Authors and Sources


The Exodus: Migrations, 1860-1900 (Volume II, Plate 31, Concise Plate 15)
PATRICIA A. THORNTON Department of Geography, Concordia University
RONALD H.WALDER Historical Atlas of Canada
ELIZABETH BUCHANAN (kinship linkages) University of Toronto Schools


Migration, 1871-1891 (Map)

Estimates of net migration between censuses always grossly understate the extent of movement, identifying only the net balance of migrations. Moreover county-level data often disguise opposing economic and demographic processes occurring within the county. This is a particular problem in counties that include both old and newly settled regions, rural and urban parts, and agricultural and industrial areas. The method we used to calculate intercensal net migration is termed cohort analysis. By this method net migration was calculated as the difference in the total number of people in each age group from one census to the next, less those who died in the interim. Given the age and sex structure of the population in a census year and a comparable age structure for the same population 10 years later, survival factors were used to project forward from the first census the number expected to have survived until the next census. The difference between the expected and the actual populations provided an estimate of net migration for each age and sex group. These estimates were then added together to give the total net migration and converted into rates by dividing the estimates by the average of the base populations for the two censuses. For reasons of reliability only those born before the initial census and younger than 6o were used to calculate net migration, although the total population was used in the denominator to calculate rates. This assumed that migration among the very young and very old was negligible. In the absence of registration of vital statistics in Canada at the time, life-table estimates of 10-year survival factors were used, based on Bourbeau and Legare(1982). In light of the acknowledged significantly higher mortality in Quebec than in the rest of Canada at this time, especially among infants, the Bourbeau and Legare estimates for Quebec for 1871 and 1881, respectively, were used for that province and their estimates for Canada were used for Ontario and the Maritimes. Newfoundland was ignored because the data were not comparable. The unit of measurement was the census division in 1871, 1881, and 1891. In a few cases in Ontario and Quebec, boundaries were modified or adjacent divisions aggregated to ensure geographic continuity throughout the 20-year period.

  • Bourbeau, Robert, and Jacques Legare. Évolution de la mortalite au Canada et Quebec 1831-1931. Montreal: Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, 1982
  • Canada. Census. 1871. Vol 2, table 7
  • Canada. Census. 1881. Vol 2, table 8
  • Canada. Census. 1891. Vol 1, table 6; vol 2, table 1
  • Thornton, Patricia. 'The Problem of Out-Migration from Atlantic Canada, 1871-1921: A New Look.' Acadiensis15, no. 1 (1985): 3-34

  • Widdis, Randy W. 'Scale and Context: Approaches to the Study of Canadian Migration Patterns in the Nineteenth Century.' Social Science History 12, no. 3 (1988):269- 303

    Canadian-Born in the United States, 1880 (Map)

  • United States. Census. 1880. Vol 1 (Population), table 27
  • United States. Census. 1880. Vol 1 (Population), table 31

    Migration Estimates, 1850s-1900s (Graph)

  • Canada. Census. 1871. Vol 4, tables for 1851, 1861, 1871
  • See also sources for 'Migration Rates', above.

    Further Readings

  • Bouchard, Gerard. 'Family Structures and Geographic Mobility at Laterriere, 1851-1935.' Journal of Family History 2, no. 4 (1977): 350-69
  • Elliot, Bruce S. Irish Migrants in the Canadas: A New Approach. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1988
  • Houston, Cecil ]., and William ]. Smyth. Irish Emigration and Canadian Settlement: Patterns, Links and Letters. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990
  • Hudson, John C. 'Migration to an American Frontier.' Annals of the Association of American Geographers 66, no. 2 (1976): 242-65
  • Keyfitz, Nathan. The Growth of the Canadian Population.' Population Studies 4, no. 1 (1950): 47-63
  • Lavoie, Yolande. 'Les mouvements migratoires des Canadiens entre leur pays et les Etats-Unis au XIXe et XXe siecles: etude quantitative.' In Hubert Charbonneau, ed. La population du Quebec: etudes retrospectives. Montreal: Boreal, 1973. Pp 73-88
  • McDougall, Duncan M. 'Immigration into Canada, 1851-1920.' Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 27, no. 2 (1961): 162-75
  • Paquet, Gilles. 'L'emigration des Canadiens francais vers la Nouvelle Angleterre, 1870-1910: prises de vue quantitative.' Recherches sociographiques 5, no. 3 (1964): 319-70
  • Studness, Charles M. 'Economic Opportunity and the Westward Migration of Canadians during the Late Nineteenth Century.' Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 30, no. 4 (1961): 570-84
  • Vicero, R.D. 'Immigration of French Canadians to New England, 1840-1900: A Geographical Analysis.' PhD thesis, University of Wisconsin, 1968