Immigrants to Canada

UWInfo | Young Immigrants | Genealogy | Local History | 19th Century Immigration

Emigration Societies

Emigration Societies were formed in various parts of the United Kingdom to assist those wishing to emigrate to the colonies. Some societies were formed by guilds, helping their own to make the move. Others were formed by charitable organizations, assisting the poor or those out of work. There were societies formed by various religions and there were others formed to assist child migrants.

The following Emigration Societies are documented in the Sessional Papers of the Government of Canada, 34 Victoria (64) 1871.

Bristol Emigration Club

(mentioned but no information given)

British and Colonial Emigration Fund

The "British and Colonial Emigration Fund,"presided over by the Lord Mayor, and managed by a highly influential Committee, assisted, between the months of April and August last, 5,082 persons to come to Canada; and it has since published favorable accounts of the welfare of these emigrants.

"The sum of 1841 16s. 11d. sterling, equal to $8,963.60 was remitted out to me by the British and Colonial Emigration Fund..., for the use of the people sent out by them, which was paid to them on arrival."

Clerkenwell Emigration Society

The Clerkenwell Emigration Society, originally organized through the indefatigable exertions of the Rev. A. Styleman Herring, Incumbent of St. Pauls, and his curate, the Rev. Mr. Hitchman, proposed in the early stages of its existence, to make requisition for a grant of land in the Province of Ontario, on which to form a Colony to be named "New Clerkenwell," in memory of their old homes.-Each member was required to make weekly subscription to the extent of his means, and the fund thus raised, they hope to augment by an appeal to the public.-I would here mention, to show the diversity of occupation in a crowded London parish, that the first list of subscribers actually represented eighty-four different branches of trade. The families generally appeared to be of a respectable, thrifty class, who were likely to prove an acquisition to Canada. I supplied them with all the information in my power for their guidance generally; but strongly objected to the colonization part of their scheme-pointing out many of the great hardships they would have to endure even supposing, which was not probable, that the public would furnish adequate means for the establishment of the proposed settlement; and eventually this proposition was abandoned. The total number of persons sent to Canada during the year by this Society, was 638 souls, and the reports of their progress in their new home, have been so generally satisfactory, that the Rev. Mr. Herring has reorganized the Society under the name of the "Royal Canadian Emigration Club," consisting already of 427 souls; their motto is "piety, sobriety, industry," to help those that help themselves. The Marquis of Northampton and other gentlemen of influence, are patrons of the undertaking, and the energy and perseverance of the Rev. Mr. Herring, have made him a valuable auxiliary in the promotion of Canadian emigration.

East London Emigration Fund

The "East London Emigration Fund," owes its success chiefly to the exertions fo the Hon. Frederick and Wm. Hobart, the Countesses of Ducie, de Grey and Denbigh, and other ladies of distinction, while the management falls chiefly on the Hon. Mrs. Hobart. The total number shipped by the Committee was 1035 souls, forty-eight of which did not belong to the East of London, and were specially provided for by persons interested in them.

Since their arrival in Canada excellent accounts have been received from all the emigrants, not one of whom has expressed a regret at having left England; and even when difficulties have arisen, such as must naturally be expected from persons settling in a new country, there is a tone of hopefulness in their letters, which show the writers had no doubt of their ultimate success. These emigrants were selected without distinction of creed, by the clergy and others personally acquainted with them, and consisted of persons of good character, ready and willing to work, but who could not find employment in this country to enable them to support their families. They came principally from the districts of Poplar, Bow, Isle of Dogs, Limehouse, Stepney, Mile End, Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Clerkenwell, Shadwell, St. George's East, and Spitalfields. Before leaving London they were invited to tea, for the purpose of explaining to them the final arrangements made for their departure to and reception in Canada, each head of a family being called upon to sign a paper promising to pay the amount advanced for this passage and outfit, as soon as he should be able to do so.

