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The Forgotten Immigrants: The Journey of the New England Planters to Nova Scotia, 1759-1768

The migration of the New England Planters was the first significant migration to the Atlantic colonies in British North America. In the wake of the deportation of the Acadians in 1755, newly cultivated lands opened up in Nova Scotia, which needed to be populated. Roughly eight thousand men and women from New England came to settle in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, and in the Upper St. John River Valley of present-day New Brunswick, between 1759 and 1768. They left a legacy that can be found in the social, religious, and political life of Atlantic Canada.

The first move towards settling the newly vacated lands after the Acadian Deportation was made via the Proclamation by General Charles Lawrence to the Boston Gazette on 12 October 1758, inviting settlers in New England to immigrate to Nova Scotia. The agriculturally fertile land in Nova Scotia would be a driving force in enticing the emigrants, but the New England colonists were wary. Lawrence sent a second Proclamation on 11 January, 1759 stating that in addition to land, Protestants would be given religious freedom, and a system of government similar to that in New England would be in place in the Nova Scotia settlements.

To Canada and Back Again: Immigration from the United States on the Underground Railroad (1840-1860)

Prior to 1850, fugitive slaves who escaped from the southern United States to the northern states were considered to be free. However, after the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, the northern states were no longer a safe haven. Escaped slaves could be captured by slave-catchers and returned to their owners. This also meant that people who had escaped slavery by entering a free state years earlier could be returned to slavery. Because of racism in American society at the time, it was much easier for a white slave owner to claim that someone was their escaped slave than for a black person to prove they were not. The same threat existed for all free blacks. The Act Against Slavery, passed in 1793, made Upper Canada (part of what is now Ontario) the first British colony to prohibit slavery. Once crossing into Upper Canada, all men, women, and children, were free.

The Gold Rush in British Columbia and the Yukon

It was a strange scene in Dawson City in the summer of 1897. Amidst the ramshackle wooden buildings, the muddy streets, and the grime covered prospectors, a large white circus tent covered the space of a city block. Inside were such luxuries as a portable bowling alley, a soda machine, two dozen pigeons, and fine silver and china. The owners of the tent were two wealthy American ladies, Mary Hitchcock and Edith Van Buren, who had come to Dawson City not to make their fortune, but to experience first-hand the excitement of the Klondike Gold Rush.

The experiences of Hitchcock and Van Buren were far from common, however they illustrate the fervor of excitement that came with the discovery of gold in the Canadian West. When news broke of gold in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia in 1858, and again in the Klondike region of the Yukon in 1897, thousands of hopeful adventurers rushed to these remote corners of the Empire. Due to the close proximity of the United States, many of these people were Americans, representing such diverse backgrounds as farmers, merchants, and even some experienced miners from the California Gold Rush of 1849. The people who came, the life they made in the gold fields, and their impact on Aboriginal peoples all shaped the region for years to come.