Immigration Act (Canada) (1919)


In the wake of World War I (1914–18; see World War I and immigration) and the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and in the midst of an economic depression, the Canadian government amended its Immigration Act of 1910 to protect against subversive activities and to limit the entry of those who might become involved in them. The revisions were supported by the business community, which had previously supported a more liberal policy. According to the president of the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association, while Canada had millions of “vacant acres” that needed population, “it is wiser to go slowly and secure the right sort of citizens.”
Under Section 3 of the new Immigration Act, an orderin- council excluded entry of emigrants from countries that had fought against Canada during the war. The list of inadmissible immigrants was also expanded to include alcoholics, those of “psychopathic inferiority,” mental “defectives,” illiterates, those guilty of espionage, and those who believed in the forcible overthrow of the government or who “disbelieved” in government at all. At the same time, revisions made it easier to deport immigrants. If it could be shown that an immigrant fell into an inadmissible class upon arrival in Canada, he or she was no longer safe from deportation after five years. Furthermore, the cabinet was authorized to prohibit entry to members of any race, class, or nationality because of contemporary economic conditions or because they were not likely to be assimilable because of “peculiar habits, modes of life and methods of holding property,” a provision invoked against the entry of Hutterites (see Hutterite immigration), Mennonites (see Mennonite immigration), and Doukhobors. Additionally, in 1921, adult immigrants were required to have $250 upon landing, and children, $125. Farm laborers and domestic workers with previous job arrangements were exempted from the landing fees. In 1923, immigration was restricted to agriculturalists, farm laborers, and domestic servants only.

A–Z index