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Immigration Act of 1919

Immigration Hall, Edmonton With the end of World War I, Canada entered an era of uncertainty—the Russian Revolution of 1917 had created a great amount of apprehension regarding the rise of socialism and the anti-foreign sentiment that surfaced in Canada during the war continued to intensify with postwar economic instability. Spurred on by popular support and the events of the Winnipeg General Strike, in 1919 the Canadian government revised the Immigration Act.

Although the Immigration Act of 1910 provided the federal government with the power to limit immigration as it saw fit, the revisions of 1919 formalized immigration guidelines based on preferred cultural and ideological traits. While migrants of British, American or northwestern European stock were always considered ideal candidates, "less suitable" groups had also been accepted in the past when the demand for their professional skills warranted it. This was the case with the large number of agriculturalists from central and eastern Europe who settled in the Canadian West.

Now, migrants with ideological beliefs in contradiction to the Canadian government could be barred entrance and people with cultural traits that the government found undesirable could be excluded. In 1919 the newly revised Immigration Act was used to deny entry to any group whose nation of origin had been an enemy during World War I. Doukhobors, Mennonites and Hutterites were also rejected at this time because their cultural practices were considered too distinctive.

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