On 15 September 1896, 481 passengers left Montreal on the steamer Moravia, bound for the coffee plantations of São Paulo, Brazil. They had been enticed to migrate by offers of free passage, lodging and tools, and this at a time of high unemployment due to the economic crisis of the mid 1890s. The migrants ended up destitute, some of them begging in the streets of São Paulo. The British consular representatives helped the Canadian government to send back many of them, and most returned to Canada within eighteen months. This paper tries to understand why some people migrate as it were, on impulse, despite the warnings of neighbours and officials, and undertake a journey that to the eyes of others will end up in failure. It argues that the disposition of these individuals to migrate was strengthened by their lack of rootedness in their society and neighbourhoods.
Le 15 septembre 1896, 481 passagers ont quitté Montréal à bord du paquebot Moravia à destination des caféières de São Paulo, au Brésil. Ils s’étaient laissés convaincre d’immigrer par l’offre de traversée, de logement et d’outils gratuits, et ce, à une époque de chômage élevé à cause de la crise économique du milieu des années 1890. Les migrants ont fini dans la misère, certains à quêter dans les rues de São Paulo. Les représentants du consulat britannique ont aidé le gouvernement du Canada à en rapatrier un bon nombre et la plupart sont revenus au Canada dans les dix-huit mois. Le présent article tente de comprendre pourquoi certaines personnes décident de migrer sur un coup de tête, semble-t-il, malgré les avertissements des voisins et des autorités, et d’entreprendre un périple qui, aux yeux des autres, est voué à l’échec. Il avance que la disposition de ces personnes à migrer était renforcée par leur absence d’enracinement dans la société et leur quartier.
Sarah Moody and her husband, John Poley, must have awakened well before dawn on 15 September 1896. John, an English-born Anglican living in Montréal by 1891, was a machinist in St Henri. Five years later he was listed as living on St. John Street in the old town. Sarah and John had five children, aged two months to eight years. The seven members of this family left their home that morning for the port of Montréal carrying their worldly belongings with them, as they were travelling to a new land: the Brazilian coffee plantations. We are not sure where David Fecteau, a Catholic and native Quebecer, aged 43, and his wife Eliza Paul, 34, had slept the previous night with their five children, aged four to 13. They had made their way to Montréal at some point from Sorel, where David, who unlike John was illiterate, worked as a farm day labourer. They too were leaving for the fazendas of the state of São Paulo, as was Pascal De Mars, a 35-year-old Italian-born Catholic day labourer living in St. Jacques Ward with his wife Marie Levieux, aged 23. On the morning of 15 September they left their home on 15 Marie-Louise Street with six-year-old Anna, four-year-old Rosanna, two-year-old Angelo, and baby Carmela. These 20 people were among 481 emigrants who left Montréal at 12:30 p.m. that day on the steamship Moravia to try their luck in the coffee plantations of Brazil.
The story of this migration is largely unknown. It was first brought to light in the early 1980s by Thomas Holloway in his study of immigrants in the São Paulo fazendas, and recently Rosana Barbosa and Yves Frenette have discussed the migration in several articles. This paper explores why residents of Québec in 1896 would have chosen to embark on an adventure that everyone else seemed to recognize as foolhardy.
Almost 800 people had prepared to board the steamer in the port of Montréal, headed for Santos, Brazil, the main port of São Paulo. The ship manifest informs us that 776 men, women, and children had signed up for the trip, and that six more signed on the day of departure. A crowd of a few thousand — estimates went from a few hundred to 10,000 — pleaded with passengers not to sail. Every time someone came down the gangplank and abandoned ship, the crowd broke into a loud cheer. One episode was recounted again and again in the Canadian and international press. A man got off the boat and tried to persuade his wife to follow him. The crowd encouraged him to persist until he got on the gangplank, picked up his screaming wife, and carried her off the boat to the cheers of the crowd.
This apparently was “one of the most exciting scenes ever witnessed on the wharf.” The special immigration commissioner sent by the São Paulo government to Montréal, Americo de Campos Sobrinho (who also happened to be the son of the former president of the State of São Paulo) even spoke of “all sorts of violence being committed” under the seemingly respectful gaze of the local police. Many individuals were convinced to get off the boat, and 481 migrants departed on the long journey to South America, meaning that 300 people had a change of mind at the last moment.
The migration experience was a total failure. Some immigrants died on board the ship and some in Brazil, others became indigent labourers on coffee plantations, and yet others were reduced to begging. The vast majority either were sent back to Canada or Britain with the help of British consular representatives or made their way back on their own within a couple of years.
The 481 emigrants included 286 adults and 195 adolescents, children, or infants. In all there were 101 married couples on the boat. Seventy-five men over the age of 18 were not married or were travelling without their wives. Sixty of them were single, 12 were widowers, one was divorced, and two were listed as married but their wives did not sail with them. Only eight women over the age of 18 were not married or were travelling without their husbands. One sailed without her husband and five were widows, three of whom headed families. Was their act of emigration a last-ditch attempt at staving off poverty? Or did it represent an elder son’s decision to have the family try its luck elsewhere? Although it appeared from press reports that most families were French Canadian, in fact not more than 31.7 percent were French Canadian, and this estimate is probably too high. Of the 480 men, women, and children who sailed, 289 were Catholic and 192 were Protestant. Among the Catholics, I was able to isolate all migrants of Irish or British ethnicity and other ethnicities such as Italian, as well as a few individuals born in France. At least two of the passengers listed as Protestants were most likely Jewish (eight other Jewish individuals got off the boat before it sailed).
Why did certain passengers stay on the Moravia, while others got off? Why did they sail? The most obvious explanation is poverty. Generally, those migrants who intended to leave Québec or emigrated were certainly in the lowest socio-economic strata of Québec society. Every single person named on the ship’s manifest – husband, wife, or child – was listed as an agricoltore (Italian was used on the manifest, not Portuguese, as the transportation company and the captain were Italian) or farmer, which was definitely not the case. Of the traceable 45 heads of family who were men and whose occupations were listed, only two claimed to be farmers either in the city directory, on passenger lists, or in the 1891 census. The two most prominent occupational groups were 18 labourers and 15 skilled workers. These groups comprised semi-skilled and skilled trades, but the North American economy was in the tail end of a major recession at the time, and both categories would have been vulnerable to unemployment. Unemployment reached its apex in the mid-1890s, which suggests that at least some of the emigrants or prospective emigrants were without work and living in poverty.
