Rising Population and Immigration
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Canada at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century
Rising Population and Immigration
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Rising Population and Immigration

During the first half of the nineteenth century, the British colonies in North America experienced a strong growth in population.
By 1830, 30,000 newcomers a year landed at Quebec, which was considered the gateway to the Canadas. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
By 1830, 30,000 newcomers a year landed at Quebec, which was considered the gateway to the Canadas. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
British North America now had about one million inhabitants. This growth was generated by a wave of immigration from the British Isles. About 30,000 immigrants landed each year in Quebec City, the capital of Lower Canada. Some of them remained in Lower Canada but the majority of the new arrivals went on to settle in Upper Canada.

In 1830, Upper Canada had 260,000 inhabitants and the most rapid population growth. On the other hand, Lower Canada still had the larger population with around 400,000 inhabitants.

In 1832, Quebec had 28,000 inhabitants while Montreal had 27,000. Between 1815 and 1851, Montreal 's population tripled, increasing from 15,000 to 57,000 inhabitants. In Upper Canada the city of York became Toronto in 1834.
Some middle-class families moved to Canada because of economic hard times in Britain in the 1820s and 1830s.  (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Some middle-class families moved to Canada because of economic hard times in Britain in the 1820s and 1830s. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Between 1832 and 1834 its population doubled, increasing to more than 9,000 inhabitants.

Immigrants arrived from Liverpool and London in England, from Greenock in Scotland and from Dublin and Belfast in Ireland. The majority of them fled countries that were in the grip of serious economic crises. They all hoped for a better future in North America.

A young English writer, Catharine Parr Strickland, was dazzled by the beauty of her new country. She and her husband, Thomas, were part of the thousand or so pioneers who arrived each year to clear fertile lands in the young colony. In her book, The Backwoods of Canada, she gave this description of her voyage along the St. Lawrence:

"The misty curtain is slowly drawn up, as if by invisible hand, and the wild, wooded mountains partially revealed, with their bold rocky and sweeping bays.

"At other times the vapoury volume dividing, moves along the valleys and deep ravines, like lofty pillars of smoke, or hangs in snowy draperies among the dark forest pines."

She had many hopes for her new land as well:

"Canada is the land of hope; here, everything is new, everything is moving forward; it is unlikely that sciences, agriculture or industry should ever lose ground; they must continue to progress."

Immigration also brought its misfortunes.
English author Catharine Parr Traill immigrated to Canada in May 1832 and helped develop the country's literary culture.  (As portrayed by Maxim Roy in Canada: A People's History)
English author Catharine Parr Traill immigrated to Canada in May 1832 and helped develop the country's literary culture. (As portrayed by Maxim Roy in Canada: A People's History)
In 1832, a cholera epidemic killed more than 9,000 people in the colonies.
In 1847, while the Great Famine was reaching its peak in Ireland, the Syria dropped anchor at Grosse Île, a quarantine island. On board were 241 Irish immigrants. During the summer of 1847, 50 people died there each day. Six men worked full time to dig graves. The death toll was tragic: more than 20,000 Irish immigrants died that year.

By 1849, British North America, United Canada (Upper and Lower Canada), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland had 2 million inhabitants

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