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The following is immigration information as the Agents prepared for the 1868 season, from Sessional Papers, 31 Victoria (33), 1868.
This is a series of letters written in the spring of 1868 as the agents prepared for a new season. Mr. A.C. Buchanan, Chief Emigrate Agent at Quebec died in February of that year and Mr. L. Stafford became acting Agent. There also was a major change in policy as the new Dominion Government took over. The Government discontinued the policy of assisting destitute foreign emigrants with inland passage money. This decision, however, was made to late to inform the emigrants, who were already onboard ships making their way to Canada.
After leaving Liverpool, I proceeded to Dublin, and spent four days in the Midland Counties. I had introductions to persons in Longford, which is a very important market town, and had the opportunity of making the acquaintance of several farmers, whom I had much conversation about Canada. I found that Lord Longford (who owns much of the district) had appointed a new agent, and he was notifying the tenants of an increase of the rents after march. One holder of four acres, let for £12 per annum, was to be raised to £18, and other farms in nearly as great a ratio, I then went to Newtown-Forbes, Granard and Mullingar, and found, in every instance, a great desire for information. I explained the scheme of free lands, as proposed by the Province of Ontario, and arranged for a considerable distribution of the next issue of the Gazette, and am in hopes that we shall get some good settlers from this district. I spent a week in this manner, and felt much regret that I was not at liberty to prolong my stay. I am sadly in what of an addition of the Gazette for this year. I am almost out of the November lot, and several agents, who distribute for me, are asking for more. I think it very desirable that the date should not be given in them. I can distribute well, in March, April and May, 70,000 copies, as I shall be able to procure a list of names of the bulk of the tenant farmers in Ireland, a large number can be well-placed; but this will depend on the assistance allowed me. The Liverpool passenger brokers, engaged in the Continental trade, are extremely anxious to be made acquainted with the free land system, that they may advise their correspondents. I can arrange with about a dozen of good agents on the Continent without going over there, but it will be desirable to have parts of the Gazette translated for use there."
Under the present system and until some means are found, either to prevent or restrict the influx of foreign pauper immigrants to our shores, the annual expenditure at this Agency for transport and relief must necessarily be large, and will always, as a matter of course, be regulated by the character and extent of the immigration, so that in any estimate I might send you it would be totally out of my power to state, with any degree of accuracy, what the amount of such expenditure would probably be.
The whole question of granting transport assistance to foreign immigrants has been so thoroughly canvassed by the late Chief Immigration Agent, in some of his recent reports, and more particularly in his official letter, dated 13th September, 1866 (an extract from which I beg to enclose), that I beg most respectfully to refer you to his views given therein, based as they were upon the experience of many years' service, and to ask for them that consideration which my own knowledge of the question convinces me they deserve.
In connection with this subject, I may perhaps be permitted to observe that, from reports I have already received, the foreign emigration to this port during the approaching season promises to be larger than usual, and will also set in earlier, for passenger ships are expected to arrive in the St. Lawrence from Germany and Norway, in the beginning of next month.
It can well be imagined that if upon the arrival of a batch of 2,000 or 3,000 in one day, fully one-fifth of whom will most certainly be landed at Point Levi without food and without money to take them onward, we have no shelter to give them, and if we have no power to assist them to reach their relatives in the west, or to places where they can obtain immediate employment amongst those who speak their own language, that they will, in a few days, crowd our wharves and city as beggars, and perhaps from want and exposure become the means of introducing epidemic disease amongst us. In such a case the Government, but more particularly the Immigration Department, would be exposed to much public censure. Therefore, supposing even that these people had been landed here without having paid any Capitation Tax (which the laws say is to be applied in assisting them), we should in self-defence, and as a means of public safety, be compelled to assist them, and until legislation is had on the subject, I see no means of curtailing this expenditure at the Port of Quebec.
I hope, therefore, that you will not accuse me of overstepping the strict limits of my duty when I humbly but respectfully request that this subject may be re-considered, and that whilst keeping in view the necessity of exercising the most searching economy in the matter, in order to keep the expenditure for immigration purposes within the limits of the appropriation, the Minister will be pleased to confer upon this Office the discretionary power it has hitherto held in dealing with the exigencies of the case."
