Great Migration of Canada 1815-1850

Migrants from Europe, in particular Britain sailed into Quebec harbour

Anchorage at Quebec City 1832

Many people have a family history or family tree connection with Canada but sometimes don’t realise it, as it can be difficult to track those migrations. Some families even undertook a second migration to Australia or New Zealand, making the search even harder. The later your ancestors migrated the easier it will be to find them on shipping lists.

So what caused the ‘Great Migration’?

    • High unemployment at the end of the Napoleonic Wars as a result of soldiers seeking work
    • The Industrial Revolution and mechanisation resulting in fewer jobs
    • Decline of mining in south west England as reserves were depleted
    • Corn laws, making it hard to subsist
    • Poor harvests, especially of potatoes leading to famine
What happened next?
    • Over 400,000 British people settled in Canada
    • Many were enticed with the offer of cheap or free land, this upset those settled already
    • The British population outnumbered the French and spilled over into French territories causing problems
    • The problems between the French and English became ever more convoluted and political
    • There was an exodus to America called the Red River Exodus caused in part by problems with the Hudson Bay Fur Company
    • Some emigrated to Canada in 1837, exiled after political rebellion in their homeland
    • Some left for Australia during the 1850’s and 1860’s to follow the gold rush in Australia
The following You Tube link will give a real flavour of the politics in Canada during the 1830’s and puts into context the society that migrants were moving to

Intriguing Connections:
  1. Some migrating families were used to moving around and with cheap carriage on logging ships to be had, some travelled back home quite often, perhaps to escape the cold Canadian winters! Keeping track of their movements can be difficult, artefacts in the form of letters home or by way of introduction, military objects such as cap badges, can all pinpoint movements between census years. So they may have emigrated to Canada in the first instance but could turn up in Australia further down the line………..
For more background and useful information on Canadian family history and family trees, follow the links.
To explore further Canadian posts, artefacts and useful resources and sources then go to Intriguing Family History