February 10, 1909 (11th Parliament, 1st Session)


Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET (L'Islet) asked:

For a copy of all correspondence, reports and documents between the Department of the Interior and the immigration agents in the United States; and between the Department of the Interior and the colonization societies since the 1st of January, 1908.
He said : Mr. Speaker, I ask for a copy of correspondence between the Minister of the Interior and the colonization societies, between the Minister of the Interior and the immigration agents in the United States ; in order to study the work of repatriation.
The solution of this social problem is the most important in the interest of the Canadian people ; I recognize the value of the work done in the past. I do not desire to raise a tablet to the methods adopted, and on the ruins erect new systems. We must preserve such things that meet our requirements, social and economic, but at the same time, improve and consolidate them and bring them to perfection. Our object is to quicken the work of repatriating the Canadian descendants of the races that civilized France and the British isles. In this work, too complete and too imperfect, I desire especially to study the repatriation of the French Canadians.
In the days of the French administration, we see our ancestors already on the shores of lake Champlain, in the plains of the west and on the banks of the Mississippi.
The French missionaries and discoverers left the St. Lawrence valley and overran the American territories, implanting Christian civilization as they went. They did so to discover new lands in the interests of France, of civilization and of religion. Successive generations of Canadian birth ploughed the English colonies of our continent.
With respect to the causes that have influenced the immigration of our people Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
to. the United States, permit me to cite our historian, Mr. DeCelles. ' A law of the English parliament allowed a colonial minister and the Canadian government to dispose of the vacant lands of a province to their favourites at a nominal price. At times the Government made use of its powers over the public domains to coin mopey and increase the revenues. Mr. Rouillard, in his work, ' The Province of Quebec' said, 'Already, long before the distribution made to the loyalists, the colonial executive had commenced to grant great stretches of the public domain still remaining in an uncultivated state to monopolists without compelling them to make settlements under penalty of confiscation for failure to do so. Thus the British American Land Company received for its share 600,000 acres. From 1773 to 1811, more than three million acres of public lands were distributed among 200 favourites, of whom some had as much as 60.000 to 80,000 acres each. The Governor, Mr. Milnes, took for his part,
70,000 acres.
From that time the monopolists had but one object in view, namely, to wait for the increased value of their lands and watch for speculative developments. In this way, the Domains, debarred from cultivation and preserved in a wild state, served as a barrier, preventing the settlers from penetrating further into the interior of the country. It was no rare spectacle to see the agents of the public lands seeking, in the face of the colonizing movement everywhere, presenting itself, to oppose it under the pretense that the timber trade outweighed the interests of colonization. Hence, great was the number of the French Canadians who took the route for the United States.
The English bureaucrats, from 1760 to 1848, by informal persecution, by exile, by the scaffold, by plundering laws, by the confiscation of patriots' belonging, prevented clearings, paralyzed commerce and industry, and restricted to the narrowest proportions the developments of the French population, and thus opened the way to the disastrous emigration of the French Canadians to the United States. French Canadians were found in the armies of Washington.
After the troubles of 1837, a more extensive emigration took place towards New England. These families fled before fire, iron and proscription. As one orator said: ' Honour and gratitude to the magnanimous Mai tin Van Buren, the president of the American nation, who offered to our unhappy exiles land, employment, and the protection of a generous people.'
From 1760 to 1848, the Anglo-Saxon bureaucracy showed no intention to favour colonization in the province of Quebec for the advantage of a race that it wished to humiliate, to denationalize and perhaps to destroy.