Up to the 1st of July the amount received for the inland transport alone, cannot have been less than from $50,000 to $60,000, and if we have not, up to the present, been able to offer (at least to the Norwegian portion) sufficient inducements to remain with us, let us endeavour to secure as much benefit as possible from their transit through our country."
However, on 17 April 1868 the reply from Mr. Taché was: "In answer to your communication relating to the land transport of immigrants at the expense of the Government, I am particularly instructed to direct you to adhere strictly to the orders already given. Therefore, you shall not incur any expenses on that account, and you shall not pay any other Agencies' expense for the same beyond the amount entered in the accepted estimates of each quarter, unless you are specially authorized by this Department."
The greater part of these men were sent out by subscriptions raised for the purpose, and arrived here without funds at a time when business in these branches of trade was and is still very dull, very many found their way to this city destitute and totally unable to find employment of any kind.
The Government Immigration Agent here being restricted in his relief, to giving them passes to other points, and to furnishing them with a few loaves of bread, these starving operatives fell upon the hands of the St. George's Society, whose Committee relieved them with money to buy food and fuel: several of these families were found by that Committee to have pawned the greater part of their clothing and bedding to obtain food, and were consequently at the commencement of a severe winter, not only without sufficient food but without fuel and sufficient clothing to protect them from the cold.
Of course the object of this Society is to give to English Emigrants such assistance as their funds will allow; but the circumstances above mentioned have led to an unusual demand upon their funds, and to an extra expenditure of at least $150, and this has not ceased; for immigrants of the above character are applying for relief, and the Society feel that under the circumstances they have a fair claim to that amount upon the funds at the disposal of the Immigration Department.
That Department should make good to this Society an extra expenditure caused by the representation of its own Agent, and I have respectfully to request that you will give such directions in the premises as will lead to this Society being reimbursed the above amount out of the funds at the disposal of the Immigration Department."
I have to state that I issued 10,000 copies of the posting bill referred to on the 27th February, 1867. The subject-matter was taken from the Emigration Gazette, carefully compiled, was approved of by the Chief Agent at Quebec, and I cannot perceive a word that could be considered objectionable for the season in which they were issued; at the foot of the bill I invited intending emigrants to apply to me for information. Five hundred of these bills were distributed in London, at the above date, it was not decided to ship any of these men from the East End until July, none of them applied to me for information, and I think it questionable if they ever saw a copy of the posting bill until they arrived in Toronto. The facts of the case are these: owing to the dreadful destitution existing in London, a Committee was formed to alleviate the distress, and Mr. Kingscote published an address in the Times, asking for funds to send some of these out of work to Canada, and quoting from the late Mr. Buchanan's report, that iron-workers were wanted in Canada West, a copy of this letter I enclose to you with the passage marked.
On the 10th of July, 1867, I received a note from Mr. Haly, the Honorary Secretary, advising me of their intention to send out a number of distressed operatives, I replied to this note on the same day, and clearly pointed out the classes who could find employment, and explained that Mr. Buchanan's remarks would not apply to iron ship-builders, shinglers, &c. I also requested Mr. Haley[sic] to supply me with a list of the avocations of those the Society proposed sending out, and would refer you to the copy of my letter of July 10th. I received an incomplete list of the names and trades of the families from Mr. Haley, on the 29th July. The selection seemed to me to have been made with considerable care, and I advised Mr. Haly that, in my opinion, there would be no difficulty in settling them on arrival. The list of names and trades, with the number of women and children, I posted to the Chief Agent. I have requested Mr. Stafford to enclose you the copy, the one I retained I was obliged to send down to Mr. Haly, and the did not return it. The number stated as shipped by the Thames was 147 souls.
