Scottish immigrant mother and children, Quebec c.1911

Photograph Information

Title: Scottish immigrant mother and children upon arrival, Quebec c.1911
Source: Library Archives Canada
Source Link: Mikan #3231329
Photographer: William James Topley
Date: 1911

Colourization Notes

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Immigrant to Canada

William James Topley was commissioned by the Immigration Branch of the Department of the Interior to take this series of photographs of immigrants upon their arrival to the Detention Centre in Québec City to promote immigration to Canada.

During the early-twentieth century, emigration from Britain reached unprecedented levels, with approximately 3.15 million people leaving between 1903 and 1913. The most popular destination during these years was Canada, drawing almost half of Britain’s emigrants.

From 1867 to 1914, the Canadian West opened for mass settlement, and became home to millions of immigrant settlers seeking a new life. This immigration boom created key industries still important to Canada’s international role – like agriculture, mining, and oil. The Prairie Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta grew rapidly in these years as settlers began to transform the barren prairie flatland and establish unique cultural settlements.

The immigration boom leading up to 1914 was one of the most important periods of Canadian population growth. Significant changes occurred in Canada after 1867 that made the Prairie immigration boom possible: the construction of a transcontinental railroad made transportation and travel accessible; the Dominion Lands Act of 1872 created free and fertile homesteads for settlers; the establishment of the North-West Mounted Police in 1873 guaranteed the safety of Prairie residents; and the creation of the Department of the Interior in 1873 attracted hard-working immigrants to the region.