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Banner: Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience

The Documentary TrailTraces of the PastFind an Immigrant
Free From Local Prejudice
A National Open-Door Policy
Filling the Promised Land
A Preferred Policy
A Depressing Period

Religious Refugees

by Matthew Wangler, research consultant

In 1870, three years after Confederation, the Canadian government formally acquired the massive territory known as Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company. Eager to open up new resources and markets and wary of American expansion into the North, the government sought to integrate the vast expanses of western Canada into its national life through the construction of a transcontinental railway and the promotion of settlement. Unable to attract substantial immigration from Britain and other "preferred" sources, the fledgling Dominion appealed to other cultural groups to settle on the Prairies. Among these groups were several religious communities seeking arable lands for agricultural settlement and the freedom to practise their religion.

These groups included Doukhobors and Mennonites from Russia and Mormons from the United States. The impact of government decrees and public opinion would profoundly shape each community's vision of their future in Canada.

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