Kinship, Inclusion, and Exclusion in Canadian Immigration History


From the filles du roi to assisting Syrian refugees in 2015, colonial and Canadian authorities used concepts of family as part of their effort to control and shape immigration. The resulting policies promoted “desirable” settlers and discouraged or blocked those imagined to be “undesirable,” often intersecting with other prejudices, including those based on “race,” age, and sexual and gender identity.

“I think a stalwart peasant in a sheep-skin coat, born on the soil, whose forefathers have been farmers for ten generations, with a stout wife and a half-dozen children, is good quality.”[1]

This quote from Sir Clifford Sifton, the Canadian minister in charge of immigration from 1896 to 1905, is such a cliché in Canadian immigration history that one hesitates to use it. For all its overuse, this quote—and more particularly, a better understanding of its context—has a few lessons left for us in approaching Canada’s immigration policy and practices of the past. Sifton’s statement is most often reproduced as emblematic of the openness of Canadian officials to broaden immigration for the sake of settling the West, but it is absolutely not about enlarging the idea of desirable immigrants.

This quote is part of a considered argument from Sifton in favour of methodical selection and exclusion, of bringing immigration into quite strict conformity with the needs of the state. His concept of selectivity, of desirability, included the family status of immigrants. It is no accident he named a farming family unit, and not the single male farm labourer, as his target for immigration. Employing family status as a criterion for immigration means that the definitions and uses of “family status” included certain immigrants, and excluded others. This use of family status for gatekeeping includes moments or movements that are mythologized in Canada as emblematic of our state development of open and accepting immigration policies.

To return to Sifton’s quote and its context, it is important to place it in its moment. Sifton had served as a Liberal minister in the cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, overseeing not only a massive expansion in immigration, but also severe cuts in spending as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, as well as the signature of Treaty 8. Sifton’s preoccupation with agricultural settlement in Western Canada is well-known, and his direct authority to create the circumstances for it at the cost of Indigenous people is not often mentioned alongside the celebratory uses of this quote. Sifton resigned from Laurier’s cabinet in 1905 over school legislation in the West, but remained in Parliament until 1911.[2] He delivered the “sheep-skin coat” quote in 1922, by which time he had become rather more aligned with Conservative politics, and with it, he is leveling a critique at the sitting government. To quickly grasp the direction of the larger article he wrote for Maclean’s, “The Immigrants Canada Wants,” we might look to his other use of the “sheep-skin coat” description:

If one should examine twenty people who turn up at Hamburg to emigrate he might find one escaped murderer, three or four wasters and ne’er-do-wells, some very poor shop-keepers, artisans or laborers and there might be one or two stout, hardy peasants in sheep-skin coats. Obviously the peasants are the men that are wanted here.[3]

This is not a statement of great openness or welcome for those who sought to come to Canada. Why does Sifton later expand this description to include the wife and children? He believed a family unit strongly linked to the land would stay on the farm, generation after generation, where he believed they belonged. If we understand that this quote, which I think is rightly (although often uncritically) posited as a significant marker in Canadian discourse around immigration, to have some roots in conceptions around family status, where else do we see this device used to discriminate between immigrants?

Nearly everywhere. Family-oriented immigration, and notably reunification, “has always had special significance for Canada.”[4] Senator Cairine Wilson, speaking from a broad personal history of related activism and volunteer work, pointed out in 1947 that the Immigration Branch “has always favoured family movements.”[5] The preference for family settlement was formalized as its own category for immigration in the Immigration Act, 1976.[6] While the regulation of this category has shifted with a new Act (the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, 2001) and a set of associated regulations, the priority remains in place for family entry into Canada. These entrenchments in legislation are in keeping with a persistent view within the department that family establishment represents a step up in a hierarchy of “settlement” for an individual and a community in Canada. In support of a movement of Dutch families in 1948, Minister of Labour Humphrey Mitchell outlined this concept to his colleague J.A. MacKinnon, Minister of Mines and Resources (and so in charge of the Immigration Branch at the time). Mitchell explained that “the movement of Dutch families coming to Canada to farms of their own is a second stage in their settlement and is entirely distinct from the first stage which is simply a matter of placement with Canadian farmers.”[7]

Controlling this second stage of settlement by selective, targeted family regulation promoted and retained settlers deemed desirable by immigration authorities, and discouraged those who they imagined to be lesser contributors or even harmful to Canadian society. There are many examples where family status or kinship privileged the applications of certain groups or types of immigrants, and the state interest in family formation through settlement has a long history in Canada, including a role in foundational heritage narratives such as that of the filles du roi in New France.

