TheShipsList-L ArchivesArchiver > TheShipsList > 1998-07 > 0900467881
From: Gery & Sue <>
Subject: Re: [TSL] Why Ships To Canada
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 22:58:01 -0300
At 06:27 PM 7/14/98 EDT, wrote:
>Hoping this doesn't fall into the "gee, what a dumb question" category, I
>gather my courage and ask the following question: Why did so many immigrants
>to the USA first go to Canada? In my case, with four different families
>SURNAMES], three from Ireland and one from Scotland, they all emigrated to
>Canada first, then later to the USA? I'm curious as to why, and there
>probably is a very logical reason. Did it have to do with cost of passage?
>Or was it easier to immigrate in Canada [i.e. less rules & regulations]. Or
>easier to immigrate to the USA from Canada than from Ireland or Scotland
>direct to the USA[i.e. less hassle or less rules?]? I know there must be a
>reason, and would be grateful for any enlightenment.
This is a question which has puzzled more than a few family researchers and
is a big surprise to many more. Many, many immigrants migrated into the US
via the Canadian route, particularly to the mid west, as is the case with a
lot of the Scandinavian immigrants, in particular the Norwegians. During
the earlier periods a lot of the ships left British ports and sailed, to
what at that time, were British ports. Canada, up until 1867, was called
'British North America' and came under British rule. 1776 was not that
long ago, and even fewer years after the skirmish known as "The war of
1812-13 and 14". Your Irish and Scottish ancestors sailed from British
ports [although neither the Irish nor the Scots would agree (vbg)]. The
travel arrangements from Quebec and Montreal were excellant to the US and
it was a lot easier to get to Chicago and Northern Midwest states by coming
this route. It was also much less expensive than through American Ports.
The American government imposed much tighter restrictions regarding
passenger accomodation and conditions on ships entering American ports, far
earlier than did the British. This, of course drove up the cost of passage
to the US.
A look at the St. Lawrence and one sees hundreds of miles of protected
seaway into the heartland of the continent, where landlubbing immigrants
were not subjected to the rigours, or the dangers, of the open Ocean. Once
they arrived in Quebec or Montreal, rail passage to the ports connecting to
Great Lakes shipping was very convenient and inexpensive. Montreal was
also about a days walk, and much less than that by rail, or coach, to the
United States, making it a convenient point of arrival to American
destinations. In July 1836 the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, the
very first in Canada, connected LaPrairie with St. Jean to connect the Port
of Montreal with the US.
Saint John, New Brunswick also enjoyed a close proximity to the American
border and was a very popular North American arrival port for British
In March, 1836, Incorporation by the Legislature of New Brunswick of the
St. Andrews and Quebec Rail Road Company to be built from St. Andrews to
lower Canada. This is the oldest charter of a Canadian Pacific constituent.
However, operation was not commenced until the spring of 1851. The St.
Lawrence and Atlantic railroad,(later to become part of the Grand Trunk
railway system) linking Portland and Montreal, opened in 1853.
Halifax, Portland, and St. John were the Winter season ports of choice for
shipping lines. Halifax offered several sailings a week to New York and
Boston, which made it a stop over of choice for British ships and passengers.
I hope this helps a little.
Sue & Gery Swiggum
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