1. The early years of Immigration.
Immigration has played and continues to play a key role in shaping the character of Canadian society. Althoughonly a minority of Canadians has first-hand experience of immigration, all Canadians have parents, grandparents or more distant relative who came to Canada as strangers to a foreign land. Because allCanadians share an immigrant past, there would be no Canada without immigration.
Tens of thousands of years before the coming of the first European settlers, ancestors of Canada's Native Peoplemigrated across a frozen icepack linking Asia to North America. Over many centuries they spread across the continent, forming a rich tapestry of cultural and linguistic groupings. Approximately 500 yearsago, Europeans arrived in what would eventually become Canada. First came French colonists who carved out homes along the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries. Settlers followed them from France andBritain who gradually established competing colonial outposts in the Maritime Provinces. The 18th century victory of British arms at Quebec, followed by the British defeat in the American Revolution,sent Loyalists northward to British North America (Canada) in search of new homes.
During most of the next century and a half, immigration continued. Settlers came mainly from Britain, includingEnglish, Scots and Irish. While the majority of early immigrants coming to Canada was from the nationalities above-mentioned, other nationalities also came, including non-whites. Many immigrants fromcontinental Europe were drawn to Canada by its economic promise, or as an escape from religious or political threats. In the years before the American Civil War, the Europeans were joined by thousandsof black slaves who escaped by following the Underground Railway northward into Canada. After Canadian Confederation in 1867, thousands of Irish and Chinese labourers were imported as workers to...