Family Emigration Fund

The "Family Emigration from the East End of London" Committee, of which the Hon. Mrs. Hobart is Treasurer, assisted to this country 974 persons, by the Allan steamships, between the months of April and September, 1870. From letters received in London they appear to have done well; and Mrs. Hobart is again asking subscriptions to continue her benevolent operations in 1871.

The sum of "388 5s. sterling, equal to $1,889.19,...was remitted out to me...by the Hon. Mrs. Hobart's Committee, for the use of the people sent out by them, which was paid to them on arrival."

Kelsall's Emigration Charity

(mentioned but no information given)

National Emigration Aid Society

"The National Emigration Aid Society," was composed of a considerable number of influential gentlemen, presided over by His Grace the Duke of Manchester, whose object was to urge upon the Home Government the consideration of a National Emigration Policy in co-operation with the Government of the Colonies; to promote emigration from those districts of the Metropolis and Provinces where distress abounds, through want of employment; to assist persons and families desirous of emigrating with advances, whenever the funds of the society permit, towards their passage, outfit, &c., &c. With these views, agitation of the public mind was vigorously commenced. Public meetings were held in London and the provincial towns, and a deputation waited on the Right Honorables the Secretaries of State for the Home Department and the Colonies, which, however, failed to convince those officials of the propriety of their demands. During the season, one hundred and twenty-five souls wee shipped to Canada in connection with this Society. In order to strengthen its position in a renewed agitation to secure State aid, the Committee deemed it advisable to unite with the Working Men's Emigration Society which is composed chiefly of persons connected with trades-unions, a combination said to represent upwards of 800,000 souls; the united societies adopting the name of the "National Emigration League."

National Emigration League

The National Emigration League was formed by the Union of the "National Emigration Aid" and the "Workman's Emigration Society" a Committee being composed of the following gentlemen, under the Presidency of His Grace the Duke of Manchester.

The Revd. J. Aston,

Mr. E. Bowring, M.P.,
Mr. Thos. Brassey, sen.,
Mr. Henry Brassey, M.P.,
Mr. T. Chambers, M.P.,
Mr. W. Charley, M.P.,
Colonel Clarke, R.E.,
Sir D. Cooper, Bart.,
Sir W. Dennison, K.C.B.,
Mr. Eastwick, M.P.,
Hon. C. Fitzwilliam, M.P.,
Mr. Fowler, M.P.,
Sir George Grey, K.C.B.,
Mr. Wm. Gladston, M.P.,
Lord G. Hamilton, M.P.,
Mr. W.T.M. Torrens, M.P.,
Sir D. Wolf, K.C.M.G.,

Sir J. Bowring, F.R.S.,
Mr. J. Holms, M.P.,
Sir J.C. Lawrence, Bart.,
Mr. Alderman Lusk, M.P.,
Sir F. Lycett,
Mr. Chas. McGarell,
Mr. Wm. McArthur, M.P.,
Mr. H. Marsh,
Col. Maude, C.B., V.C.,
Mr. S. Morley, M.P.,
Sir C. Nicholson, Bart.,
Mr. Chas. Reed, M.P.,
Revd. W. Rogers,
Dr. Richardson, F.R.S.,
Mr. R.R. Torrens, M.P.,
Mr. E. Wilson,
Mr. Edward Jenkins,
Sir E. Halse, Bart.

Hon. Secretary:
Mr. E. Jenkins

The objects of the League were:--

Active measures were immediately taken to place the subject of emigration before the authorities and the public, as a proposed means of relief for the suffering caused by a redundant population and a partial stagnation in trade; important public meetings being held not only in the Metropolis, but in many of the great Provincial Towns.

On the 3rd of February an influential deputation waited upon the Prime Minister to present the following Memorial to the Government, respectfully submitting that:

"1st. There is a great and increasing depression in the condition of the industrial and other classes of this Country.

"2nd. This depression is chiefly due to, and is yearly intensified by, the numbers of the population for whom the field of employment is insufficient.

"3rd. The number of capable persons for whom no work is to be found in this Country is not the only evil observable in the circumstances of the industrial and other classes. The number of persons actually employed in work throughout the United Kingdom is an excess of the numbers necessary, in proper circumstances, to execute it.