As the Committee proposed to make a further shipment, I wrote requesting them to send young women (aged between 15 and 25 years, accustomed to household work, &c., and that we could find employment for five or six hundred shipped during the season. This the Committee declined, but they decided to send out 170 souls by the St. Lawrence, of a similar class to those shipped by the Thames, a list of names, &c., I posted to Mr. Buchanan, August 15th, 1867. I have requested Mr. Stafford to analyze the list, shewing the number of men (with their calling), women and children; several of the girls were of an age to go into service, and a large number of the families were, judging by the names, Irish who would have no claim on the St. George's Society. According to the list furnished me by the Secretary, the Committee shipped in all, 317 souls, and not between five and six hundred as stated by the President. The Secretary, however, advised me that his lists were not perfect, and possibly there may have been a trifling addition to those named. I was assured by members of the Committee (and they are all gentlemen of the highest standing), that the greatest care would be taken that those only of good character should be selected.
You will perceive, by the reports of our inland Agents (published in the November number of the Emigration Gazette, copies of which I beg to enclose), that they refer to the families sent out by the London Committee, and state that they were profitably employed with but little delay.
I would respectfully say, in addition, that I feel surprised at the President of the Toronto St. George's Society, making so great a charge against an absent man, without some little investigation. That I cannot charge myself with any of the acts of indiscretion which he has imputed to me, in the discharge of my emigration duties, and that unless he has other charges to bring forward, I am unable to see the justice of the claim he has made against the Department.
Trusting that this explanation may prove satisfactory to you,...
(Note: no list appears in the report.)
Carpenters, masons, bricklayers, plasterers, painters, black and white smiths, tailors, shoemakers, sewing girls, girls who have been accustomed to any description of household work, boiler-makers, labourers (more particularly those acquainted with farm work), and persons having a knowledge of woollen and flax manufactures, would be certain to find profitable employment immediately on their arrival in Canada.
Our Government would not grant assistance towards the passage of persons emigrating, but on arrival the Immigration Agents, whose names you will see in the paper I send, would give the new comers every advice and assistance in their power to find employment and comfortable homes.
Mr. Buchanan's remarks concerning iron-workers, would be rather wide as understood in England, iron ship builders could not find employment at their business in Canada, as works of that class are not carried on, nor could 'saddlers,' 'shinglers,' or men engaged in iron-rolling find employment in any number, I would not advise them to go out without first endeavouring to arrange work for them.
For young females the demand is so great, that in the early part of the season, I was desired to make application to Irish Unions to ascertain if the Guardians would be willing to send out a few hundreds, the Carlow Guardians only sent out a few (13). I received letters from Toronto, a few days ago, announcing their arrival, and that they were placed in comfortable situations immediately, at wages varying from 16s. to 20s. stg. a month.
The price of passage by the Montreal Company Mail Steamers, from Liverpool, to Quebec, has been reduced to £4 each adult, according to the bill I enclose. When the Committee have decided on the number to be sent it would be very desirable that Mr. Buchanan, the Chief Agent, should be advised a week or two before their shipment, in order to give him an opportunity to arrange for their settlement.
I will be very please if you would furnish me with the calling of those proposed to be sent out, that none may be shipped but those whose trades would enable them to materially benefit their condition."
I had already, prior to the receipt of Mr. Haly's letter, in consequence of hearing through the English papers that an emigration of this kind was contemplated, written to our Agent, Mr. Dixon, begging of him to discountenance the scheme by every effort in his power, as the demand for iron-workers in this country is, at present, extremely limited, so that I think there need be no fear of our being troubled with another batch of emigrants of a similar character again this season."
The Committee will be much obliged by your making the necessary arrangements for the reception of these people, and by your forwarding them to those towns and stations in the colony where the8ir labor may be required.
The emigrants have been selected with great care-their characters have been strictly enquired into. They are not paupers or persons in receipt of parochial relief, and therefore it will not be necessary for you to give them the £1 per head, per adult, which the Poor Law Board requires to be given to such persons as are paid for or assisted by the guardians.
I think from the reports which have reached me, that it is better that the emigrants should not have such a sum handed to them indiscriminately. Nevertheless the Committee would much regret that the poor people should suffer from the want of this allowance or be left destitute thereby, and they will cheerfully defray any small charges which may be incurred in supporting them until they can be forwarded to the places at which their labor is required. The Committee will be glad to receive from you a report respecting immigration and the requirements of the colony.
It hoping[sic] to hear from you that the emigrants arrived out safely, and that you approve of them, and that they are of service to Canada."
