Immigrants to Canada

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Immigration Report of 1854

The following information was extracted from the British Parliamentary Papers, 1854, Session 1854/55, XXXIX.

Number of Immigrants

Number From 1853 1854
England 9,585 18,175
Ireland 14,417 16,168
Scotland 4,745 6,446
Germany 2,400 5,688
Norway 5,056 5,849
  36,699 53,183

Number of Vessels

  Vessels under the Act. Vessels not under the Act.
No. Passengers No. Passengers
England 57 16,886 89 1,572
Ireland 81 15,878 16 366
Scotland 37 5,770 5 673
Foreign Ports 60 11,615 1 7

Of the whole number of ships, 10 brought exclusively cabin passengers: 46 sailing vessels made two voyages, and the four steamers of the Canadian Mail Line made nine voyages during the season, and brought out 1,786 steerage and 429 cabin passengers from Liverpool.

The number of adults on board the whole 386 vessels were 43,476, while the vessels could have legally carried, according to their tonnage measurement, 94,555, exclusive of their crews. The average length of the passage from the United Kingdom was 47 days, and from Continental Ports 58 days. The average passage of the steamers from Liverpool was 16 days. On further reference to this table it will appear that the excess of female adults over males from Ireland has been very considerable, equal to 2,200 adults, being double that of last season; and I find, on referring back to the returns of 1851, the first season in which any excess was perceived, that the number each season has been gradually increasing, and now shows an excess during these four years of 5,270 more female than male adults.

...The large increase in the mortality is to be attributed to the cholera, as I find the admission of emigrants from this disease at the Marine and Emigrant Hospital was 198; of which 92 died. The deaths from cholera at the Montreal General Hospital were 48, and at Grosse Isle 8; total 148; so that if the deaths from this disease are deducted, the health of the season's emigration will bear an equally favourable comparison with that of any former year.

I have to report the loss of three vessels with emigrants bound to this port during the past season, but which was happily unattended with any loss of life.

The first was the "Helen Thompson," from Troon, with 145 passengers, lost in the ice on the 18th May; 15 of the passengers reached this port in the brig "Dykes," and 130 were taken on board the brig "Sarah" and landed at Richibucto, N.B.

The second, the "Anne Kenny," from Liverpool, with 13 passengers, wrecked on Anticosti on the 17th June, passengers all saved, and reached this port by the steamer "Doris."

The third was the barque "Tottenham," from Cork, with 101 passengers, lost near Port Nova, Cape Breton, on the 20th October, passengers and luggage all saved. They were forwarded by the master by a schooner to Halifax, and from thence proceeded to Boston, their destination being chiefly to the United States. A large number of shipwrecked emigrants have been brought to this port taken from ships bound to Boston or New York.

The following is a return of the number of those received during the past season, viz.:

Vessels arrived at Quebec Vessels from whence the Emigrants were received, from whence, and where bound No. of Passengers
Name Whence Destination
Paragon Winchester Liverpool Boston 29
Mary Caroline - - - 130
Ann - - - 15
Transit - - - 19
Robert Burns - - - 41
Good Intent Black Hawk - New York 70
Leonard Dobbin Cachelot Havre - 108
Dykes Helen Thompson Troon Quebec 15
Wilkinson - - - 14