As regards the French Canadians, it was an era of ostracism. Instead of encouraging French colonization, the Government disposed of the crown lands in favour of speculators.
From 1845 to 1849, 20,000 French Canadians quitted their native soil.
From 1848 to 1854, these figures rose to
From 1840 to 1848, the Canadian parliament voted $300,000 to promote the settlement of Lower Canada. The same' parliament supremely unjust with regard to our province, voted two millions at the same time for colonization roads in Upper Canada.
No doubt improvidence and extravagance led some families to the United States, to become the servants, if not the slaves of American capitalists. But a great number of our compatriots owe their abandonment of their country to the persecutions of the English bureaucrats, and the indifference of governments that exhausted them in unhappy struggles when they should have united their forces and created a national industry.
To cite the Rev. Father Hamon: ' The
emigration en masse only began after the civil war in 1860. Then the industries of the east witnessed a prodigious development. They devoted themselves to the construction of manufactures, and the Canadians came in great numbers looking for work. The flood of emigration overcame all obstacles, swept over all the dams, and, animated with resistless force, invaded the towns and villages of New England. In a few years, thousands and thousands of the cultivators of the soil had exchanged a rural existence for the lives of workmen in the immense manufactures of the United States. The labour of these vast works is to a large extent in their hands.'
This great Canadian emigration to the United States dates form the close of the civil war. Then arose in all directions those varied industries that soon covered the eastern states with gigantic manufacturing establishments, and the French Canadians in great numbers went there in pursuit of easier conditions in industrial pursuits.
The expatriated French Canadians have worked, without counting the days, without measuring the effusion of their sweats, for the glorification of their race and of their Gospel. The Franco-Americans, to the number of 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 are accomplishing a splendid work on the soil of the United States. They have known the proofs required from strangers; but did not at that time ask from the national societies the cohesion indispensable to assert their imperishable rights and save their ancestral traditions from shipwreck.
Without deserting the flag of their nationality they have never betrayed that of the new country. They know how to prove their loyalty to the institutions of the Republic while still remaining attached to their faith, their language and their customs. Our compatriots are with energy making the conquest of a large place in the politics, the commerce and the industry of their new country. In the annals of the great Republic, the French Canadians rave with pages alike original and illustrious. On November 8, 1908, they effected a remarkable achievement: our compatriot, the Honourable A. Pothier, was elected Governor of Rhode Island. As a journalist writes: ' It is the natural crowning of a work accomplished by persistence, and for years, for the advancement of his fellow-citizens, and for the prosperity and good name of his State.
The expatriated French Canadians display the strength, tenacity, courage and heroism of the French race. They struggle against the assimilation of their race and elaborate the future in preserving the language of their ancestors and remaining faithful to the flag of that virile and generous democracy that astonishes the world with the boldness of its conceptions and its triumphs in all the spheres of human activity.
It would be unpardonable treason, undignified abdication, real national suicide not to make every effort to bring back to Canadian soil such a generous population.
As far back as 1848 the bishops of lower Canada exhorted the clergy and the people to do all in their power with a view of favouring the settler and of improving his social condition. Bishop Turgeon said:
' Let all French Canadians contribute according to their means and without delay to the work of colonization, and every difficulty will disappear.' The bisho ' deplores the departure of so many excellent Canadian families who are casting their lot in a foreign land far from the alters of their youth and their native land. Patriotic suffering is perhaps the most bitter of all moral sorrows. In the face of this alarming emigration of - our compatriots, Lafon-taine, together with the civil, religious and political authorities, worked strenuously in favour of the expansion of the Frenchspeaking population on Canadian soil.
Colonization and repatriation societies were at that time founded to promote the interests of agriculture and of repatriation. In Lower Canada these colonization and repatriation societies were generously endowed.
It is imnossible to think without emotion of those thousands of Canadians toiling in the factories of a foreign land. Their labour, energy, talent and patriotism enrich the ajoining republic to the detriment of Canada.

Our countrymen, no doubt, play a noble part in the United States, where they have bean attracted by an extraordinary era of commercial and industrial prosperity; they are becoming there the representative of French civilization. But in order to fulfil our mission on Canadian soil, and if we would save the prestige and preserve the influence of that ancient race who civilized our land, it is necessary that the French Canadian family should sustain no loss.

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