"4th. The population of the United Kingdom is increasing at the rate of 240,000 per annum beyond the usual rate of emigration, and, apart from the other considerations offered by your Memorialists[sic], it appears to them to be incumbent on the Government to use some means for preventing the inevitable aggravation by this increase of social conditions already charged with peril.

"5th. Without depreciating other remedies for the evil above mentioned, Your Memorialists strongly urge the necessity of supplementing those remedies by a large and comprehensive system of emigration under the auspices of the Government.

"6th. There are two branches of this question, both of which Your Memorialists beg to press upon your notice. The First concerns such immediate relief to existing distress as would remove persons now suffering for want of work, to colonies where there are present openings for employment. Such openings Your Memorialists are informed exist in Canada and in some other of the Colonies, and they implore on behalf of the sufferers some instant action of the Government in their favor, more especially as the noble efforts of a large private benevolence during two years have only diminished the surplus to the number of a few thousands, an extent almost inappreciable. The Second Branch relates to measures for the purpose of fostering the development of the Agriculture and other resources of the Colonies, with the consequent reflex benefit to trade and general prosperity at home and throughout the Empire.

"7th. While urging upon the Government the necessity of affording immediate help to supply competition for work to deficient labor markets in the Colonies, Your Memorialists earnestly direct your attention to this second and larger question. They suggest that nothing would so steadily conduce to the relief of the people, and the future extension of trade and manufactures in this country, to Colonial progress and to a closer union of the Empire, as an extensive settlement of unemployed labor on uncultivated lands.

"8th. Such a settlement assisted by Government and conducted in concert with the Colonial Executives would not be open to the objection that the burden of "paupers" or persons without resources was being transferred to the Colonies, would enable them to receive a larger number of emigrants, would for the present more equally, naturally and successfully relieve the existing pressure in the labor market of the British Islands, and would also have the effect of constantly enlarging the field for profitable employment.

"9th. Your Memorialists can produce evidence to show that there is a reasonable prospect of a full return with interest from the settlers, should the Government see fit to inaugurate a system of help to emigrants, for land settlement by loans, and that thus an emigration might be carried on without ultimate expense to the nation. They also call your attention tot he fact that a system of loans would meet the objection, that persons would avail themselves of Imperial assistance who had means of their own, since it would be the obvious interest of all such persons, as soon as possible, to relieve themselves and their allotment of land from obligation. Precedents for the action of the Government in assistance to classes of Her Majesty's subjects exist in the loans for drainage and improvement of waste lands in England and Ireland, loans for piers and harbors, for railways in India, the grant during the Irish famine, and the assistance given to emigration from India to Burmah.

"10th. It cannot be necessary for Your Memorialists to remind the Government that one of the greatest benefits which would be conferred upon the people of those realms would be found in a large increase in the raw materials which form the great staples of our industry and food supply. It is evident that their production is capable of almost infinite extension in the colonies and possessions of this Empire, and that all that is required to ensure that production is the settlement of labor on land.

"11th. Your Memorialists are deeply impressed with the belief that fresh economical social, moral and commercial advantages can be promoted by a well organized and comprehensive distribution of the surplus labor of these Islands upon the waste lands of the British Empire. Moreover, as regards the integrity of that Empire, to which no Government can be indifferent, they specially urge that a large emigration guided, by the hand of Government, would help to bind more closely to the Empire the Colonies to which it was directed, and would secure for this nation the lasting gratitude and loyalty, not only of the individuals immediately benefited[sic], but also of the colonies to which they were sent."

In presenting the Deputation to Mr. Gladstone, His Grace the Duke of Manchester, in the course of a very able speech stated, that before the colonies could be over crowded they must have a population many times beyond what they have now, that the inhabitants of the colonies consume English manufactures at the rate of 6 per head, while others consume them at the rate only of a few shillings per head; that emigration would be putting people, who are now almost paupers, into a position where they would consume a large amount of the manufactures of the Mother Company, he thought it also a Christian duty as well as a political advantage to the country to establish an emigration movement in the present state of affairs. After remarks by other gentlemen, Mr. Gladstone stated, that the proposal would receive that respectful attention of his colleagues; and the deputation withdrew.