The passengers from the "Winchester" were, on arrival here, taken in charge by the agents of Messrs. Train & Co. and conveyed to Boston. Those by the "Cachelot" were forwarded by this department to New York, the cost of which was repaid by the agents of that ship, Messrs. Lane, West & Co. Those by the "Black Hawk" were also forwarded, but no part of this expense has been recovered. The claims of the ships which rescued these people are still unsettled, amounting in some of the cases to a large sum: those by the "Mary Caroline" had been over 30 days on board of that vessel, and the master not only expended his ship's stores, but he had to purchase from several vessels he spoke at sea. The delay and difficulty which masters of vessels experience in obtaining a reimbursement of the expenditure incurred by them in their humane act of saving the lives of their fellow-creatures has subjected them to much inconvenience, and even to personal loss; and it is greatly to be regretted that, instead of stimulating them to increased exertions in the performance of acts which are not unfrequently attended with very great peril to life, as well as serious loss, by an immediate and liberal acknowledgment of their just claims, that great unwillingness on the part of those interested in their payment should become the subject of complaint by the masters; and it is needless to observe that the true policy in such cases is to encourage instead of throwing impediments in the way of efforts specially made in the spirt of humanity. A remedy for this might be found by granting authority to the collectors of this port to settle these claims at a fixed scale, as allowed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in the case of shipwrecked seamen, and remit the accounts to England for liquidation in the manner prescribed and provided for under the 50th clause of the passenger Act.

- "It also appears that 295 Germans sailed from Hull, and 255 from Dublin, and 108 were brought to this port by a London ship, taken from the wreck of the "Cachalet" from Havre, for New York, abandoned at sea"

- says 5,811 Norwegians immigrated through Canada that year and 39 deaths on the voyage

- "From the growing importance of Hamilton, and the great increase of the emigrant traffic which passes through that city, since the opening of the Great Western Railroad, making it now the most direct route to the great West, it may be found desirable to establish a permanent and efficient agency there, for the purpose of affording every necessary protection and advice to the large emigration which will now annually pass by that route. The necessity of an agency at Berlin would not appear to be required during the ensuing season, as from its proximity to Hamilton the duties could be efficiently performed by that office."

- "From a return of the emigration to the port of New York it would appear that 313,747 arrived there during the year 1854, being an increase of over 30,000 on the emigration of 1853... But the great increase appears to have been in the German emigration, which shows an excess of over 47,000 on the number in 1853.

"The Norwegian emigration to the United States appears to have almost entirely ceased, having fallen off gradually from 3,000 in 1852 to 91 souls, the number landed during the past year. The Norwegian emigration to this continent appears now to be confined almost exclusively to this route, and the numbers have shown a steady annual increase since its commencement in 1850."

- "A small party of from 50 to 60 Norwegians have acquired some property in the eastern townships, near Sherbrooke, and from the steady and industrious habits of these people, I entertain great hopes of their proving a valuable acquisition to that important section of the province, and moreover be instrumental in attracting to it other parties of their countrymen in succeeding years. This is the first party of Norwegians of any consequence who have established themselves in Canada, and their attraction thereto is attributed to the favourable reports which they have received from two of their countrymen, who settled in that district in 1853. Should they prove successful (and of which I have little doubt) we may look for a further addition to their numbers during the ensuing season."

- "On the other hand, the increased advantages offered by the St. Lawrence route, since the opening of the Great Western railway (which renders it now the cheapest and most direct route to the Great West from Europe), are now becoming known. Our unrivalled inland navigation from Quebec to Hamilton, 590 miles, thence by railroad to Chicago, a distance of 465 miles further, places the emigrant at once in the heart of the great Western States; and when it is considered that this journey can be performed in the space of about five days, and at a cost of somewhat less than 2L. sterling, these facts, in addition to the well-known protection afforded, whereby emigrants are exempt from many of the evils to which they have been too notoriously exposed in the United States, cannot but most materially benefit and encourage the emigration from Europe by this route, and which, at no distant day, must become the leading thoroughfare to the Great West; and to these causes, in a great measure, may be attributed the steady annual increase in the amount of our foreign emigration."

- "The unhealthiness of the past season in consequence of the prevalence of cholera throughout Canada, occasioned much distress, especially amongst the German emigrants; but the number of deaths amongst the emigrants of British origin was not large. I attribute this difference to the fact that the vessels in which the former were transported were generally more crowded, as they came to Quebec in large bodies together, and proceeded in the same crowded state up the St. Lawrence and the lakes to their places of destination in the Western States."


