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Scottish, Settlement

The first attempts to entice Scottish settlers to Canada began as early as 1622, when Sir William Alexander obtained permission from King James I to establish new Scotland or Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, his colonization efforts failed, and only a small number of Scottish families settled in Canada prior to the conquest of New France in 1759. Those who did make a home on Canadian soil were mainly Roman Catholic Highlanders who sought political and religious asylum following the failed Jacobite uprisings in Scotland in 1715 and 1745.

Those immigrants who arrived after 1759 were Highland farmers who had been forced off their rented land or "crofts" to make way for sheep grazing. Most of these Scots settled in what is now Atlantic Canada. In 1772 a wave of Scottish immigrants began to arrive in Prince Edward Island and one year later in Pictou, Nova Scotia. At the end of the 18th century Cape Breton Island became a centre of Scottish settlement where only Gaelic was spoken. A handful of English-speaking Scottish Lowlanders, mainly labourers and artisans, also joined the Scottish exodus to Canada at this time. Likewise, a number of Scottish United Empire Loyalists who had fled the United States in 1783 arrived in Glengarry (eastern Ontario) and Nova Scotia. In 1803 Lord Selkirk, who was sympathetic to the plight of the dispossessed crofters, brought 800 colonists to Prince Edward Island. In 1812 Selkirk founded the Red River settlement in what is now Manitoba, where he also settled Highlander and Irish immigrants.

The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 was followed by an economic depression in Europe that caused many Scots to leave their homeland. Some settled in the eastern townships of Lower Canada, while others were directed to Upper Canada to discourage further American settlement in the area. By the 1820s both Lowland and Highland Scot were arriving in Canada in large numbers. Continuing unemployment in their homeland, in addition to the lure of cash and land grants offered in Canada, led to a fairly steady stream of Scottish immigration throughout the remainder of the 19th century. By 1871 the Scottish population in the four original provinces of Canada reached 549,946.

The 20th century also witnessed high levels of Scottish immigration, which peaked between 1910-1911 when over 62,000 Scots arrived in Canada. By 1931, the Scottish population was 1,346,350 and is today there are upwards of 4 million Canadians who claim Scottish heritage.

Scottish Settlers

Scottish Settlers