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1925 Railway Agreement

After World War I, the Canadian government cautiously resumed the task of filling the West with settlers. Initial attempts at attracting primarily British migrants were fairly successful, but the vast majority of Britons immigrating to Canada at this time eventually settled in towns and cities and not on prairie farms.

Additionally, there were nearly as many people leaving Alberta for the United States as there were arriving to the province. In 1924 the United States had adopted a quota severely restricting European immigration. As this quota did not apply to native-born Canadians, and combined with severe drought conditions in central and southeastern Alberta, thousands of homesteaders pulled up stakes and headed south for greener pastures in the United States.

Immigration policy was, consequently, once again adjusted to find a source of "agriculturalists." To this end, in 1925 the Canadian government signed the Railway Agreement with Canadian National Railways and the Canadian Pacific Railway. The railway companies were given the authority to recruit immigrants from agricultural areas in eastern, southern and central Europe. Often, the railways broke the terms of the agreement by going over quotas and by using it to bring in inexpensive labour when employment in Canada was not guaranteed. The American quota had potential European migrants now looking to Canada and, partially as a result of the agreement, 35,000 of Alberta's migrants in the 1920s came from this part of the world. (1931 Census)

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