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Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville) - French Canadian Emigration to the United States 1840-1930


Source:
Marianopolis College
faculty.marianopolis.edu/ c.belanger/ quebechistory/ readings/ leaving.htm


"...the emigration of French Canadians to the United States was internally caused by demographic pressures, rural poverty created by indebtedness and a host of other ills related to the climatic and geographical characteristics of the province, low productivity of the farms, the developing agricultural crisis, the lack of suitable regions of colonisation, the insufficient level of industrial development to absorb the excess population and the low wages that inevitably attended such a catastrophic situation. Externally, the proximity of the New England factories that offered easy employment, good wages by Quebec standards, and the cheap and easy access through the rail system fuelled the migration.

... Given his poverty, the French Canadian emigrant could not afford to go very far. The farther the destination, and the greater the length of time one had to travel, the greater the cost would be. New England provided the greatest opportunity at the lowest cost. However, it also minimised the cultural costs. Given the reality that French Canadians would have great cultural costs in leaving Quebec, one can only understand their large-scale emigration in the 19th century as a reflection of the serious economic problems of the time and because of the geographical contiguity of New England to Quebec. Essentially, it could be argued, these emigrants did not really leave Quebec not only because they often thought of their emigration as temporary, as will be discussed below, or because they established themselves in "petits Canadas" that resembled very closely the geographical and social patterns of Quebec, but, as well, because, in a sense, all they were doing was to slightly enlarge the borders of French Canada. In this sense, there was little difference between settling into New England or into the Saguenay region.

The initial patterns of emigration to New England were reinforced by what has been termed l’émigration en chaîne. Family and parochial ties played an important role in stimulating and channelling emigration. Often, the emigration of an entire nuclear family would begin with the departure of a couple of its members who would sound out the general situation in a given town and then would send for the rest of their family. Cousins, uncles and nephews would often join the initial family before bringing their own relatives down, creating a pattern of settlement where family ties became the primary source of support and information in the United States. This pattern would often ensure that certain American towns would receive French-Canadian emigrants mostly from specific towns or parishes within Quebec. For example, the French Canadians of Southbridge, Massachusetts, tended to come from Sorel and Saint-Ours. This pattern, familiar to sociologists, also served to minimise emotional and cultural costs of emigration."




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Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

Southbridge, Massachusetts, USA (Globe) (Lensdale) (Saundersdale) (Shuttleville)

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