Immigration of Spouses

The filles du roi were about 800 French women sent to New France between 1663 and 1673, with the intention that they would marry colonists and have children.[8] Marriage at the time was being deployed in the interest of empire: it would strengthen the colony by reinforcing ties to the imperial home state and increasing the (French) population. By contrast, marriage with Indigenous women was drawing French men out of the colony. This was considered as a weakening of the colony, while also presenting an implicit rejection of the colonial project. Since the French administration was not disposed to send out settlers to the colony in any numbers, the filles du roi, as mothers to colonial families, were central to imperial French designs for growth and prosperity in the so-called “New World.”[9] The provision of generous dowries, as well as the state sponsorship for the considerable costs of the program of recruitment and transportation, represented a notable investment for France.

Like other, later immigration schemes linked to concepts of family and the state interest, however, the history of the filles du roi includes a significant cross-current in which the agency and choices of individuals works within the program of the state. For instance, despite the efforts of administrators in the colony and in France to build these colonial families around rural women—presumably more familiar with the kinds of work and way of life in a colony—the movement was mostly of urban girls, some from the upper classes. The filles du roi used the program of emigration for their own interests, which sometimes included exiting an existing marriage.[10] To do so, they had to make use of financial support from the state, though, and without that subsidy women’s immigration to New France evaporated quickly.[11] Despite the limited time span of the movement, the aim of fostering growth in the colony through marriage and child birth seems to have had some success, with studies indicating millions of traceable modern descendants, representing about eighty percent of the filles du roi.[12]

Another much more recent immigration scheme revolved again around brides for men in Canada, largely from a country perceived as an imperial centre. Again, the notion of reinforcing a desirable identity in the community, as well as the transnational ties founded through colonizing empire, animated the movement. These were the “War Brides,” the (mostly British and Dutch) dependents of Canadian military personnel in both World Wars; during and after both wars, military personnel who married abroad in the course of their service were assisted in bringing their wives to Canada.

With reference to the movement of dependents after the Second World War, the Canadian government was pressed by public opinion and complaints to manage the situation of military dependents. By 1942, leadership on the file regarding support for the dependents passed from the immigration branch to the military. The military’s Directorate of Repatriation created offices as well as less formal structures to support the women and children before and during their travel, which was subsidized by the government.[13] Described as “truly representative of the remarkable womanhood of Britain and Holland,” War Brides aboard H.M.T. Queen Mary were told by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King that “Nations are gathered out of Nurseries, and they who hold the leading string of children may even exercise a greater power than those who hold the reins of Government.” The commandant of H.M.T. Aquitania repeated this quote from King and proclaimed that “British and Dutch stock such as this is indeed a welcome addition to our Country” while pointing out their links to “pioneering forebears from England, Scotland and Ireland who...hewed out their homesteads and built the foundation for a great Canada.”[14] This was a movement of new people to the country, but aligned with an established vision of the Canadian state and its citizens.

The specific nature of this movement had a few other effects that shed light on the utility of marriage and family within the context of Canadian immigration. The conventional gendered assumptions around citizenship and bringing a romantic partner to Canada (thought to be the purview of men) meant that foreign men who were engaged to Canadian women during the Second World War were treated quite differently from the “War Brides” above. They received consideration for admission much later, and in much less-organized fashion, than foreign fiancées and brides so ably assisted by the Canadian Wives’ Bureau and the rest of the Directorate of Repatriation. In 1947, the Senate Standing Committee on Immigration and Labour discussed a few cases, including one as follows:

A Canadian girl met a Polish man—it just happens to be Polish—in Canada, became engaged to him, he went away and she followed him and married him in England. Now [the immigration branch] will not even let her in, much less allow him to come in, although she was born in this country and has a father and mother living here...on the ground that having married a Polish citizen, she has acquired Polish nationality and lost her British citizenship and her Canadian citizenship...she is one of our own girls, born and brought up in this country who has met and married someone we brought here in the course of our war is brutal, unreasonable and unnecessary.[15]

The awareness of the committee of the imperative of creating and sustaining desirable family units in Canada underpinned both of these cases, and extended to a consideration of the consequences of the “War Bride” movement after the Second World War in a rather unexpected way. After that war, Canada entered an agreement with the United Kingdom to permit the entry of over four thousand Free Polish veterans. In appraising their potential for settlement, the committee members noted that, as a result of so many Canadian servicemen marrying abroad, “6 per cent to 10 per cent of Canadian girls in the marriageable age group would be unable to find a partner in Canada. This is an important question which deserves full attention when immigration policies are being discussed.”[16] Although the labour potential and the Allied veteran status of the movement was certainly in the foreground in public mind, the presence of a calculus of immigrant suitability based on their perceived potential contribution to Canadian family formation is noteworthy.[17]

Barring Out “Undesirable” Families

These movements were aligned with “desirable” family formation or reunification. The movement of British subjects (such as the overwhelming majority of the War Brides) to Canada was generally preferred by immigration authorities, but racialized British subjects, such as those from the British West Indies or from India were treated very differently from their white peers. Historian Adele Perry has addressed the necessary attention to race along with gender in the context of British Columbia, arguing that…

...female immigrants to colonial British Columbia were highly racialized: their importation was demanded on the grounds of empire and racial mission, and to fail to analyze their history as a chapter in the history of race as well as gender is to misunderstand the female immigration movement and the women whose lives it shaped.[18]

The extraordinary difficulty confronted by British Indian subjects in Canada at the time in inviting their wives to join them was inconsistent with their supposed privilege as British subjects. This was noted in a letter of complaint that circulated from the Sikh community in British Columbia in 1910 to the immigration branch. The authors argued that even a propertied British Indian subject in Canada, permanently resident, suffered a significant financial penalty in trying to bring family to Canada, in that they would have to show $200 dollars for each family member.[19] Not only was the amount eight times higher than for other immigrants, but its application was much more broad than the comparable money requirement for other immigrants. The general $25 requirement was described as applying to male and female immigrants aged eighteen or over “unless satisfactory evidence is furnished that the immigrant is going to some definite employment or to relatives or friends already settled in Canada who will take care of such immigrant.” This web of exemptions for most immigrants and their families was not available to people coming from Asia. They were covered by the language “in the case of all Asiatic immigrants” – except those covered by other regulations, which at the time included the Head Tax and the Hayashi-Lemieux agreement, which set a quota for Japanese immigration to Canada.[20]

There are many other examples of the barriers to family settlement for groups thought undesirable, and the manipulated concepts of family that aided some while debarring others. For instance, in 1887, when an amendment to the Head Tax was considered in order to admit Chinese wives of white men without paying the Head Tax, the injustice was recognized and called out in the Senate, including calls to “strike out the word white man and provide that the wife of any man coming into this country shall be admitted without paying that frightful tax imposed upon her by law.”[21] The absence of wives was linked to the perceived prevalence of vices in the Chinese Canadian community, and the structure of the Head Tax as a whole was condemned as disgraceful pandering to a segment of the population of British Columbia. Despite this argument, the 1887 amendment continued as intended, providing relief only for “any woman of Chinese origin who is the wife of a person who is not of Chinese origin.”[22]

The consideration for a white man with a family from an “undesirable” community did not extend to British subjects from the Caribbean. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Canadian immigration authorities maintained racist exclusions against immigrants who appeared to be “coloured.” However, their internal confirmation of that exclusion tended to be quite coded. For instance, in 1948, two of the most senior bureaucrats in the immigration branch exchanged a memorandum confirming that “there would be no change in policy with regard to the admission of coloured people” and that “where the head of the family is white and others members are of mixed race, admission should not be authorized unless the prospective immigrants can comply with the existing requirements of the law.”[23]