Ports whence Sailed Number of Vessels Steerage Cabin Births Total Deaths at Sea In Quarantine Landed in Colony
Arendal 1 188 - - 188 - - 188
Bergen 7 1,454 - 1 1,455 2 1 1452
Christiana 8 1,749 4 4 1,757 16 - 1,741
Drammen 2 320 - 1 321 2 - 319
Gottenburg 2 259 14 3 276 13 - 263
Krageroe 3 523 - - 523 - - 523
Larvig 1 7 - - 7 - - 7
Ostersior 1 62 - - 62 2 - 60
Posgrund 2 499 - 3 503 2 - 500
Stavanger 3 615 4 2 621 1 - 620
Walve Saltvork 1 176 - - 176 - - 176
  31 5,852 22 14 5,888 38 1 5,849

Weekly Reports

From 17th to 26th May, 1854

"...The port of Liverpool contributes over 1,800 person; more than one-half of whom are foreigners, chiefly Germans. The foreign emigrants which have arrived this season, have brought out a large amount of money with them, generally in drafts on New York and gold. the Norwegians all proceed to Wisconsin; the Germans are more generally scattered over the American Union, and a number of respectable, wealthy families have gone to settle in Western Canada."

From 27th to the 28th May

From 29th May to 3d June

"...The foreign emigration, which is largely on the increase by this route, numbered 1,311 persons, 1,203 of whom came direct from continental ports, and 108 by the "Leonard Dobbin" from London, were from the ship "Duchalot" from Havre to New York, abandoned at sea. These parties were forwarded to New York by the agents of the "Duchalot." The foreign emigration by the vessels in this return have, with few exceptions, proceeded direct to the Western States."

From 4th to the 20th June

"The emigrants arrived during the period embarced in this return, have landed in good health, with the exception of those by the "Glenmanna," from Liverpool; 44 deaths occurred among the passengers, from measles and disarrhoea; and 8 were reported sick on arrival at Grosse Isle. Sickness has appeared to a greater extent among the emigrants from liverpool, this season, than from any other port. There were a good many foreigners on board of each of the ships from this port, chiefly Germans and Swedes, and disease has appeared to exist, to a greater extent among the, than with out own countrymen. Of the total emigration from Liverpool, 2,190 over 700 were foreigners, which would give the number of foreigners in this return 2,974 over, half of which are Norwegians, and who, with but few exceptions, proceeded direct tot he Western States; 14 Norwegian families (60 persons) by the "Flora," from Christiana, have proceeded to settle in the Eastern townships, where they have been induced to proceed from the representations received from a few of their countrymen, who settled in Sherbrooke two years since, and where it would appear they have done well, and are held in high estimation by the inhabitants. Four of the families of this season have purchased farms, and the rest of the party are employed on the Railroad.

From 21st June to 3d July

The emigrant ships included in this return have landed their passengers in good health; of the whole number of emigrants landed 4,206, 1,802 were foreigners, chiefly Norwegians; 1,444 came be vessels direct, and 358 via Liverpool. they have proceeded to the Western States.

From 3d to 31st July

The deaths on the passage were 112, chiefly confined to the Liverpool vessels; and among the foreigners the deaths on board vessels, from Liverpool, were 79; foreign ships 29; while among the emigrants from Irish and Scotch ports there were but 4.

From 31st July to 31st August

Seven thousand one hundred and thirty-two emigrants landed at this port during the past month. The deaths on the passage were 46, chiefly children, 26 of which occurred on board three ships from Liverpool. Of the total number, 2,199 were foreigners, 1,610 of whom came direct, and 589 via Liverpool;

From 31st August to 30th September

The emigrants arrived during the month of September, numbering 4,566, have all landed in good health, but 26 deaths occurred during their passage, 10 of which were on board the Norwegian ship "Norden" from Christiana.

From 30th September to 8th November

"They generally landed in good health, the total mortality during the passage being but 65, 32 of whom occurred on board two vessels, the "Larvig," from Gottenburg, and the "Oregon," from Liverpool..


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© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1997-2007
Last updated: February 17, 2007 and maintained by Marj Kohli