Canada became a nation in 1867 and like all new countries faced several important challenges. Wilfrid Laurier became Prime Minister in 1896 and stayed in office until 1911, so he had to take responsibility for many of those challenges.

Demographics:

In 1900, Canada was mostly a rural society. People worked as

  • farmers, fishers, loggers, fur trappers.

Cities were growing:

  • Immigrants settled mostly in cities
  • New jobs in manufacturing lured people away from rural areas

City Life:

  • Rich: leisure, comfortable, big homes, could spend time doing things they liked
  • Poor: barely made enough to live, homes were shabby, in poor neighbourhoods, poor conditions, worked very hard.

Immigration:

Laurier and his Minister of the Interior Clifford Sifton campaigned for more immigrants.

  • Offered free land in the West for settlement
  • Recruited immigrants from Europe, especially Northern Europe and Russia because they were used to cold, harsh conditions.
  • Also wanted Europeans because the Canadian government thought they would ASSIMILATE better than other immigrants.

Social Problems:

  • Workers had very few rights, poor pay, and worked in unsafe conditions
  • Women had very few rights, wanted to make alcohol illegal, and wanted right to vote.
  • Children had access to basic education, but many families needed children to work, so many children as young as 6 worked long, hard hours, with very little pay, and very unsafe conditions.

Political Problems:

Laurier had to deal with many political issues causing problems between Canada and the US:

  • Alaska Boundary Dispute

Between Canada and Britain

  • Alaska Boundary Dispute
  • Boer War
  • Naval Issue

Between Canadians, French and English

  • Boer War
  • Naval Issue

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