The policy with regard to admission of “coloured” people, entrenched over the first half of the twentieth century, was to admit none, or as few as absolutely possible by any application of the immigration regulations. Hence the encoded second part: “complying with existing requirements of the law” was intended to remind and enforce the practice of exclusion by use of any applicable criteria. This practice of exclusion had been expressed in 1911, under Order-in-Council PC 1324, which prohibited the landing of “any immigrants belonging to the Negro race.”[24] That order was rescinded fairly quickly, but the attitude remained. L.M. Fortier, a senior inspector with the Immigration Branch, counseled the superintendent of immigration in 1914, that he should “tell the agents and customs officers privately that every obstacle is to be put in their way, and if everything else fails to reject likely to become a public charge.”[25]

This obstructive approach to immigration involving interracial couples—including British subjects—was applied against a white Jamaican woman in 1937, who sought employment in Canada. Although the authorities could have stood pat on the extremely restrictive regulations in place during the Great Depression, which likely would have been sufficient to bar out the woman, immigration officials chose to judge her in part based on her family situation. The implication of the language of the letter is that the woman is married to a Black man, in the assiduous identification of her perceived race and the absence of a similar qualification for her husband. These signifiers—and their absence—are another aspect of the careful and sometimes coded communication within the Immigration Branch. In response to this request, the immigration commissioner wrote that “the Department would not be prepared to encourage a movement which would involve the separation of a family.”[26] This feigned protection of family integrity is not credible coming from a department that had a long history of allowing years-long separations of families as men came ahead to work various forms of labour or agricultural contracts, or again, functionally prohibiting altogether the wives of men allowed to come to Canada. This hostile use of her family status reinforced immigration restrictions based on “race” and place of origin.

Using the Concepts of Family and Marriage

Turning the language and concept of family into a cudgel to wield against certain communities was no new phenomenon in Canadian immigration practice. Henry H. Stevens, a Conservative Member of Parliament and cabinet member in the 1920s and 1930s, leaned on the social implications of marriage in a debate about immigration from India. In one of his many heated and sometimes hateful statements on Asian immigration, Stevens proposed differences in the practice of marriage as an argument against all entries from India. He grouped them, as was common at the time, under the single title of “Hindus” despite the actual immigration being comprised of many Sikhs. He argued that “the most sacred institutions we have in our civilization are our domestic institutions as they exist today” and “if we allow these people to come in here we must allow them to bring in these institutions.”[27] Slippery-slope fallacies aside, the use of the domestic idea of marriage against immigration also touched debate in the Senate’s Standing Committee on Immigration and Labour in 1914. There, the argument against the same Indian immigrant labourers who were often prevented from bringing family to the country was bolstered by the idea that they were competing for wages with Canadian workers who “may have a wife and family depending upon [their] labour.”[28]

Presenting an acceptable version of family for admission is an ongoing part of the Canadian immigration process. The effort of proving the validity of a marriage or romantic relationship has passed into cultural cliché based in part on stories like that of Mohamud Ali Dahir, who fled Ethiopia in 1979 and Somalia in 1983, heading first to the United States before arriving in Canada in 1987. Ten years after leaving Somalia, he was still struggling to obtain permission to bring his family to Canada, because written records of his marriage were not available from the failed, war-torn state of Somalia.[29] This burdensome test of the sincerity of a relationship seems particularly strange when juxtaposed with the history of Canadian acceptance for immigration of complete strangers married by proxy or picture brides.[30] Until very recently, too, a same-sex relationship and marriage was not honoured in Canadian immigration policy, even if legally enacted elsewhere. In 2004, departmental correspondence stated that applicants for entry to the country by same-sex spouses would be held pending resolution of the definition of marriage.[31]

In contrast to fear and rejection of difference, immigration of the “right type” of family was compatible with the ideology of white, preferably British, supremacy that structured Canadian immigration systems at the time. Aided by subsidies from the British and Canadian government and rosy propaganda, immigration authorities devised the Three Thousand Family Scheme to help expand agricultural settlement in Canada by British subjects, from 1924-1930. Historian Rebecca Mancuso describes this program as driven by a colonizing vision specific to English Canada, related to a sense of cultural threat to the perceived British foundations of the country.[32] At the same time, the government expanded assistance to the wives and children of British immigrants who had arrived without their families, reaching formal agreements with shipping lines to reduce their costs.