That most were in dire economic circumstances is substantiated by press reports. On 23 September, the Canadian Order of United Workmen held a meeting for those families who had signed up for passage but then declined to sail. The purpose was to assess their needs. These families were in destitute circumstances, without work, and many had no clothes, as the ship’s crew had not returned their luggage when they disembarked. Others were “being cared for by people almost as poor as themselves, people who found it a hard job to keep the wolf from their own door.” Forty-two men registered that evening to find work. L. O. David, the Montréal City Clerk, claimed that “the extreme poverty which he knew to exist amongst hundreds of families in Montréal was no doubt responsible for the alleged success of the Brazilian agent.”
Not all the emigrants, however, were without means. One British immigrant to Montréal who then went to Brazil, Percival Holman, had been employed in Montréal “and business being very dull, and glowing advertisements being sent through the Dominion, I gave up my occupation, sold my home and proceeded with my family to South America.” He may have been an exception as a homeowner, and he was employed as an engineer in a sugar refinery, though was no doubt feeling the effects of the recession. When on 26 January 1897, 54 Canadians returned from Brazil, one “man in good circumstances” was waiting at the train station for his son and family to arrive from New York, although they did not show up that evening. His son had not left out of poverty: “Nothing could persuade him to stay, and fired with the spirit of adventure, he left, accompanied by a young wife and three small children, leaving an excellent home and situation for the uncertainty which has turned out to be disastrous.” The Gazette reporter at the train station described another emigrant “who had an excellent situation in the Verdun Asylum. All the argument in the world would not prevent him from leaving.” Even if we argue that these migrants were exceptional and that most were destitute, can poverty explain the migration?
Problématique and context
This story opens an important research question that has never been investigated: why do some people migrate en masse on impulse and begin a journey that will, at least to the eyes of others, almost predictably end up in failure? Historical studies on migration normally account for successful outcomes in migration but never consider why some immigrant experiences seem destined to failure. There are many examples of migrants who took calculated risks but encountered bad luck along the way, whether it was a sudden economic downturn, illness or injury, or theft. But there are fewer examples of groups of migrants who decided not to seek the advice of kin, or perhaps not to heed the advice of neighbours and friends, and left for a new land with little more than vague promises from less than honest agents. Almost by intuition we can understand that poverty might be an important reason for the migration, and this Montréal to São Paulo episode certainly took place in a period of economic depression and high unemployment, involving many unskilled and skilled workers. As not all the migrants were unemployed or in difficult financial circumstances, did other factors beyond poverty influence their decision to migrate? This paper will use this case study to explore why these families chose to leave Montréal and take part in a journey that many Montrealers predicted would not end well. In the 26th Canto of the Inferno, Dante describes Ulysses’ “mad flight” beyond the Pillars of Hercules into the unknown with his companions. Need and desire may have goaded them on that adventure, but they lacked the means to navigate the Mare Nostrum. Those migrants who left for Brazil may have had a rationale for their passage even if their adventure would prove a failure. They too travelled to a land “beyond the pale” for Canada, without the necessary means for adapting to the local context. Can we label their enterprise a “mad flight”?
That people should suddenly decide to throw caution to the wind and migrate on impulse opens an interesting question: why would they do something that appeared to their neighbours to be so irrational? The vast trans-disciplinary literature on migration theory has grappled with the motives and contexts that lead people to migrate. Scholars use the term “selectivity” to identify those individuals in a given cohort who make the decision to leave home for opportunities elsewhere. Does the decision depend on the social or occupational backgrounds of the migrants or access to capital? What role do family and gender play in the decision? Do migrants act rationally or on impulse? Are they induced or enticed to migrate?
Historically, many cases of individuals or groups, like the Montréal migrants to Brazil, do not fit the profile of successful migrants, and their migrations cannot be explained by conventional theories. Their experience is a total failure. They have not planned their migration or acquired information through family, kin, and other networks. Rather than journey to the traditional destinations of their home regions, they respond to attractive but inaccurate inducements. In other words, they migrate en masse on impulse. This study is an attempt to examine historically why they do so by investigating the emigrants from Montréal to the state of São Paulo in 1896–7.
I propose to tackle the research questions starting from sociologist Barak Kalir’s conceptualization of “migratory disposition.” His theory, which borrows from Pierre Bourdieu and has been adapted to his work on Ecuadorian migrants to Israel, tries to account for the impulsive character of some migrations. Kalir argues that the formation of a disposition toward migration “entails an embodiment, namely, a disposition constitutes an inherent part of one’s sense-making mechanism, which does not only include calculative practices but also bodily feelings, emotions, and desires.” If people who might never seriously have considered migrating do so in response to enticing propositions, they act impulsively, not solely by calculated decision based on an assessment of needs and information on prospective destinations. Enticements create a disposition in them to migrate, but they do not test or verify details through the normal information networks of prospective migrants. Another sociologist, R. C. Taylor, detected a similar phenomenon among West Durham coal miners in the 1960s. Just over half of the sample of migrants he studied were what he called “resultant.” They had not contemplated leaving until they became redundant in the mines, and then migrated on impulse, aping the decisions of friends or relatives, with little information. In the present study I argue that these impulsive migrants were lured by dishonest agents and influenced by the demonstration effect of neighbours who decided to migrate. My hypothesis is that their disposition to migrate was strengthened by their lack of rootedness in their society and neighbourhoods. Thus they did not test the information they were being fed by agents through the usual networks of kin and friends.
Emigration of course was not something new to Québec or Canada. Since the 1860s hundreds of thousands of French Canadians had left Québec parishes to work in the mill-towns of New England, particularly in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. A similar number of English Canadians had crossed the border to work throughout the American northern states. Significant movement for either temporary or permanent employment also took place in the opposite direction over the 49th parallel, as the border was rather fluid, but Canada suffered a net loss in cross-border migration. In 1896 Canada was on its way to becoming one of the significant immigration destinations in the world, though certainly well behind the United States in annual intake. In the recession of the mid-1890s Canadian immigration figures also lagged far behind those of Brazil. If 167,000 and 157,000 immigrants entered Brazil in 1895 and 1896, Canadian immigration in the same years totaled only 18,800 and 16,800. That Canadian migration to Brazil should surge was an alarming prospect for officials in the Ministry of the Interior, where the Department of Immigration was housed. Canada was importing farmers and, according to immigration officials, it made no sense that Canadians should travel to Brazil to work as labourers on coffee plantations. Brazil was suitable for Europeans, Italians, Portuguese, or Spaniards, according to British consular officials among others, and Canadian officials reiterated the idea in their own correspondence and communiqués. Brazil was not a suitable place for “Nordic” immigrants and hence Canadians, they argued, and they insinuated that it was not a “civilized” land for British subjects. The tropical climate harboured all sorts of disease, in particular yellow fever, agricultural practices were different, immigrants were prey to dishonest agents, and the food available would be unpalatable to a Canadian. The press picked up the same ideas. There was plenty of “proof” that Canadians would not be able to survive. In 1891 and 1892 about 1,500 emigrants left a number of British and Irish towns, many of them from Bradford, and headed for Brazil; almost all had to be sent back to Britain in destitute circumstances with the help of British consular officials in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Santos. The British and Canadian episodes were connected. The British consuls in Rio and Santos warned Canadian officials about Brazilian immigration agents headed for Canada. They predicted that many gullible people would end up like the Bradfordian emigrants; indeed, Canadians were soon asking British officials in Brazil for help to return home.