Also a copy of another letter dated 9 April 1868: "You will like to know that we are making arrangements for sending 100 statute adults to Canada in the first steamer, the St. Lawrence, leaving the Thames on the 16th inst. We selected the people at Poplar yesterday. They are all families, not paupers or in the receipt of parish relief, but distressed artizans and work people, out of employment in consequence of the stagnation in the ship-building yards. They are a very creditable body of people, and I hope they will prove useful to Canada."
Also a letter dated 10 April 1868 from Mr.Dixon to Mr. Haly: "...The Acting Agent begged me to request the Committee not to send any more iron-ship builders or dock laborers. Men following the other avocations could be easily disposed of.
I hope those booked for the St. Lawrence may prove more suited to their wants than those shipped last season, and that Mr. Donaldson's complaint may not be repeated. Since Mr. Buchanan's death, in February, Mr. L. Stafford of Quebec has been the Acting Chief Agent. Would you kindly send him a list of those going on Thursday, with their trades, by to-morrow night's mail, if possible, that he may be prepared to receive them on arrival."
I see by the list they are composed principally of mechanics and labourers, men with large families, and few of the children over ten years old. I have written Mr. Stafford to send our proportion of them, and he will endeavor to do the best he can for them, but before incurring any expense, I thought best to have the benefit of your advice. On their arrival here I have no doubt they will be penniless, and last year I found the most ready plan of finding them employment was by sending them to the nearest towns and rural districts, but under the new regulations I will not be able to do so this season, and if those people are to be allowed into the premises they must be fed in some way, and I thought best to write you in time, as I do not wish to incur any displeasure in the discharge of my duty.
I think if a notice was put into the Globe or Leader for a short time it would have the effect in assisting, in a great measure, in providing places for them,-not only this batch, but immigrants generally. In this, too, I will await your advice. I must say I think it unfortunate this class of people should come here at all, more especially at this season of the year, as it will be likely to create a bad impression. However, we will do the best for them and only hope they will be a more moral lot than we had last season.
They are the parties to which the St. George's Society referred, in their application that a portion of the fund they had paid them should be refunded by the Immigration Department."
Mr. Taché replied on 18 April, 1868: "In answer to your communication of the 21th inst., relating to destitute London Emigrants expected by the steamship St. Lawrence, I am instructed to request you to keep within the limits of the sum allowed in the estimate furnished; you are, at the same time, directed to notify all persons whom you know to be concerned in the transport of immigrants, that the Government has determined not to allow the usual expenditure for the transport of immigrants to be continued, as you will see by a copy of an Order in Council which will be sent you to-morrow."
During this month, now nearly closed, I have not given a single pass except three, and they were extreme cases, and only a short distance from Toronto. I found some difficulty to change a system so long carried on all at once. However, I may be allowed to state that I have no desire whatever to exceed the limit of my instruction, and will adhere to them to the letter in future. This Agency, it will be observed, differs from most of the others, as all the immigrants arriving at Portland for Canada, during the winter months, make their way to Toronto without stopping at any of the Eastern Agencies, and of course they never see them at all at Quebec; this involves a much larger amount of duty than elsewhere, and those people have to be provided with employment at a season of the year when work is not plenty. If, therefore, I have erred in my anxiety to discharge the duties devolving upon me in endeavouring to do everything for the benefit of the Department, I certainly am guilty, but under all the circumstances, and the new changes of things, I have done the best I could, and at the least expense.
I did not intend making the tour of enquiry before first putting the matter before you, but one of the Directors of the Nipissing Railway Company came to me late in the afternoon of Wednesday, and said they were some going with the train, leaving at 5 p.m., and I did not like to lose so good a chance of collecting a large amount of valuable information as I did, and when I started I fully expected to return on Saturday evening, but finding a great demand for labourers at the different meetings, I was induced to go through to the end of the route, and where I had an opportunity of seeing where lands could be had by parties wishing to purchase, and where labourers would find employment. Mr. O'Donohoe, my Assistant, was attending to the office in my absence, and on my return I found all right."
UWInfo | Young Immigrants | Genealogy | Local History | 19th Century Immigration
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