Canadian authorities devoted significant time and money to promoting the swift and sure arrival of these British families for settlement: $16.00 support per capita (compared to $0.11 for Europeans) and strict instructions that any application for family reunification “must not be allowed to remain in any office for more than twenty-four hours without action being taken.”[33] In these programs of settlement, the character of the immigrant arrivals was assured not merely by national identity but also by promotional materials that asserted a model of pioneer gender roles. This included, according to Immigration Director J. Bruce Walker, the argument that a capable and hard-working wife would keep the family “on the land,” while a lazy wife would be a critical factor in abandonment of a homestead.[34]

Constructing and using the concept of family to select for desirable immigration persisted into the 1960s. In 1962, Order-in-Council PC 86 was set down in part to eliminate racist provisions in Canadian immigration policies, but its language reflected and maintained a certain set of long-standing preferences. In the definition of relatives eligible for sponsorship, the broadest terms only applied to people immigrating from the Americas, Europe, and a few designated Middle Eastern countries. Immigrants from Africa or most of continental Asia were permitted a more limited scope of acceptable family sponsorship.[35]

Whether a relative was considered eligible for sponsorship has varied greatly based on their nationality, perceived race, ethnocultural identity, their own marital status, their relationship with the person already in Canada, and—very commonly—age. The 1910 Immigration Act offered a definition of family: “father and mother, and children under eighteen years of age.”[36] Age limitations on kinship were varied up and down according to the intentions of immigration authorities to restrain or increase immigration.[37] This could be in response to overall economic or policy goals, or it could be to restrain or increase immigration from given communities. For instance, regulations that persisted until 1962 required sponsored parents for Asian and African Canadians to be over 60 (mother) or 65 (father) while no age constraints existed for other families.[38]

The final and persistent use of kinship in immigration policy, unfortunately, is to create a mechanism to deport relatives or a family as a group. In the first well-structured Canadian immigration act (1906), if the father or head of a family was ordered deported, all of their dependents might also be deported at the same time. In 1910, this was expanded so that the deportation order of any dependent, if they were a public charge, might subject the whole family to removal. This was maintained when the immigration act was updated in 1952 and, although nuanced and refined, remained in place even after the significant overhaul of policy in the Immigration Act, 1976.[39] Although the circumstances have narrowed significantly, accompanying an inadmissible family member may still cause a person to be refused landing in Canada under current legislation. Family status remained a potential (albeit controversial) ground for exclusion as recently as 2015, when administration of the resettlement of Syrian refugees to Canada initially excluded single men. This direction, apparently based on security concerns, was reversed after public outcry.[40]


Canadian legislators and immigration authorities used many means to shape admission into the country based on their ideas of admissibility. Selective, targeted regulations and policies regarding family immigration were an important part of promoting those who were perceived as wanted and valuable settlers in Canada—and discouraging or barring those viewed as less valuable or unwanted.