The agents who lured the migrants were the terminal points of a system that sustained the Brazilian and, in particular, the São Paulo economy. From the mid-nineteenth century, Brazilian coffee production expanded from Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais into São Paulo to the extent that the province accounted for half of the world’s coffee production by 1900. The fazenda was the main production unit. A class of producers maintained these massive plantations whose only purpose was to export coffee for the world market. Coffee farming was labour-intensive, and the early source of that labour had been slaves. Slavery ended in 1888, after a gradual decline in preceding decades. The province of São Paulo responded by attracting immigrants to replace slave labour from the early 1870s. A Sociedade Promotora da Imigraçao (Immigration Promotion Society) was created in 1886, whose work from 1895 on was taken over by the Secretaria or Department of Agriculture, Commerce and Public Works. The planters controlled the province of São Paulo and thus decided on the political programme of heavy subsidies to enhance immigration. As Thomas Holloway has noted, “From 1889 to the turn of the century nearly three-quarters of a million more foreigners arrived in São Paulo, of which 80 percent were subsidized by the government.”
Subsidies meant that those immigrants who did not have the means to emigrate could receive free steamship passage to Santos, rail passage to São Paulo, and eight days in an immigration centre or hostel (the Hospedaria São Paulo) before being engaged on a fazenda. The subsidies were paid in the form of a grant for each adult in a family group to contractors who would provide the immigrants. The most significant of these contractors and the one ultimately behind the Montréal expedition was Angelo Fiorita & Company, a Brazilian contractor who had been in the business at least since the 1880s. The immigration contracting company made its profit by pocketing the difference between the government subsidy and the cost of doing business, which included free passage for qualifying immigrants. The immigrants had to be a family with at least one working-age male. The conditions regarding the family make-up were quite detailed. Significantly, the immigrants had to be farmers or agricultores, although, as Holloway notes, “state officials commonly assumed that many people of urban origin misrepresented themselves as farmers in order to qualify for free passage.” Most Montréal migrants followed this pattern, and the transportation company and agency turned a blind eye.
The majority of the late nineteenth-century immigrants to São Paulo were Italians, 73 percent between 1887 and 1900. The preponderance of one ethnic group, though useful for the fazendeiros, also kept them reliant primarily on one source of labour. On a number of occasions, Italy suspended migration to Brazil because of either diplomatic incidents or reports of fraud and abuse of Italian immigrants. For this reason, the Secretaria, in tendering its immigration contracts, included quotas on specific ethnic groups. The contract tenders involved an act of the State of São Paulo, as the subsidies were an allocation of resources. Law 356 of 29 August 1895 specified the introduction of 55,000 immigrants to the state, 45,000 of whom would arrive from Europe and 10,000 from Québec and Puerto Rico (though it appears that Puerto Ricans were not solicited). The Europeans were to be Italian, Dutch, Swedish, German, Norwegian, English, Austrian, Portuguese, or Spanish. On 7 March 1896, Dr. Bernardino do Campos, the State President, and his Secretary of Commerce, Agriculture and Public Works Theodoro Dias de Carvalho Junior signed a contract with Angelo Fiorita & Comp for the “delivery” of those 55,000 immigrants. According to the contract (clause 14), Fiorita would be paid the transportation subsidy for travel from Canada of £9 for adults over the age of 12, £4.10 for children aged seven to 12, and £2.5 for children aged three to seven. The corresponding rates for Italian immigrants were £4.16, £2.8, and £1.4. Fiorita sub-contracted the shipping of those migrants to the Genoese transportation firm La Ligure Brasiliana, owned by his son-in-law Gustavo Gavotti, and thus had transported hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Genoa to Santos in previous years.
The Brazil migration campaign in Québec
Gavotti’s managing director in Montréal was an Italian soldier of fortune, Francesco Antonio Gualco, a former contractor on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Apparently, in the mid-1890s he communicated with Bernardino de Campos, the President of the State of São Paulo, regarding the possibility of deflecting French-Canadian migration to New England in the direction of Brazil as a means of compensating for the instability of Italian migration. In less than three months following the signing of Fiorita’s contract, Gualco had opened an office on Commissioners Street in Montréal, spread news that he wished to open a steamship line between Halifax and Santos in winter, and began advertising in at least one English- and one French-language newspaper.
These advertisements in the “situations vacant” (what we now call “want-ads”) came to the attention of a priest by the name of Charles-Ernest Trudel. The abbé Trudel was born in Saint-Roch-de-l’Achigan in 1851 and was ordained for the diocese of Rimouski in 1876, and was thus certainly well aware of the colonization movements promoted by the clergy in the late nineteenth century to persuade French Canadians to stay on the land in Québec and not to migrate to the United States. In 1878, he is said to have founded the village of Routhierville in the Matapedia Valley and became its first priest. Trudel served as an English professor in the Rimouski Seminary from 1878 to 1881 and was then a pastor at Saint-Pierre and at Saint-Georges-de-Malbaie, vicar at Trois-Pistoles, curé at Sainte-Françoise, and finally curé at New-Carlisle. Church officials had some concerns about the young priest, and, after a year’s leave of absence in 1889–90, he ended up near Fargo, North Dakota, for a couple of years. He went to Europe and then Ogdsensburg, New York, where he served as an assistant pastor until 1894. At this point Trudel seems to have returned to Québec as pastor of a parish in the diocese of Valleyfield. Some reports referred to him as a defrocked priest, and he was certainly a renegade who caused his bishop endless trouble.
