provided are ample and always usable. Regular dining rooms are provided, and the utensils used are furnished by the company and kept clean by the stewards. The food is ample and of good quality, providing care has been exercised in its preparation. These improvements are not common as yet – they are only found on some ships carrying steerage passengers from the northwestern countries of Europe,..." pp. 3-4 of Roberts

The New World:

Steiner describes the fear of the emigrants as they prepare themselves for entry to the new country. The fear of the immigration agents, the medical, and of the unknown. "Yes, those are heavy hours and long, on that day when the ship is circled by the welcoming gulls, and the fire-ship is passed, while the chains rattle and the baggage is piled on the deck..." pp. 54-55 of Steiner

"At last the great heart of the ship has ceased its mighty throbbing, and but a gentle tremor tells that its life has not all been spent in the battle with wind and waves. The waters are of a quieter colour, and over them hovers the morning mist. The silence of the early dawn is broken only by the sound of deep-chested ferry-boats which pass into the mist and out of it, life giant monsters, stalking on their cross beams over the deep. The steerage is awake after its restless night and mutely awaits the disclosures of its own and the new world's secrets. The sound of a booming gun is carried across the hidden space, and faint touches of flame struggling through the gray, are the sun's answer to the salute from Governor's Island. The morning breeze, like a ‘Dancing Psaltress,' moves gently over the glassy surface of the water, lifts the fog higher and higher, tearing it into a thousand fleecy shreds, and the far things have come near and the hidden things have been revealed. The sky line straight ahead, assaulted by a thousand towering shafts, looking like a challenge to the strong, and a warning to the weak, makes all of us tremble from an unknown fear.

The steerage is still mute; it looks to the left at the populous shore, to the right at the green stretches of Long Island, and again straight ahead at the mighty city. Slowly the ship glides into the harbour, and when it passes under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, the silence is broken, and a thousand hands are outstretched in greeting to this new divinity into whose keeping they now entrust themselves." pp. 59-60 of Steiner

The Officials:

Cabin and steerage passengers alike, soon find the poetry of the moment disturbed; for the quarantine and custom-house officials are on board,...

The steerage passengers have before them more rigid examinations which may have vast consequences; so in spite of the joyous notes of the band, and the glad greetings shouted to and fro, they sink again into awe-struck and confused silence. When the last cabin passenger has disappeared from the dock, the immigrants with their baggage are loaded into barges and taken to Ellis Island for their final examination." pp. 62-63 of Steiner

"Before they leave the boat, they put on their best clothes, for they are anxious to look their best and make as favorable an impression as possible upon the representatives of the government;..." p. 34 of Roberts

"The barges on which the immigrants are towed towards the island are of a somewhat antiquated pattern and if I remember rightly have done service in the Castle Garden days, and before that some of them at least had done full service for excursion parties up and down Long Island Sound....

With tickets fastened to our caps and to the dresses of the women, and with our own bills of lading in our trembling hands, we pass between rows of uniformed attendants, and under the huge portal of the vast hall where the final judgment awaits us. We are cheered somewhat by the fact that assistance is promised to most of us by the agents of various National Immigrant Societies who seem both watchful and efficient.

Mechanically and with quick movements we are examined for general physical defects...

From here we pass into passageways made by iron railings, in which only lately, through the intervention of a humane official, benches have been placed, upon which, closely crowded, we await our passing before the inspectors.

Already a sifting process has taken place; and children who clung to their mother's skirts have disappeared, families have been divided, and those remaining intact, cling to each other in a really tragic fear that they may share the fate of those previously examined.

One by one we pass the inspectors; we show our money and answer the questions which are numerous and pertinent.

The examination can be superficial at best; but the eye has been trained and discoveries are made here, which seem rather remarkable.

Four ways open to the immigrant after he passes the inspector. If he is destined for New York he goes straightway down the stairs, and there his friends await him if he has any; and most of them have. If his journey takes him westward, and there the largest percentage goes, he enters a large, commodious hall to the right, where the money-changers sit and the transportation companies have their offices. If he goes to the New England states he turns to the left into a room which can scarcely hold those who go to the land of the pilgrims and puritans. The fourth way is the hardest one and is taken by those who have received a ticket marked P.C. (Public Charge), which sends the immigrant to the extreme left where an official sits, in front of a barred gate behind which is the dreaded detention-room." pp. 67-68 of Steiner

"Each railroad on the Jersey shore has an immigrant room to which the newcomers are taken by ferryboats from Ellis Island. In these rooms the immigrants are kept under strict guard until the immigrant train is made up – invariably at night...." p. 38 of Roberts

