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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

Sell, Sell, Sell

by Jeffrey S. Murray, Library and Archives Canada

By the mid-1890s, Canada realized it had a problem. Immigration to the Prairies had been a dismal failure. In 1881, census-takers counted some 10,000 farms in Canada's great Northwest Territories. Ten years later, this number had expanded to only 31,000. If settlement was allowed to continue at such a rate, it would take more than half a century to fill the 1.25 million homesteads that surveyors had carved out of the prairie.

For the newly appointed Minister of the Interior, Clifford Sifton, the solution to making Canada a destination for immigrants was obvious. Canada had to create a new image for itself -- one that was better suited to national objectives -- and it would have to trumpet this new image through an advertising campaign, the likes of which the world had never seen. Sifton figured immigration should be like any other commodity. "Just as soon as you stop advertising," he warned the House of Commons in 1899, "the movement is going to stop."

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