  1. Clifford Sifton, “The Immigrants Canada Wants,” Maclean’s Magazine, 1 April 1922, 16-19, accessed online at
  2. David J. Hall, “Sifton, Sir Clifford,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 15, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed online at
  3. Sifton, 16. This article by Sifton deserves its own separate treatment to unpack it and distance it from the comfortable narrative of “open doors,” heard now in the anachronistic context of state-endorsed multiculturalism. He proposes discrimination between regions in the United Kingdom based on the likelihood that the people are actually farmers; he rather neatly glosses his association with a suspect and possibly corrupt immigration scheme; and he mixes in open anti-labour sentiment while describing most contemporary immigration as “the off-scourings and dregs of society.”
  4. Dominique Daniel, “The Debate on Family Reunification and Canada’s Immigration Act of 1976,” American Review of Canadian Studies 35:4 (2005), 684.
  5. Canada, Senate, Senate Committees, 20th Parliament, 3rd Session, Standing Committee on Immigration and Labour, 26 March 1947, vol. 1 (Ottawa: Edmond Clouthier, 1947), 5, accessed online at Given Wilson’s history in advocating for the arrival of child refugees, and the limited success of those movements, this comment might be read in several ways.
  6. Statutes of Canada, An Act Respecting Immigration to Canada, 1976, (Ottawa: NOTE), SC 25-26 Elizabeth II, Chapter 52, accessed online at
  7. Library and Archives Canada, RG 2, Privy Council fonds, Volume 166, File I-50-7, Mitchell to MacKinnon, Ottawa ON, 17 August 1948.
  8. Marcia Zug, Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-order Matches (New York: New York University Press, 2016), 30.
  9. Zug, 34.
  10. Zug, 39.
  11. Leslie Choquette, “’Ces Amazones du Grand Dieu’: Women and Mission in Seventeeth-Century Canada.” French Historical Studies 17:3 (Spring 1992), 627.
  12. Sophie Desportes, “La contribution démographique et génétique des Filles du roi à la population québécoise contemporaine,” Mémoire de maîtrise, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, 2018.
  13. Library and Archives Canada, Department of National Defence fonds, RG 24, File HQS-8536-1 “Return to Families of Canadian Officers and Service Personnel to Canada, 1940–1951,” unpublished report, “History of S.A.A.G. Office and Directorate of Repatriation, 1942–1947,” 19-24, on microfilm c-5220. (S.A.A.G. was an acronym for Special Assistant to the Adjutant General.)
  14. LCol W.E. Sutherland, Letter to all Canadian Troops-Dependents and Civilian Passengers On Board H.M.T. Aquitania, 12 October 1946, Canadian Museum of Immigration (DI2013.1046.1a-b and .2).
  15. Canada, Senate, Senate Committees, 20th Parliament, 3rd Session, Standing Committee on Immigration and Labour, 26 March 1947, vol. 1 (Ottawa: Edmond Clouthier, 1947), 6, accessed online at
  16. Canada, Senate, Senate Committees, 20th Parliament, 3rd Session, Standing Committee on Immigration and Labour, 18 June 1947, vol. 1, (Ottawa: Edmond Clouthier, 1947), 345, accessed online at
  17. For a personal perspective on the movement of the Polish veterans to Canada, see Mary Oko, “Jan Oko – His Journey from Poland to Canada,” Canadian Museum of Immigration (S2017.831.1) accessed online at
  18. Adele Perry. “White Women, Race, and Immigration to British Columbia,” in Epp, Iacovetta, and Swyripa, eds., Sisters or Strangers: Immigrant, Ethnic, and Racialized Women in Canadian History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 62.
  19. Library and Archives Canada, Immigration Branch fonds, RG 76, Vol. 384, File 536999, part 3, “Emigration of Hindus,” transcribed proceedings of a meeting at Swadesh Sevak Home, Vancouver BC, 24 April 1910.
  20. Canada Gazette, 1867-1946 (Dominion of Canada), vol. 41, no. 51, Regular Issue, June 20, 1908, 4 (3276), accessed online at
  21. Canada, Senate, Debates of the Senate of Canada, 6th Parliament, 1st Session, Vol. 1 (Ottawa: A.S. Woodburn, 1887) 297-300, 10 June 1887 accessed online at
  22. Statutes of Canada. An Act to Amend “The Chinese Immigration Act,” 1887. Ottawa: SC 50-51 Victoria, Chapter 35, accessed online at
