White Star-Dominion Line: emigration booklet

It’s 1924, the Icelanders who arrived in 1875, have now been in Manitoba for 49 years. In1906, the railway has come to Gimli. WWI has been over for six years. The boom in demand for agricultural products from Iceland for the war effort in Europe is long over. The resulting hardship isn’t enough to restart the exodus to Amerika.

However, conditions in a stratified society like England’s are still difficult for working class people. Lack of economic opportunity in Europe, political and religious persecution, rigidsocial structures, overpopulation, all make Europe a place of opportunity for shipping lines, railway lines, hotels, immigrant agents, land dealers and the government of Canada.

The people who saw the vast numbers of people who wanted to leave Europe as an opportunity to make a lot of money, legally and illegally, were determined to attract as many customers as possible. If you’ve got steamships and Europe has potential passengers, you’ll do whatever you can to convince people they should emigrate.

The White Star-Dominion Line’s booklet for emigrants has this to say:

“For

INTENDING EMIGRANTS

ADVANTAGES OF EMIGRATION

There is no subject connected with the happiness and well-being of all classes of our over-crowded population of such interest as the all-important subject of EMIGRATION. The serious attention of statesmen, philanthropists, and political economists has long been directed towards the most effectual means of relieving the pressure of a population increasing at the rate of at least 400,000 per annum. Whilst the difficulty of making a living in England is increasing every year, and the public press is teeming with letters from successful emigrants, writing from the land of their adoption, to urge their fellow countrymen, toiling in the over-crowded cities and unproductive agricultural districts of England to follow their example and go to Canada, the Greater Britain on the other side of the Atlantic, it is now generally admitted that the only practical remedy for poverty, want of employment, and the many evils of an over-crowded country, is EMIGRATION.”

That’s a hard-edged sale’s pitch. England is over-crowded according to the steamship line hustlers, everyone agrees that emigration is the answer, the newspapers don’t just have a few letters to the editor about life in Canada. The newspapers are “teeming” with letters from successful emigrants. No letters, apparently, about the hardships, the disillusionment, the failure. Those successful emigrants are writing not just to the general public but to fellow countrymen who are toiling in cities that are over-crowded and in agricultural districts in England that are unproductive. If that terrible picture of life in England and that rosy picture of life in Canada wasn’t enough to move you to rush out to buy a steamship ticket, the writer assures the reader that moving to Canada isn’t really such a big change. After all, Canada is no more, no less, than the Greater Britain on the other side of the Atlantic. When you emigrate, it will be just like being at home.

People believed the letters in the papers, the advertising, the promotional materials. They did sell their houses, give up their rooms, sell off their belongings, seek out the local agent of the Steamship line and buy a ticket.

All the letters sent back to England about the hardships in Canada are ignored. In Barry Broadfoot’s The Pioneer Years what comes out time and again is how completely unprepared people were for life on the Canadian prairies. In one reminiscence, the speaker says, “I landed at Quebec July1, with my five pounds, which is what the Canadian government said you had to have to land in their country. My ticket said Humboldt, Saskatchewan.” The speaker misses his train stop and goes two stops too far. He is so naïve that he wants to know if he can get a bus or a tram to take him back to Humbolt. He has to walk.

In “No More Farming for Us” the speaker says that they’d left a good home in England. They’d left a cottage style house with 11 rooms and found themselves on the “bald prairie south of Battleford.” They manage to build a shack of 14 x 20 feet. When it is finished, they are having a picnic when the house catches fire. They save nothing. They move to the nearest town and the father gets a job.

One pioneer says about the CPR booklets extolling emigration. “You couldn’t walk down the street in Glasgow without somebody handing you a pamphlet or a booklet about the glorious west. I expect it was the same in every big city in Britain….What did people in Glasgow know about farming.”

In “Oatmeal, Tea, and Rabbits” the speaker says, “The first winter I don’t know how we did it. All we h ad to live on was oatmeal and tea and rabbits. Oatmeal without milk. Tea without sugar.”

It doesn’t matter, of course, to the railway, the steamship companies, the immigration agents, the hotel owners, the suppliers of equipment. They’ve got the money for their services and goods. IF people survive, they’ll become customers shipping goods or receiving goods on the railway. They’ll be customers, each little family a source of profit and it will all add up to many fortunes for the few.