"Steerage immigrants must take the immigrant train or secure a first-class ticket on a regular train. Those destined to points within fifty miles or so of New York City are put on the first local train leaving after they are brought to the depot; but if they go eighty or more miles, they must take the immigrant train, which may be made up of a full complement of cars or of one coach which is attached to a regular train. The train starts at night, -- about nine o'clock, -- transporting to their destination the people examined that day at Ellis Island...." p. 39 of Roberts

The People

Steiner, Roberts and Nugent agree that the major reason for the emigration of most of the people was one of economics, especially of those from the southeastern European countries. There were, however, some cases, such as the Jews and the Russian Mennonites, who left due to persecution or on religious grounds. Many of those from the northeastern parts of Europe came as families but Roberts claims that a great many from the southeastern parts came to earn money and then return home. He goes on to state, "The new immigration, as before stated, differs much from the old. The people of southeastern Europe are poor, illiterate, and unskilled as compared with those of the Baltic nations; they have lived under forms of government which are oppressive and autocratic, their religious concepts differ widely from those of nations to the northwest; and yet these men of the new immigration have aspirations and hopes much like the immigrants of previous generations." p. 9 of Roberts.

"No one doubts that the flow of migrants out of Europe accelerated in the nineteenth century, beginning in the 1840s and 1850s, then leaped forward after 1870 when steamships almost completely replaced sailing ships. Early in the century, the voyage from the British Isles to North America took four to six weeks, plenty of time for contagious diseases to ravage passengers and crew. Up to and including the Irish Famine emigration of the 1840s, deaths from typhus, cholera, or other contagions frequently swept away 10 percent, and occasionally 25 percent, of the passengers during a crossing. In the 1850s mortality fell sharply, thanks to voluntary and government-imposed health and sanitary regulations and faster ships, which began to combine steam power with sails.

...The two major German companies, the Hamburg-Amerika line (‘HAPAG,' out of Hamburg) and the Norddeutsche Lloyd (out of Bremen) began biweekly sailings to New York, often with stops at Southampton, in 1858; the schedule went to weekly sailings about ten years later. During the 1870s and 1880s the German passenger ships as well as those of the British White Star and Cunard lines and the French Fabre and Compagnie Générale Transatlantique were mostly in the 2,500 to 5,000 ton range, roughly 375 feet by 40 feet in size, and normally carried several hundred passengers although as many as 1,500 were occasionally packed into them. Technical improvements in the stroke and bore of propellers and the efficiency of engines brought migrants westward ever faster." p. 31 of Nugent


(See Scandinavians)


"Then there are Magyars and Finns, rather close kinsmen, who because one lives in the South and the other far North, are as different as the South is from the North;..." p. 27 of Steiner (See Scandinavians)


"France, it needs to be said right away, played little role in the migration. On balance, it imported people from elsewhere in Europe during much of the period." p. 41 of Nugent


"Arrivals at Castle Garden and, after 1892, Ellis Island were classified as ‘German' if that was their language, but many were Austrians rather than Reich Germans. After the North German Bund abolished passports in 1867, emigrants were more difficult to track, especially if they left from non-German ports such as Trieste, Genoa, and Copenhagen." p. 65 of Nugent

Nugent states that German emigration started early but peaked in the 1880s. After German unification in 1871, emigration drop dramatically. "Germans in Canada often went first to the United States and were recorded as going there..." p. 66 of Nugent



"The Italian emigration, the largest which we receive from any one source, comes primarily from Southern Italy, from the crowded cities with their unspeakable vices; the smallest number of emigrants come from the villages where they have all the virtues of tillers of the soil...The number of Italian emigrants is still undiminished, and in spite of the fact that in recent years more than 200,000 of them have annually left their native land, their withdrawal is scarcely felt and the number could be doubled without perceptible diminution at home." p. 28 of Steiner

Nugent estimates that about 4,000,000 Italians came to North America between 1871 and 1914 of which 150,000 made Canada their home.