  23. Library and Archives Canada, Immigration Branch fonds, RG 76, Volume 567, File 810666, part 3, “Immigration from the British West Indies,” A.L. Jolliffe to C.E.S. Smith, Ottawa ON, 8 June 1948.
  24. Library and Archives Canada, Privy Council fonds, RG2-A-1-a, Volume 1021, PC 1911-1324, 12 August 1911, accessed online at
  25. Library and Archives Canada, Immigration Branch fonds, RG 76, Volume 567, File 810666, part 1, “Immigration from British West Indies,” L.M. Fortier to W.D. Scott, Saint John NB, 30 June 1914.
  26. Library and Archives Canada, Immigration Branch fonds, RG 76, Volume 567, File 810666, part 3, “Immigration from British West Indies,” Commissioner of Immigration to J.M. Cruikshank, M.D., Chief Medical Officer (Nassau, Bahamas), Ottawa ON, 28 July 1937.
  27. Canada, Parliament, House of Commons Debates, 12th Parliament, 3rd Session, Vol. 114 (Ottawa: J. De L. Taché, 1914), 1242, accessed online at Stevens participated as a civilian auxiliary supporting American soldiers during the Boxer Rebellion and carried hardened, exclusionary attitudes throughout his political career, which included stints as a minister under Meighan and Bennett.
  28. Canada, Senate, Senate Committees, 12th Parliament, 3rd Session, Standing Committee on Immigration and Labour, vol. 1 (Ottawa: Edmond Clouthier, 1947), 27, accessed online at
  29. Stephanie Nolen, “Red tape thwarts family’s reunion,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), 9 June 1993, A4.
  30. See, for instance, the Immigration Story of Pompea Savarin, Canadian Museum of Immigration Collection (S2012.2265.1). Savarin’s story is short, but one remark is particularly striking in communicating both her personal experience and in setting the context here for the immigration department’s concern with demonstrating the authenticity of a marital relationship: “Being married by proxy - the first time I saw my husband was when I disembarked from the ship in Halifax.” On picture brides, consider for example Tomoko Makabe, Picture Brides: Japanese Women in Canada (North York: MHSO, 1995). It is worth noting that the phenomenon of mail-order marriage persists, with notable present-day connections to North American migrations by Chinese and Filipino women.
  31. Nicole LaViolette, “Coming Out to Canada: The Immigration of Same-Sex Couples Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” McGill Law Journal 49 (2004), 971, 993. Marlene Epp’s work on Mennonite women leading refugee families to Canada amid the tensions of presenting acceptable family structure to both government and community in Women Without Men (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000) is also germane here.
  32. Rebecca J. Mancuso, “Three Thousand Families: English Canada’s Colonizing Vision and British Family Settlement, 1919-1939,” Journal of Canadian Studies 45:3 (Fall 2011), 7-8.
  33. Mancuso, 14; Library and Archives Canada, RG 76, Volume 251, File 182689, “Family Settlement Scheme,” A.L. Joliffe to Fraser, Ottawa ON, 12 September 1928.
  34. Mancuso, 15.
  35. Library and Archives Canada. “Immigration Act, Immigration Regulations, Part I, Amended” RG2-A-1-a, volume 2269, PC 1962-86, 18 January 1962; and “Immigration Act, Immigration Regulations, Part II, Amended” RG2-A-1-a, volume 2269, PC 1962-86, 1 February 1962, and analysis by Lindsay van Dyk, “Immigration Regulations, Order-in-Council PC 1962-86, 1962,” blog for Canadian Museum of Immigration. Source and context both at
  36. Library and Archives Canada. Statutes of Canada. An Act Respecting Immigration, 1910. Ottawa: SC 9-10 Edward VII, Chapter 27, accessed online at
  37. Rell DeShaw, “The History of Family Reunification in Canada and Current Policy,” Canadian Issues (Spring 2006), 10.
  38. Dominique Daniel, “The Debate on Family Reunification and Canada's Immigration Act of 1976,” American Review of Canadian Studies 35:4 (2005), 685.
  39. Thanks to collaboration between the Canadian Museum of Immigration and Library and Archives Canada, full texts of the immigration acts of 1906, 1910, 1952, and 1976 are available at
  40. Rosemary Barton, “Canada’s Syrian refugee plan limited to women, children, and families,” web post for CBC News, 22 November 2015, accessed online at; Petra Molnar, “The Boy on the Beach: The fragility of Canada’s discourses on the Syrian refugee ‘crisis’,” Contention 4:1-2 (2016), 71.