There is, after all, collateral damage, when it comes to making a fortune. Lives ruined, lonely graves, but the great experiment did work. Just like soldiers are cannon fodder in war time and quickly forgotten when the war is over, the emigrants were cannon fodder for the making of fortunes. However, few went back because as hard as life was on the Canadian prairies, it was still better than what they had left.

It’s 1924, the Icelanders who arrived in 1875, have now been in Manitoba for 49 years. In 1906, the railway has come to Gimli. WWI has been over for six years. The boom in demand for agricultural products from Iceland for the war effort in Europe is long over. The resulting hardship isn’t enough to restart the exodus to Amerika.

However, conditions in a stratified society like England’s are still difficult for working class people. Lack of economic opportunity in Europe, political and religious persecution, rigid social structures, overpopulation, all make Europe a place of opportunity for shipping lines, railway lines, hotels, immigrant agents, land dealers and the government of Canada.

The people who saw the vast numbers of people who wanted to leave Europe as an opportunity to make a lot of money, legally and illegally, were determined to attract as many customers as possible. If you’ve got steamships and Europe has potential passengers, you’ll do whatever you can to convince people they should emigrate.

The WhiteStar-Dominion Line’s booklet for emigrants has this to say:

“For

INTENDING EMIGRANTS

ADVANTAGES OF EMIGRATION

There is no subject connected with the happiness and well-being of all classes of our over-crowded population of such interest as the all-important subject of EMIGRATION. The serious attention of statesmen, philanthropists, and political economists has long been directed towards the most effectual means of relieving the pressure of a population increasing at the rate of at least 400,000 per annum. Whilst the difficulty of making a living in England is increasing every year, and the public press is teeming with letters from successful emigrants, writing from the land of their adoption, to urge their fellow countrymen, toiling in the over-crowded cities and unproductive agricultural districts of England to follow their example and go to Canada, the Greater Britain on the other side of the Atlantic, it is now generally admitted that the only practical remedy for poverty, want of employment, and the many evils of an over-crowded country, is EMIGRATION.”

That’s a hard-edged sale’s pitch. England is over-crowded according to the steamship line hustlers, everyone agrees that emigration is the answer, the newspapers don’t just have a few letters to the editor about life in Canada. The newspapers are “teeming” with letters from successful emigrants. No letters, apparently, about the hardships, the disillusionment, the failure. Those successful emigrants are writing not just to the general public but to fellow countrymen who are toiling in cities that are over-crowded and in agricultural districts in England that are unproductive. If that terrible picture of life in England and that rosy picture of life in Canada wasn’t enough to move you to rush out to buy a steamship ticket, the writer assures the reader that moving to Canada isn’t really such a big change. After all, Canada is no more, no less, than the Greater Britain on the other side of the Atlantic. When you emigrate, it will be just like being at home.

People believed the letters in the papers, the advertising, the promotional materials. They did sell their houses, give up their rooms, sell off their belongings, seek out the local agent of the Steamship line and buy a ticket.

All the letters sent back to England about the hardships in Canada are ignored. In Barry Broadfoot’s The Pioneer Years what comes out time and again is how completely unprepared people were for life on the Canadian prairies. In one reminiscence, the speaker says, “I landed at Quebec July1, with my five pounds, which is what the Canadian government said you had to have to land in their country. My ticket said Humboldt, Saskatchewan.” The speaker misses his train stop and goes two stops too far. He is so naïve that he wants to know if he can get a bus or a tram to take him back to Humbolt. He has to walk.

In “No More Farming for Us” the speaker says that they’d left a good home in England. They’d left a cottage style house with 11 rooms and found themselves on the “bald prairie south of Battleford.” They manage to build a shack of 14 x 20 feet. When it is finished, they are having a picnic when the house catches fire. They save nothing. They move to the nearest town and the father gets a job.

One pioneer says about the CPR booklets extolling emigration. “You couldn’t walk down the street in Glasgow without somebody handing you a pamphlet or a booklet about the glorious west. I expect it was the same in every big city in Britain….What did people in Glasgow know about farming.”

In “Oatmeal, Tea, and Rabbits” the speaker says, “The first winter I don’t know how we did it. All we h ad to live on was oatmeal and tea and rabbits. Oatmeal without milk. Tea without sugar.”

It doesn’t matter, of course, to the railway, the steamship companies, the immigration agents, the hotel owners, the suppliers of equipment. They’ve got the money for their services and goods. IF people survive, they’ll become customers shipping goods or receiving goods on the railway. They’ll be customers, each little family a source of profit and it will all add up to many fortunes for the few.

second class luxury

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