HL Deb 25 July 1902 vol 111 cc1256-7

My Lords, I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any information as to the reported immigration of farmers from the United States, into the Dominion of Canada. It may be in the knowledge of some of your Lordships that there has lately been a very considerable immigration of settlers from the United States into Canada. Last year I understand that the total number was very nearly 50,000; this year the number of immigrants has been estimated at the almost startling figure of 200,000. It is said that these settlers come from the farming classes of the United States, and that they are attracted to Canada by the cheapness of the land in the Dominion compared with the price of the land in the United States. I have also heard it stated that Minnesota farmers have been able to sell their holdings at from £8 to,£10 an acre, and to purchase land in the wheat-supplying districts of Canada at the low price of £1 to £2 per acre; so that these men are able to pay off mortgages on their land in the United States, and buy considerably larger farms in the Dominion free of debt. It is further said that syndicates have been established in Canada and in America for the purpose of purchasing large tracts of land and to sell them to intending settlers. One of these land agencies—I think it was at Toronto—which had acquired over one million acres of land, is reported to have been selling this land to the settlers from the United States at the rate of something like 23,000 acres a day. I have no official information or statistics on the subject; that is the reason why I have put the question to the noble Earl. I think your Lordships will admit that, if the figures I have quoted are true, or even approximately true, they represent a very remarkable state of things. I approach this subject in no hostile spirit. If this large influx of fanners and agriculturists into the Dominion is going to be for the permanent benefit of Canada, we all, I am sure, welcome it. But I think your Lordships will see that if the facts are as I have stated, this immigration, if it increases at anything like the same ratio, will have a very far-reaching effect, not only on the Dominion of Canada, but also on this country and the wheat supply of the world. This is a question of very great importance to us in this country, who are necessarily large importers of corn. I hope the noble Earl will give the House and the country any information lie may have on this by no means unimportant subject.


My Lords, I have not the statistics of the immigration from the United States into Canada for the present year. There can be no doubt, however, that the fertile lands in the western part of the Dominion are being taken up with unexampled rapidity, not only by immigrants from the United States but also by immigrants from Europe and this country, and the rapid development which is taking place in the north-western province of Canada bids fair to make the wheat fields in that country the most prominent factor in the wheat supply of the world. The figures quoted by the noble Lord were somewhat startling, but I do not think that the immigration is quite so large as he represents it to be. I am informed that since 1896, which was practically the first year of immigration from the United States, the figures were:— 1897, 712; 1898, 9,119; 1899, 11,900; 1900, 15,500; 1901, 17,897; arid up to the most recent date in 1902 the number was 24,100. Those are progressive figures showing a very large increase.


I was careful to say that I was not responsible for the figures, which were quoted from the English and American Press.


Can the noble Lord give the corresponding figures of Canadian immigration to the United States?


No, I cannot.