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AfriGeneas Canada Research Forum

Re: Slavery in Canada
In Response To: Re: Slavery in Canada ()


The "Land Best West" was a program where the Canadian government tried to encourage whites from a variety of countries to immigrate to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba for free land grants. I pulled this from the following website (, which best explains what the whole program was about:

"Wheat sales were booming, a frenzy of railway building was in progress, and the long-hoped-for settlers were at last pouring in to 'the last, best west'. The Canadian government advertised free land in The Last Best West to farmers and farm workers in Britain, the United States and Europe. These were the only immigrants targeted by the government, apart from domestic servants. The Canadian Pacific Railway, and other rail and ocean transportation companies, helped promote government land in western Canada to would-be immigrants."

The only problem with "Land Best West" is that it attracted many undesireables, such as the Chinese (who were already living in the U.S. having been brought there to work on the railroads), blacks, Jews, Mennonites, Germans, Mormons and Japanese. So, the Canadian government found ways to try to discourage these unwanted groups from coming to claim their free land. The "Land Best West" ran from about 1881-1942, and though many of the black immigrants were far more financially qualified than their white counterparts, many blacks were systematically denied entry. Many did make it in, however, and many of those descendants still remain in these Western provinces.

The Oklahoma Historical Society has a good deal of information about this because many of these "unwanteds" came from Oklahoma. The Hudson Bay Company's Archives also have a great deal of info about this as well (

Discrimination in Western Canada is well documented. In the late 1800s, when lots of Mormons started arriving, an anti-Mormon press campaign ran.

Between 1881-1885, 15,000 Chinese arrived to work on the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR), but in 1885 a "head tax" was imposed on Chinese immigrants. In 1892, there were anti-Chinese riots and in 1903, the Chinese head tax was increased.

In 1909, a "gentleman's agreement" between Ottawa and Tokyo restricted Japanese immigration into Canada.

In 1910-11, Albertans protested against blacks planning to move there from Oklahoma. In 1911 an Order-in-Council banned black immigration for one year.

In 1916, there were anti-German riots.

In 1919, Hutterites were banned from immigrating to Canada (later rescinded in 1922)

In 1920, Calgarians petitioned the city to prevent blacks from moving into Victoria Park, though the petition was rejected.

Between 1923-47, Chinese immigration into Canada was virtually banned.

In 1925, the Ku Klux Klan established branches throughout Canada.

In 1935, the Anti-Semitic Social Credit Party came to power in Alberta.

In 1940, two Mennonite churches were burned.

In 1942, Canadians interned the Japanese (just like the U.S.).

In 1942, the Alberta Communal Property Act forbade land sales to Hutterite colonies (later repealed in 1972, 30 years later).

In 1960, Indigenous Canadians were FINALLY granted the right to vote in federal elections.

So, it would appear that the United States does not own the market on discrimination against all sorts of people. Canada has usually followed in lock step, right behind the U.S.

And this is just Western Canada. Discrimination against blacks and other groups in Eastern Canada was even worse.

I hope I've answered your questions, my dear.

- Lisa B. Lee
Oakland, CA

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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