Trudel had met the former Brazilian Consul in Montréal (from September 1892 until December 1893), J. C. Alves de Lima, who gave the priest information on Brazil as a land of immigration. Alves de Lima had signaled his government about the growing local interest in Brazil as early as May of 1893, just a few months into the deep economic recession that would last three years. He wrote the São Paulo President Bernardino de Campos, stating that in Montréal “not a day passes by without a request for information on Brazil. Almost everyone asks for detailed news on our country.” He went on to ask if he might be sent suitable literature from the Sociedade Promotora de Immigraçao to hand out in Montréal. As a consequence, in August 1893 the Inspector-General of Lands and Colonization authorized him to collect information on possible emigrants to Brazil.
Perhaps the two met in New York State while Trudel was in Ogdensburg and Alves de Lima in Syracuse. Alves de Lima was the first Latin American student to graduate from Syracuse University, in civil engineering in 1878. He gave a public address on Brazil in 1877 as a student and published other articles regarding coffee, rubber, energy, and possible Brazilian-American cooperation. Trudel, in consultation with him, wrote a proposal in late May 1896 to the President of the State of São Paulo to establish a settlement of French Canadians in São Paulo. Intrigued by a booklet that Alves de Lima had written on the province and its coffee culture and pointing to the large migration to the United States and the lack of work there because of the recession, he inquired about economic possibilities for French Canadians in Brazil. “We are very proud of our language and our religion,” he wrote, “and if we knew that Brazil had such a rich and fertile land, a government liberal enough to protect us in the present and in the future we would not hesitate for a moment to take up the foundation of a permanent colony in your State.” If coffee was king in Brazil, what could the immigrants from Québec bring to the new colony? Grains and vegetables, butter and cheese. Would the São Paulo government be willing to sell 6,000 hectares of fields and forests for a French Canadian colony of 500 families, with a 15-year time frame for payment? Would the government also cover the costs of building a church and schools, and the priest’s salary until the colony could assume the responsibility? Trudel posed these questions to the São Paulo president and entrusted the document with Alves de Lima, who was supposed to deliver the petition personally to do Campos.
It is difficult to tell whether Charles Ernest Trudel had already met Gualco when in early June of 1896 the abbé, under the pen name of Alves de Santo, wrote a scathing article in La Presse attacking Gualco’s advertisements recruiting French Canadians for Brazil. While Trudel was attracted to the idea of French-Canadian colonies in “a land of the same race and religion,” especially because they were “suffering from the persecution and the tyranny of an ungrateful people determined to destroy our language and our faith,” he warned his people to guard “against certain agents who could buy you as formerly African negroes were brought to be transported to the coffee plantation of Brazil where they became the slaves of the planters.” Gualco responded a couple of days later saying there was no such person as Alves de Santo and that the writer, he suspected, was one who had sought employment with his company. Mysteriously, within a few days, Trudel retracted his comments, saying that the Ligure Brasiliana was a trustworthy company and that the ex-Consul de Lima had mistakenly raised doubts with him about Gualco’s enterprise. This is probably untrue, as Alves de Lima remembered Gualco in his memoirs as “um homem de visão,” a man of vision.
Alves de Lima never handed the petition to de Campos, and he returned it to Trudel, who sent it to Angelo Fiorita. He likewise should have handed it to Campos but did not. Eventually it ended up on the president’s desk when Trudel sent it to him from within Brazil. On 15 June, Gualco and Trudel began cooperating. The abbé Trudel became a representative of the Ligure Brasiliana among French- and Irish-Canadians who had established themselves in Brazil. Evidently, Gualco found it useful to employ a priest as a drawing card for his venture, and Trudel was able to follow his dream.
As noted earlier, Gualco carried out an advertising campaign over the summer months with a view to attracting a full boatload of emigrants. Remarkably few members of the public took note of the campaign or the fact that Gualco had begun to look for agents to comb Québec for “farmers” who could be lured to Brazil. He was able to stay out of the limelight and thus not draw too much negative publicity over the summer. The consular officials in Rio, Santos, and São Paulo had gotten wind of plans to attract French-Canadian immigrants, and Percy Lupton, the Consular Agent in São Paulo, had warned Canada, through the Colonial Office and the High Commissioner, that such plans were afoot. The Deputy Minister of the Interior informed the Secretary of Agriculture and Colonization in Québec in June, but there was no follow-up until September, just a few days before the Moravia set sail.
One cleric did take notice in early July of the work of the Ligure Brasiliana. The abbé Georges Dugas was a well-known writer who had spent much of his life in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, and then retired to his brother’s home in the rectory of Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines in Québec. There he wrote about the history of the Canadian west and early in 1896 published the original French version of The Canadian West. In the fifth chapter Dugas described how recruiting agents of the North West Company had enticed voyageurs from their lands with exaggerated promises regarding life in the upper country. He found an analogous situation in 1896. In an article in Le Soir, he lashed out at the competition among agents to draw French Canadians to a land unfit for them. Like the old fur trading company agents, who snatched the voyageurs from their land to “turn them into slaves out there, promising them happiness and riches,” these modern agents were preventing French Canadians from fulfilling their destiny at home. The abbé Dugas noted that the previous day (9 July) he had met a priest from the United States who had related the disappointing news that he was leaving for Brazil with 200 Canadien settlers. Dugas did not mention that the cleric recently arrived from Ogdensburg was a fellow French Canadian, no other than abbé Trudel.
The Moravia had a capacity of about 700 passengers, although Gualco claimed that up to 1,400 people could fit in the ship, as the first and second cabins had been converted to steerage. His and Trudel’s efforts were focused on filling the boat to capacity, as this would ensure that with subsequent trips they would reach the complement of 10,000 immigrants. They printed fliers that were posted on church doors or passed around on the street. The abbé Trudel claimed that “without flattery and in all sincerity I can declare with assurance that without my participation these gentlemen [Gualco and Gavotti] would never have been able to see their first ship leave the port of Montréal. It’s thanks to a circular printed under my signature by which the Company solemnly committed itself to have this first contingent accompanied by a French-Canadian priest, whose mission it would be to deal with your Government to find convenient settlement means at least for our Catholic families.” The radical liberal Montréal review, Le Reveil, argued predictably, a few days after the emigrants departed, that “clerical submission played a great role. The presence in the canvassers’ offices of a priest in his soutane is the bait that attracted the dupes [les gogos]. This is monstrous, if you will, but alas the fact exists: the soutane in Canada is the best decoy [miroir à alouette] that one can imagine.” Gualco and Trudel had already understood that fact. In mid-July, Francesco Antonio Gualco claimed that his venture had the approbation of Archbishops Fabre and Bégin of Montréal and Québec, and of the Papal Nuncio in Rio de Janeiro. Mgr. Fabre denied this, saying that he and Bégin had neither encouraged nor discouraged Gualco when he told them about his work.