"Sombre Jews come, on whose faces fear and care have plowed deep furrows, whose backs are bent beneath the burden of law and lawlessness. They come, thousands at a time, at least 5,000,000 more may be expected; and he does not know what misery is, who has not seen them on that march which has lasted nearly 2,000 years beneath the burden heaped by hate and prejudice. Both peasant and Jew come from Russian, Austrian or Magyar rule, under which they have had few of the privileges of citizenship but many of its burdens. From valleys in the crescent shaped Carpathians, from the sunny but barren slopes of the Alps and from the Russian-Polish plains they are coming as once they went forth from earlier homes; peaceful toilers, who seek a field for their surplus labour or as traders to use their wits, and it is a longer journey than any of their timid forbears ever undertook." pp. 22-23 of Steiner

Nugent states that, "Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews were concentrated most heavily in Austrian Galicia and Russian Lithuania and Poland but lived also throughout what id now Belorussia and the Ukraine." p. 83

He goes on to say that the Jewish emigrants traveled more often as family units. They were outside the law and were forbidden to own land or do many of the things other citizens were allowed. Thus, for survival alone, they emigrated. "Jews were pouring out of the Russian Pale of Settlement and Congress Poland well before 1881. From Germany a probable 140,000 Jews had emigrated in the twenty-five years before 1871, and another 50,000 to 60,000 between then and 1914, most of them to the United States. The East European Jewish migration, however, was much larger. Beginning in the 1870s, much for the usual reasons of comparative economic opportunity and easier transportation, it was spurred in the early 1880s and again after 1900 by successive waves of pogroms in Russia and in Congress Poland." pp. 92-93 of Nugent


"From Lithuania, a province of Russia, come smaller groups of non-Slavic emigrants; people with an old civilization of which little remains, and with a language which leans closest to Sanscrit, yet who, because of their subjection to Russia, have sunk to the level of the Russian peasants." p. 27 of Steiner


"Then there are Magyars and Finns, rather close kinsmen, who because one lives in the South and the other far North, are as different as the South is from the North;..." p. 27 of Steiner


(see Scandinavians)


"The Poles were the next of the Western Slavs to be drawn out of the seclusion of their villages; those from Eastern Prussia being the earliest, and those from Russian Poland the latest who have swelled the stream of emigration.

The largest number of the Polish immigrants is composed of unskilled labourers, most of them coming from villages where they worked in the fields during the summer time, and in winter went to the cities where they did the cruder work in the factories. The Poles from Germany's part of the divided kingdom have furnished nearly their quota of immigrants, and those remaining upon their native acres will continue to remain there, if only to spite the Germans who are grievously disappointed not to see them grow less under the repressive measures of the government.

The Austrian Poles who have retained many of their liberties and have also gained new privileges, have had a national and intellectual revival, under the impulse of which the peasantry has been lifted to a higher level which has reacted upon their economic condition; and although that condition is rather low in Galicia, as that portion of Poland is called, immigration from there has reached its high water mark. The largest increase in immigration among the Poles is to be looked for from Russian Poland where industrial and political conditions are growing worse, and where it will take a long time to establish any kind of equilibrium which will pacify the people and hold them to the soil." pp. 24-25 of Steiner

Nugent states that Poles first emigrated to the large Ontario cities and later to the farms of Alberta and Saskatchewan.


"...Emigrants started sailing west from some parts of Sweden and Norway in the 1840s and 1850s. By 1871, so many Swedes and Norwegians were already living in the United States that serial migration kept the rate of flow unusually high for the next several decades.

The documents for Swedish and Norwegian migration history are exceptionally good. Accurate local record keeping, which began in the eighteenth century, created the longest continuous series in Europe and has permitted more precise statements about Scandinavian migrants and their behavior than for any other group. Although Denmark's migration statistics are not as complete, other sources enabled Kristian Hvidt to compile an accurate register for the 300,000 migrants who left between 1868 and 1914. The Swedish sources even suggest an answer to the vexing question of whether emigrants left because they were unusually enterprising and intelligent or because they were unable to survive and succeed at home...." pp. 55-56 of Nugent

"The customary route began with a coastal ferry or a train to one of several ports: in Norway, Trondheim, Bergen, or Kristiania (Oslo); in Sweden, Göteborg; in Denmark, Copenhagen; and in Finland, Vaasa and Hangö. Scandinavian ships took the migrants across the north Sea to Hull, where they boarded trains for Liverpool. They then made the transatlantic crossing on British liners. British companies wrote 90 percent of the tickets from Sweden in the 1880s and captured much of the Norwegian (even Icelander) traffic as well. Exceptions included the few who took trains to Hamburg or Bremen and then a German ship to New York, as well as passengers on the Danish Thingvalla Line from Copenhagen direct to New York. From there railroads led to Chicago or points in the upper Mississippi Valley." p. 59 of Nugent

The Danes came in great numbers from the Baltic island of Bornholm, from the Zealand district of Lolland-Falster, from Copenhagen, and the southern tip of Jutland and other areas on the German boarder. "...After the Danish-Prussian War of 1864, North Schleswig became German, which prompted Danes to leave there in unusual numbers. Religion also motivated many Danes who had converted to the Baptist or the Mormon faith in the nineteenth century; tens of thousands left for America, where there was no established church." p. 56 of Nugent

Nugent goes on to say that between 1851 and 1930 some quarter of a million Swedes emigrated to North America. They came mostly from the provinces west and south of Stockholm, namely, Hallard, Jönköping, Värmland, Kronoberg, Kalmar, and Alvsborg.