Subsequently an animated discussion arose in the House of Commons on the propriety of assisting with public money an emigration of the unemployed to the colonies. The motion was strongly opposed by the Government; and was thrown out upon a division by a considerable majority.

By various means the National Emigration League has assisted about 300 persons to emigrate to Canada this year.

In the early part of the season the Government having determined to send transports to Canada for the removal of troops, the Lords of the Admiralty following up the arrangements adopted last year, allowed the use of them for the conveyance to Quebec of discharged operatives from the Dockyards and others on condition that the expenses of provisions, &c., should be provided from other sources. The numbers thus conveyed to Canada, were, in H.M.S. Tamar 462 souls, and in the Crocodile 928 souls; the latter including 22 pensioners and their families.

The amount required to cover the expenses of provisions, landing money, &c., was 2 per statuete[sic] adult, which was provided either by the people themselves, or by contributions from charitable associations. A large number of these people were from the vicinity of Deptford, and the vessels sailed with them from Portsmouth on the 1st and 8th of June.

Revival Refuge Fund

"The Revival Refuge Fund" collected and managed by the Misses Macpherson and Logan, ladies well known in the East of London for their efforts to ameliorate the condition of the poor, sent out upwards of 450 souls, but subsequently merged their society into that of the Family Emigration Fund. They supplied their emigrants with warm clothing, and remitted a considerable sum of money to the Agent at Quebec for their use on landing. Miss Macpherson contemplates shipping a number of stout London lads between the ages of thirteen and seventeen years, next season, whom she is now training in habits of industry in preparation for the new life that is dawning on them.

Royal Canadian Emigration Club

(see Clerkenwell)

Working Men's National Emigration Association

"The Working Men's National Emigration Association" is an offshoot from the Working Men's Emigration Society, and consists of nine clubs, which have been formed after considerable negotiation. Permission was granted, to make use of for this purpose the magnificent transports "Crocodile," "Serapis" and "Simoom," on condition that the Government should not incur the expenses of outfit, and provisions for the voyage, amounting to about 45s for each statute adult. The Society shipped in this way 386 souls in the "Crocodile," 706 in the "Serapis," and 601 in the "Simoom." In consequence of the short time elapsing between the decision of the Lords of the Admiralty and the sailing of the vessels, it was impossible to make so careful a selection of emigrants, with regard to the adaptability to a Canadian life, as might have been desirable. I however, visited Portsmouth twice in the interval, and at the request of Sir James Elphinstone, M.P., for the borough, held meetings, at which I addressed the men on the various subjects on which they required information. Mr. Galt, the Mayor of Portsmouth, was indefatigable in his exertions for the benefit of these people and gave me every assistance in his power, accompanying me to the Port Admiral, Sir James Hope, who also gave much attention to the minutest details, and evinced a warm regard for Canadian interests by desiring to send out, only those men who would be likely to prove valuable members of society. His Excellency ordered a number of the leading dockyard men to be assembled at the house of one of the officials, that I might address them and answer any questions they might desire to ask.

Lord John Hay, at the Admiralty, and the Emigration Commissioners, Mr. Walcott and Mr. Murdoch, gave me much assistance in the promotion of our welfare in this matter. It will not be necessary that I should enter further into the detailed working of these numerous Committees; my intercourse with them has been invariably satisfactory and every disposition has been shown to meet my solicitations and follow my advice personally attended many of the selection Committees, where the antecedents of the emigrants were closely scrutinized, and although some have been sent who have proved dissolute and troublesome, it is not more than might reasonably be expected, considering the numbers sent out, and the entire absence of printed information which would have enabled the gentlemen engaged in the work, to form more correct notions of the wants of the Canadian labor market.


UWInfo | Young Immigrants | Genealogy | Local History | 19th Century Immigration

© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1997-2007
Last updated: February 15, 2007 and maintained by Marj Kohli