The advertising was ultimately not false but misleading. Prospective immigrants were offered free passage by “the Government of Brazil” and, on arriving at Santos, would be transported to an immigration centre in São Paulo, a “large and healthy dwelling,” where they would be housed for eight days. They would then be hired on a coffee plantation where they would receive a house, seeds, tools, and food to get started. The Ligure Brasiliana’s prospectus claimed that a family could easily care for 4,000 coffee trees and would make about 200 dollars a year. They could supplement this with gardening for both personal consumption and market and could also raise animals on their farms. The offer sounded ideal: “The families do not run any expenses whatever, Their passage is paid, house, implements and seed are furnished free, and food is provided for a year.” Only some of these conditions would be met. The emigrants were transported to Santos at no charge on what appears to have been an average immigrant ship, although it was unusual that three of the passengers should have died in transit. They were taken by barge and then rail from Santos to the state capital, where they spent eight days in deplorable conditions in the immigrant hostel, the Hospedaria, a terribly overcrowded building with very unappetizing food. However, almost none of the other emigrants really got to test the other aspects of the offer, as few were suitable for work on the fazendas and most were therefore not hired. Those who were hired were generally deemed unfit for their tasks, did not receive seeds and farm implements, were poorly fed, and were housed in what were little more than sheds, “scarce worthy of the name, consisting merely of walls and a roof, with no windows.” Canadians in Brazil were forced to beg on the streets and to plead with the British consular offices for passage back to Canada.
Towards the end of the summer, politicians and newspapers began to take note of the large numbers of Quebecers who had signed up for departure on the Moravia. Rumours referred to a thousand people. As their imminent departure threatened to turn into a political problem, the federal government worked behind the scenes with newspapers, the mayor of Montréal, the vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Montréal, and through him the clergy to persuade those who had registered to change their minds. The problem was also raised in the House of Commons and the Senate. The episode was deemed unfortunate, but liberal principles precluded any legislation that might prohibit freedom of movement.
In the days preceding the departure of the Moravia, awareness of the impending voyage increased among Montrealers. Newspapers began a writing campaign to dissuade those who had signed up from leaving. La Presse worked very closely with the Ministry of the Interior’s immigration department, which fed information continuously to the newspaper. The department went so far as to assist the publisher of La Presse, Trefflé Berthiaume, to gather evidence for his defence in a criminal libel case launched against him by Gualco. The Montreal Daily Star also spoke out against the emigration. These rival newspapers were probably the most outspoken; yet from 20 May until 28 June they had each published numerous advertisements for the Ligure Brasiliana, enticing readers to emigrate to Brazil. The irony was not lost on the editor of Le Reveil, who noted that “pendant des mois et des mois” – he exaggerated – the city press had published advertisements to lure immigrants. Some Montréal newspaper editors had even attended a champagne cocktail party with the Brazilian Consul John Magor just a few days before the ship sailed. “The champagne had only just been downed before everything turned sour and the counter-campaign began,” he wrote.
Thus in the end 481 emigrants actually departed from Montréal, and 301 passengers disembarked, many without their luggage. There was some discrepancy with the arrival records in Santos, as passengers also disembarked at Québec and perhaps at other ports on the way down the St. Lawrence. Almost 40 percent of the subscribed passengers never sailed. Together the immigrants constituted 115 families, all falling within the purview of family members allowed to migrate according to the contract between the State of São Paulo and A. Fiorita & Company: a married couple no older than 45 years with no children; a married couple no older than 50 with children; a widow or widower not older than 50 with at least one child fit to work; brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, or sisters-in-law of the head of family, no older than 45 and who had previously lived with the family; parents and grandparents or young orphans who had been adopted by the family. Virtually all of the adults were mothers, fathers, widows or widowers, or brothers- or sisters-in-law. The two Italians on the Moravia were identified as Canadians, probably to help comply with quotas in the contract on the numbers of immigrants allowed to São Paulo from the main source country in 1896, Italy. Passengers also included a Jewish couple and a number of English, Scottish, Irish, and French immigrants.
Why Did They Migrate?
Migration historians have argued that poverty alone cannot explain the decision to migrate. Migration is a selective process; although poverty rates in Montréal were very high in 1896, not all the poor left, neither for New England (which in any case was out of the question in 1896, given the economic recession) nor for Brazil. That some of the migrants were not in dire straits suggests that there might have been other reasons for their impulsive departure.
One important reason for the ability of the Ligure Brasiliana to attract immigrants from Montréal to Brazil was its aggressive campaign. Had these migrants made a rational decision or were they simply “induced” to migrate by this transportation company? Dudley Baines has noted that studies of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Swedish and Italian shipping companies show that they were not aggressive in their marketing and that “agents were following, not leading, the market for emigrants.” In Montréal in 1896, however, the Ligure Brasiliana was leading the market with the offer from São Paulo of free passage, a house, agricultural implements, and food and an aggressive campaign from its agents that convinced many people to sign up for the adventure to an unknown land.
Was even aggressive recruitment sufficient to induce the prospective migrants to leave? In studies of out-migration from Europe in the last two centuries, one of the important factors has been the discussion that preceded migration. Simone Wegge and others have emphasized again and again the importance of social and family networks and migration chains in the decision to migrate. Over half of migrants from the German principality of Hesse-Cassel in the mid-nineteenth century, for example, belonged to a well-defined family network of migrants. However, there was no migration chain from Montréal to Brazil. More recent migrations have found family and friendship networks to be very significant in the decision to migrate. In the early 1970s, John J. Baxevanis found that, for his informants discussing migration from the Peloponnesos of Greece, more than 84 percent “stated that their decision to migrate had been thought of, discussed and studied in economic terms beforehand. The point at which a positive decision is made [to migrate] apparently occurs when an additional source of dissatisfaction raises the magnitude of malcontent to new levels.” For those migrants who eventually left for Brazil, three years of severe recession with high unemployment had increased their “magnitude of malcontent” and convinced them to leave Montréal. Did these migrants make their decisions to migrate in a rational manner, however? Did they discuss their migrations and seriously weigh the advantages and disadvantages of migrating? Did they seek counsel from family and kin?
