Confederation Day

  • July 1, 1867 – Canada first became a nation – BNA Act
  • 4 British colonies joined to form the new Dominion of Canada
  • Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia & New Brunswick (population = 3 million)
  • John A. McDonald sworn in as Canada’s first prime minister

The Twentieth Century (1900-1913)

  • Some colonies rejected confederation –            i.e. Newfoundland (1949) & PEI (1912)
  • 1867 – Strong provincial and regional differences in Canada
  • Challenge of uniting regions that have different needs, geographies, peoples and economies
  • Roots of regionalism (loyalty to a distinct region – i.e. Britain)

First Peoples, Early Settlement

  • Aboriginals were the first inhabitants of Canada
  • They lived as independent nations with their own governments, laws, traditions and culture
  • French settlers in the early 1600s
  • British (English, Scottish, Irish) settlers made up the majority of the population in the 1860s

The Twentieth Century (1900-1913)

  • By 1900, Canada stretch from Nova Scotia to British Columbia to the Arctic Ocean
  • Industries, cities, towns and farmlands in the west flourishing. It was said that the nineteenth century belonged to the U.S. as it had become a powerful nation and a land of opportunity for new immigrants
  • 1904 – Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier said, “the twentieth century belonged to Canada”

Immigration Boom

  • Between 1901-1911, Canada experienced the greatest wave of immigration in history
  • Immigration – movement of people into a country from another
  • Late 1800s – Canadian gov’t anxious to fill western territories (prairies) with settlers
  • By 1890, still not enough settlers in the west
  • 1896 – P.M. Wilfred Lauriers Liberal gov’t  – “open doorpolicy for immigrants
  • Transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway completed in 1885 – immigrants could ride the railways across the country to western prairies (free land offered; a fresh start)
  • Europe becoming more industrialized – people leaving farms to work in factories = European countries needed to buy food from Canada (wheat, flour)

Choosing Canada

  • Before 1901, most immigrants had come from Britain or the U.S.
  • After 1901, Canada launches massive ad campaign in Britain, U.S. and Europe – “Come to Canada!”
  • By 1890, American West was already taken up – Canada became “the last, best West!
  • Immigration from around the world = seeds of ethnic diversity in Canada


  • Immigrants helped Canada’s growing workforce
  • In the West – Agricultural Boom – prosperous farms
  • In the cities – immigrants worked in factories and construction
  • In 1911 – 80% of the people in the West were born outside Canada
  • Immigrants played important role in Canada’s economic prosperity & the development of the country

Discriminatory Policy

  • British, European and American immigrants welcome, other groups were not
  • Canada’s immigration policy in the early 1900s was discriminatory – Blacks, Italians, Asians, Arabs, Greeks, and Jews were not welcome
  • Thought they would not make good farmers and would not easily assimilate (become absorbed into Canadian society)
  • Believed immigrants should abandon their cultural traditions and conform to values of English-Canadian society
  • In 1880s, many Chinese came to Canada to work on the Canadian pacific Railway – once the railway was complete, government discouraged Chinese immigrants
  • Chinese immigrants required to pay a head tax – $50 in 1885 -> $100 in 1900 –> $500 in 1903
  • 1914 – 5000 Sikhs on board a steamer ship called Komagata Maru – rejected from entering Vancouver
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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