Norwegian emigrants came in great numbers from Sognefjord and the districts of Valdres and hallingdall.

Icelanders made their way to the Canadian west and settled in Manitoba while Swedes, Danes and Norwegians headed to Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. (Nugent, p. 58)

"Of the four nationalities, Finns were the latest to join the mass migration. Although a few departed as early as 1864, not until the 1880s, a stagnant decade in Scandinavia, did heavy Finnish emigration begin. Much of it came from the Swedish-speaking east coast of the Gulf of Bothnia and continued even more strongly from there after 1900." pp. 56-57 of Nugent


Bohemians "...started this stream of emigration as early as the seventeenth century, sending us the noblest of their sons and daughters, the heroes and heroines of the reformatory wars; idealists, who like the Pilgrim Fathers, came for "Freedom to worship God." Their descendants have long ago been blended into the common life of the people of America, scarcely conscious of the fact that they might have the same pride in ancestry which the descendants of the Pilgrims delight to exhibit. Not until the latter part of the nineteenth century, in the 70s, did the Bohemian immigrants come in large numbers and in a steady stream, bringing with them the Czechs of Moravia, a neighbouring province... Nearly all Bohemian immigrants come to stay, and adjust themselves more or less easily to their environment. The economic distress which has brought them here, while never acute, threatens to become so now from the over accentuated language struggle which diverts the energies of the people and makes proper legislation impossible. The building of railroads and other governmental enterprises have been retarded by parliamentary obstructionists, to whom language is more than bread and butter. Business relations with the Germanic portions of Austria have come almost to a standstill; conditions which are bound to increase emigration from Bohemia's industrial centres." pp. 23-24 of Steiner

"The Slovaks, who were relatively the best off, and further away from the main arteries of travel, are, comparatively speaking, newcomers and furnish at present the largest element in the Western Slavic immigration. They have retained most staunchly many of their Slavic characteristics, are the least impressionable among the Western Slavs, and usually come, lured by the increased wages. They are most liable to return to the land of their fathers after saving money enough materially to improve their lot in life.

From the Austrian provinces, Carinthia and Styria, come increasingly large numbers of Slovenes who are really the link between the Eastern and Western Slavs. They belong to the highest type of that race, but represent only a small portion of the large Slavic family. Of the Eastern Slavs, only the Southern group has moved towards America, the Russian peasant being bound to the soil, and unable to free himself from the obligation of paying the heavy taxes, by removal to a foreign country. With the larger freedom which is bound to come to him, will also come economic relief so that the emigration of the Russian peasnat in large numbers is not a likelihood.

Lured by promises of higher wages in our industrial centres, Croatians and Slovenians come in increasingly large numbers, while in smaller numbers come Servians and Bulgarians.

The only Slavs who are thorough seamen and who are coming to our coasts in increasingly large numbers as sailors and fishermen, are the Dalmatians; and last but most heroic of all the Slavs, is the Montenegrin, who has held his mountain fastnesses against the Turk and who has been the living wall, resisting the victories of Islam. His little country is blessed by but a few crumbs of soil between huge mountains and boulders, and in the measure in which peace reigns in the Balkans, he is without occupation and sustenance; so that he is compelled to seek these more fertile shores, where he will for the first time in history and quite unconsciously, ‘Turn the sword into a plowshare and the spear into a pruning hook.'" pp. 25-27 of Steiner

Nugent states that Solvaks began to emigrate in the 1870s and more so after the crop failures of 1879. "Solvak young women, like their Irish counterparts, often migrated by themselves or in groups, finding positions as domestic servants in the United States." p. 90 of Nugent


(See Scandinavians)


Nugent, Walter, Crossings: The Great Transatlantic Migrations, 1870-1914, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992)

Roberts, Peter, The New Immigration, (New York: Macmillian Co.,1920).

Steiner, Edward A., On The Trail of the Immigrant, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co.,1906).

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