It is difficult to answer these questions. Newspaper reports of families and friends who pleaded with the emigrants to get off the Moravia suggest they had neither been consulted nor heeded. There is perhaps another way in which we can assess whether these migrants had made a rational decision. Most were residents of Montréal, but how rooted were they in the city? If they had been in the city for a long time or were born there, then one can surmise that they had an extended family and kin network with which to consider the prospect of migrating. If they had been in the city for only a short time, then it would be difficult for them to have developed a network of meaningful relationships through which they could seek the advice of people they implicitly trusted. Were they “plugged in” to networks, or were they “disaffiliated,” to borrow from the French literature? To examine this question, I used a simple methodology: tracing the migrants in the 1891 manuscript census to deduce whether they had been in Montréal for at least five years. With my research assistants, I also traced heads of families in passenger lists and in Lovell’s city directories. Among the 115 families, we were able to trace heads of 16 families in either the census records or passenger lists through the www.ancestry.com website or in the 1890s city directories.
We traced with certainty 11 male heads of family to the 1891 census, accounting for 68 individuals. Ten had been in their city or town of residence in 1896 for at least five years, accounting for 58 individuals. Thirty-nine of those individuals were from Montréal. We also traced five male heads of families through passenger lists. All five had landed in Canada between 1890 and 1896. Another emigrant had arrived from Scotland in 1892. If we include family members, this group accounts for 29 individuals. Thus 39 of 97 traceable individuals, or 40 percent, had been in their town at time of emigration for less than five years. This sample of 20 percent of all the passengers does suggest that at least a significant minority of migrants had not been living in their city or town of residence in 1896 for more than five years and therefore had not developed important networks of friendships.
If a significant number of the migrants did not have family networks, how about those with relatives and friends? One interesting piece of evidence in the puzzle is the crowd that presented itself at the Port of Montréal on the morning of 16 September. Newspapers reported crowds of from several hundred to 10,000 people, and the wide variation in estimates is a curious fact in itself. One newspaper noted that many people in the crowd were relatives of the migrants, which suggests that the emigrants did in fact have family networks. La Presse’s report of the emigration included a drawing of onlookers at the port on the morning of 15 September that showed many well-dressed men and a couple of women and a boy, all of whom would appear to be from the middle classes. The depiction would suggest that these onlookers were not there to see off friends or relatives but were merely assisting at a spectacle. Even if many of the people at the pier did have personal ties to the migrants, the mere fact of having relatives or even neighbours is not the same thing as being affiliated to a network. A family relationship might place one in a reseau, but one is free to ascribe meaning to that relationship — or not. Does the tie bear any weight in making meaningful decisions in one’s life? On the day the Moravia sailed, the crowd was crying out to passengers to get off the boat. In a sense, that cry can be read as a call to those migrants to listen to reason, not to give in to their whims but to ascribe meaning to their relationships and to listen to an objective voice. This was the crowd’s last-ditch attempt to remain connected to the migrants, who seemed to be drifting off in more ways than one, physically to Brazil but also into a world lacking realism. Everyone knew that the migrants were off on a foolhardy adventure. The papers were filled with warnings. The migrants chose not to listen. They chose not to trust the voices of people with whom they had meaningful links but to follow the leaflets, advertisements, and lures of an agent or a questionable priest. As The Witness reporter put it, “Unfortunately, all have not heeded the sound advice given them; they preferred promises that were evidently exaggerated, not to say more.”
This episode of the Moravia leaves us with more questions than answers. Although quantitative data can help us to perceive why some residents of Québec chose to leave and others did not, it is more difficult to decipher the deeper reasons. I have hypothesized that those who left were either disaffiliated or chose not to trust their networks. This leads me to question why this should have been the case. Did disaffiliation result from the increasing class and economic segregation of society? Did the economic recession take its toll and leave people unemployed and uncertain about their futures? Was migration merely a desperate attempt to resolve the problem or the prospect of unemployment? Can these materialistic motives alone explain the decline in trust in those migrants’ networks or in the migrants’ unwillingness to listen to families and friends? Or does the breakdown of the bonds of trust, the unwillingness to heed advice, or the disaffiliation reflect a decline in neighbourliness in the late nineteenth century? Do these factors reflect social unease following the economic problems of the 1890s and the political acrimony over the schools questions in those same years? While beyond the scope of this paper, these questions ultimately are connected to why 480 emigrants left the Port of Montréal that day. They also suggest that this preliminary hypothesis and its findings are only a first step in a response.
Was the episode of the Moravia a “mad flight?” In many ways it was typical of so many migration stories of the late nineteenth century. Unskilled and skilled labourers facing unemployment, particularly during an economic downturn, were prone to taking risks, and at times the risks could appear to be extravagant and unrealistic. It was not unusual for migrants, in particular single male migrants, to fail in their endeavours. Consider the many stories of unsuccessful adventurers who joined a gold rush or travelled to work on the railroads in Canada on the cusp of a recession. What was unusual about the Moravia emigrants is that they were families who in a brief period of time — a matter of weeks or days — decided to leave and thus sold their belongings. They arrived in a land unsuited to their abilities and found themselves ill-equipped to perform the work expected of them. As one witness to their plight noted in her travel journal in Brazil, they had arrived in “this ‘Land of Warmth and Sunshine,’ knowing nothing of agriculture, half-skilled in some trades, or well-skilled in trades useless to Brazil.... They sickened. Their feet festered with jiggers. They could not speak Portuguese. They were helpless.” In that sense their story takes on the tragic tones of the Dantean account of Ulyesses’ “mad flight.”
The research for this paper was supported by a SSHRCC Insight Development Grant. I am especially grateful to my two research assistants, Benjamin Gordon and Lara Lavelle, for their invaluable help.
John Zucchi is a professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies, McGill University. He has published in the field of immigration and ethnic history and is the General Editor of the series McGill-Queen’s Studies in Ethnic History.
Thomas Holloway, Immigrants on the Land: Coffee and Society in São Paulo, 1866–1934 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 49, 188. Duncan MacDowall, The Light: Brazilian Traction, Light and Power Company Limited 1899–1945 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 31–3, 413; Rosana Barbosa and Yves Frenette, “De l’Amérique du Nord au Brésil : deux épisodes d’immigration francophone dans la deuxième moitié du XIXe siècle,” in Les Français au Brésil (XIXe – XXe siècles), ed. Laurent Vidal et Tania Regina de Luca (Paris: Les Indes Savantes, 2011), 79–90; Rosana Barbosa, “Brasil-Canada: ligações migratórias nos séculos XIX e XX, Interfaces Brasil/Canadá, 12, no. 14 (2012): 183–200, 186–9; J.C.M. Ogelsby Gringos from the Far North: Essays in the History of Canadian-Latin American Relations 1866–1968 (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1976).
