Elementary School Resources
Home Radio Television Curio.ca
CAPH banner left CAPH banner centre CAPH banner right
Elementary School Resources
Newcomers to Canada
Header 3 Header 4 Header 5
History Home
LESSON 21: Newcomers to Canada

yellow divider

This lesson corresponds to material found in:
Episode 8 The Great Enterprise

yellow divider


1840 to 1850 was marked by expanded immigration to Canada. Hundreds of thousands of people streamed into the country in search of a better life. Among them were Blacks fleeing slavery and seeking the freedom that had been denied them in the United States for generations.

The Fugitive Slave Act, an American law passed in 1850, permitted pro-slavery states to arrest and extradite any and all fugitive slaves and accomplices in the crime. The passage of this controversial bill drove many Blacks, free and slave, to cross the border into Canada where slavery had been outlawed, to ensure their personal liberty. Black men and women found free communities in Ontario, notably Amherstburg and Dresden.

Other Blacks moved to Toronto to start their new lives. They encountered suspicion and hostility, but also celebrated the emergence of their distinctive identities. Josiah Henson set up the community of Dawn and became a fundraiser for a vocational school he founded to educate the largely illiterate fugitive slave population. Mary Ann Shadd, a free Black from Delaware, settled in Chatham and established a school in Windsor and published a newspaper, The Provincial Freeman.

Nearly simultaneously, another wave of immigrants arrived from Ireland. The Irish sought refuge from starvation and their landlords who had driven them from their homesteads. They endured filthy, disease-infested cargo vessels on their long trek overseas. Those who survived settled in working-class districts of cities or sought work on the land. Orphans who survived were given up for adoption.

Among the Irish immigrants was Thomas D'Arcy McGee, a journalist. He immigrated to North America in 1842, then returned to Ireland where he incited his compatriots to revolt. When he came back to Canada in 1857, he was elected to the legislature. McGee advocated setting aside old-world attitudes and hatreds for a fresh new nationality rooted in tolerance and respect. McGee would go on to become a member of the Great Coalition built at the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences and one of the Fathers of Confederation. He was assassinated in Ottawa in January, 1868, by a Fenian.

top of page

Also for Teachers
  • Elementary School Teachers
  • High School Teachers
  • Educational Video Sales
  • Videos in the Classroom

    Lesson Plans
    Episode 1
    When the World Began...
    Lesson 1 Canada's First Peoples
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 2 Stories of Creation
    Lesson 3 Cartier and Donnacona

    Episode 2
    Adventures and Mystics
    Lesson 4 The Beginning of the Fur Trade
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 5 The Jesuits and the Huron
    Lesson 6 Immigration to New France

    Episode 3
    Claiming the Wilderness
    Lesson 7 Expansion to the Gulf of Mexico
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 8 The Expulsion of the Acadians

    Episode 4
    Battle for a Continent
    Lesson 9 Before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 10 The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 11 The Quebec Act
    (includes activity)

    Episode 5
    A Question of Loyalties
    Lesson 12 Conflict in Quebec, 1775
    Lesson 13 United Empire Loyalists
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 14 Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh

    Episode 6
    The Pathfinders
    Lesson 15 The Fur Trade in Canada
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 16 The Selkirk Settlers
    Lesson 17 The Gold Rush

    Episode 7
    Rebellion and Reform
    Lesson 18 The Rebellions of 1837
    Lesson 19 Union of the Canadas
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 20 A Land of Hope

    Episode 8
    The Great Enterprise
    Lesson 21 Newcomers to Canada
    Lesson 22 The Making of Confederation
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 23 Confederation in the Maritimes

    Episode 9
    From Sea to Sea
    Lesson 24 The Red River Resistance
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 25 The Pacific Scandal

    Episode 10
    Taking the West
    Lesson 26 The North-West Rebellion
    Lesson 27 The Trial of Louis Riel
    Lesson 28 Macdonald's National Dream

    history home | explore the episodes | biographies | teacher resources | bibliography | games and puzzles | sitemap | contact us
    cbc home | tv episode summaries | merchandise | press releases | behind the scenes | audio/video

    copyright � 2001 CBC