The register noted that there were four names but then listed six names.
The Gazette (16 September 1896),1, estimated between 2,000 and 8,000. The Montreal Daily Star (15 September 1896), 8, referred to “wharves lined with thousands.”
Montreal Daily Witness (15 September 1896), 6.
Gazette (16 September 1896).
Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo (hereafter ASP), Secretaria Da Agricultura 1896, Caixa 86, Ordem 4206, Americo de Campos Sobrinho, Fiscal Commissioner to Alvaro Augusto da Costa Carvalho, Secretary of State for Agriculture, Commerce, and Public Works, 31 October 1896.
The figures have been obtained from the Memorial de Imigrante, “Livros de Registros da Antiga Hospederia de Imigrantes de São Paulo,” books 55 and 56A, http://www.museudaimigracao.org.br/acervodigital, <viewed 16 November 2011>; and the emigrant passenger log for the Moravia, “Relação dos emigrantes que partem hoje a bordo do vapor Moravia,” 15 September 1896, http://www.museudaimigracao.org.br/acervodigital/passageiros.php?pesq=1&navio=moravia&periodo_ano=&periodo_ano2=&dt_ano=&dt_mes=&dt_dia=&Pesquisar=Pesquisar, <viewed 18 November 2011>.
See correspondence of consular officials in São Paulo, Santos and Rio de Janeiro in National Archives (Kew), FO 128/227. Alice R. Humphrey, A Summer Journey in Brazil (New York: Bonnell, Silver and Co, 1900), 70–1.
The widows had three children and a son-in-law, four children, and eight children respectively. On widowhood in Montréal, see Sherry Olson and Patricia Thornton, Peopling the North American City (Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012), 234–7, 242–3.
The Montreal Star (15 September, 1896), 8, noted that “Nearly every class and nationality of people was represented. Half were English, Irish, or Scotch. The French-Canadians came next in numbers, while here and there was a German or a Jew. As a class they were a remarkably well-dressed, good-looking lot of Canadians. Here and there, of course, was one who was leaving the country for the country’s good ... Many of the men were natives of London, and by occupation either dock laborers or mechanics ... There were also on board three families from the North-West, who had tried farming in that country, and for lack of capital had failed.” The Herald (15 September 1896), 1, asserted that nearly all of the passengers were French-Canadian or Irish.
See Sherry Olson and Patricia Thornton, Peopling the North American City: Montreal 1840–1900 (Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011), in particular ch. 4.
The skilled workers included a painter, machinists, masons, a wheelwright and a joiner, and a fireman. Others included a chemist and a grocer.
Herald, (24 September 1896).
Library and Archives Canada (hereafter LAC), RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, J Arthur Cote, Department of Immigration to A.M. Burgess, Deputy Minister of Immigration,14. September 1896.
LAC RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, Mabel Boord, Hon. Secretary of the Charity Organization Society, London to The High Commissioner for Canada, 29 January 1897.
Gazette (27 January 1897).
Among the important studies are Frank Thistlethwaite, “Migration from Europe Overseas in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” XIe Congrès international des Sciences Historiques, I: Histoire Contemporaine (Stockholm: Almquist & Wicksell, 1960); Kristian Hvidt, Flight to America. The Social Background of 300,000 Danish Emigrants (New York: Academic Press, 1975).
See, for example, Robert F. Harney, “Montreal’s King of Italian Labour: A Case Study of Padronism,” Labour/Le Travail I 4 (1979): 57–84, or Lynne Bowen, Muddling Through: The Remarkable Story of the Barr Colonists (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre 1992), among other examples.
See Piero Boitani, Winged Words: Flight in Poetry and History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007): ch. 8, and Luigi Giussani, The Religious Sense (Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997), 133–4, 140.
Douglas S. Massey, “Social Structure, Household Strategies, and the Cumulative Causation of Migration,” Population Index 56, no. 1 (1990): 3–26, and Hein de Haas “The Internal Dynamics of Migration Processes: A Theoretical Inquiry,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36, no. 10 (2010): 1606–7.
Ayumi Takenaka “The Japanese in Peru: History of Immigration, Settlement, and Racialization,” Latin American Perspectives 31, no. 3 (2004): 77–98; Hugh M. Laracy, “Italians on the Pacific Frontier,” Quaderni dell Istituto Italiano di Cultura 4 (1971): 67–78.
Barak Kalir, “The Development of a Migratory Disposition: Explaining a ‘new emigration,’” International Migration Review 43, no. 4 (2005): 188.
R.C. Taylor, “Migration and Motivation: A Study of Determinants and Types,” in Migration, ed. J. A. Jackson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 99–133.
Among the significant works, see Yves Roby, Les Franco-Américains de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, 1776–1930 (Sillery: Septentrion, 1990); Gérard J. Brault, The French Canadian Heritage in New England (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1986); Yves Roby, Les Franco-Américains de la Nouvelle-Angleterre: rêves et réalités (Sillery: Le Septentrion, 2000).
Randy Widdis, With Scarcely a Ripple: Anglo-Canadian Migration into the United States and Western Canada 1880–1920 (Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998).
While hundreds of thousands of French Canadians had migrated to New England, this relocation was not considered emigration in the same way as the flight to Brazil. One newspaper referred to the Canadian migration to São Paulo as “the first real taste of emigration Canada has had.” The Montreal Star (15 September 1896), 8. See, for example, RG 25 Vol. 58, the remarks of George Wagstaff, British Consul-General at Rio to Sir Charles Tupper, High Commissioner in London, 6 November 1896, and Wagstaff to Lord Salisbury, 15 July 1896 (copy); or “Beware of Brazil,” Montreal Star (15 August 1896).
Reports from Her Majesty’s Representatives in Brazil concerning the Condition of British Immigrants (Commercial No. 19, 1891); Further Reports from Her Majesty’s Representatives in Brazil concerning the Condition of British Immigrants (Commercial No. 20, 1891); Further Correspondence Respecting British Immigrants in Brazil (Commercial No. 9, 1892); Further Correspondence Respecting British Immigrants in Brazil (Commercial No. 3, 1893). The West Yorkshire Archive Service in Bradford, UK, has holdings on the emigration from Bradford. See Brazilian Emigrants Relief Committee BBD1/1/115.
See, for example, Joseph Lapierre, Louis Courtois, and Joseph Durocher requests to the British Consul, Rio de Janeiro, 3 November 1896. See also National Archives (Kew), FO 128/227, Consul G. Wagstaff (Rio) to Charles Tupper Canadian High Commissioner, 6 November 1896; and others in LAC RG 76–I–A–1 Vol 33.
Holloway, Immigrants on the Land, 6ff, 37–40. The Department of Agriculture, Commerce and Public Works took over the immigration programme gradually with the transition to the state government following the federal constitution of 1891.
On Fiorita, see Paulo Cesar Gonçalves, “Mercadores de Braços: Riqueza e accumulação na organização da emigração européia para o Nuvo Mundo,” (Ph.D. diss., Universidade de São Paulo, 2008), 414–31.
Holloway, Immigrants on the Land, 47.
Diario Official do Estado de São Paulo, 1 September 1895, 1; the tender for contracts was announced in the Diario Official on 15 November 1895, 2.
A copy of the contract is in São Paulo, Secretaria de Estado dos Negocios de Agricultura, Commercio e Obras Publicas, Relatório de 1896, 92–103, and in Diario Official 11 March 1896, 3.
The subsidy for Italian immigrants was less than half the subsidy for Canadians, as the Paulista government tried to diminish its dependence on the large influx of Italians. Gonçalves, “Mercadores de Braços,” 205–6.
Duncan MacDowall states that Gualco lived from 1840 to 1899 and that he was married in 1888. Gualco’s marriage to Josephine Wojhoska (or Josephine Farhana) took place in London in 1892, and, according to the marriage register, he was only 21 years of age. See MacDowall, The Light, 31–3, 413; and www.ancestry.com, <viewed 11 March 2013>.
On a review of studies on the colonization movement and development of “les régions” in Québec, see Guy Masicotte, “Les études regionals, Recherches sociographiques 26, nos. 1–2 (1985): 155–73.
A.-Cléophas Morin, Dans la maison du Père: nécrologie sacerdotale du diocèse de Rimouski 1867–1967 (Rimouski: Archidiocèse de Rimouski 1967 [digital 2006 edition]), 105.
Roberto Perin writes that Trudel had left the Church soon after his ordination and studied for the Presbyterian ministry and that in 1902 he was trying to be reinstated to the priesthood. The papal nuncio to Canada discovered that the priest had fathered a number of children in the Rimouski diocese and was corresponding with a Baptist minister in Maine, hoping to find a post there. See Rome in Canada: The Vatican and Canadian Affairs in the Late Victorian Age (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 194.
ASP, Comissão geográfica e geológica, Caixa 1–A, Ordem 7616–A, De Lima to de Campos, 6 May 1893; Diario Oficiál, 21 August 1893, 3, http://www.jusbrasil.com.br/diarios/1672993/dou-secao-1-21-08-1893-pg-3/pdfView, <viewed 17 March 2013>. The Colonial Office had requested temporary recognition of Alves de Lima as Brazilian Consul at Montréal on 24 August 1892. “Brazilian Consul at Montreal M. DeLina [sic], S.S. [Secretary of State] –1892/09/09 No. [number] 4697 states no objection to” http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/orders/001022-119.01-e.php?&sisn_id_nbr=51075&page_sequence_nbr=1&interval=20, <viewed 11 May 2013>. Alves de Lima states that he spent two years in Montréal with his family. See J.C. Alves de Lima, Recordações de Homens e cousas do meu tempo (Rio de Janeiro: Leite Ribeiro, 1926), 21.
Born 7 September 1852, Alves de Lima, through his father, a fazendeiro, was able to get a posting as consul to Havana and then Montréal, “onde ninguem conhecia o Brasil” (where no one knew Brazil). He took the side of the rebels in the 6 September 1893 navy revolt in Brazil and in late December was relieved of his duties as Consul in Montréal allegedly for having tried to prevent the Nictheroy, a converted Brazilian warship, from leaving New York for Brazil. See Recordações de Homens e cousas do meu tempo, 7–19; The Teesdale Mercury, Barnard Castle, England (27 December 1893).
ASP, Caixa 85, Ordem 4205, Trudel to Bernardino de Campos, 28 May 1896 but delivered in November.
Trudel might have been referring to a publication that was printed later, perhaps in revised form: J. C. Alves de Lima, Some Revelations about the Cultivation, the Commerce and the Use of Coffee (Syracuse, 1901).
ASP, Caixa 85, Ordem 4205, Trudel to Bernardino de Campos, 28 May 1896.
“Le Canada et le Brésil”, La Presse, (3 June 1896).
La Presse (5 June 1896).
ASP, Secretaria Da Agricultura 1896, Caixa 86, Ordem 4206, Trudel to Bernardino de Campos, 3 November 1896.
LAC, RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, A. M. Burgess, Deputy Minister of the Interior to the Commissioner of Agriculture and Colonization, Québec, 23 June 1896; see also R. W. Scott, Acting Minister of the Interior to Wilson Smith, Mayor of Montréal, 11 September 1896.
L’Ouest Canadien: sa découverte par le sieur de La Vérendrye; son exploitation par les companies de traiteurs jusqu’à l’année 1822 (Montréal: Cadieux et Derome 1896); English ed. trans. Abbé G. Dugas (Montréal: Librairie Beauchemin, 1905).
Ibid., pp. 148–58.
“La Voix d’un Apôtre,” Le Soir, (10 July 1896).
The Star, (11 September 1896), 5.
Trudel to Campos, 3 November 1896. I have not been able to find a copy signed by Trudel. John Hoolahan, the Dominion immigration agent in Montréal, warned Ministry of the Interior officials of the circular on 8 July 1896, the same day that the abbé Dugas seems to have become aware of the emigration scheme. See LAC, RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, Hoolahan to the Secretary, Ministry of the Interior, Ottawa, 8 July 1896.
Le Reveil 5, no, 103 (19 September 1896), 36.
La Semaine Réligieuse de Québec 8 (July 1896): 7, 95–6.
LAC, RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, Affidavit of Americo Campos before Mayor R. Wilson-Smith and Judge Dugas, 14 September 1896, transcribed by John Magor, Acting Consul for Brazil.
Daily Witness (21 November 1896). See also LAC, RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, prospectus “La Ligure Brasiliana.”
Debates of the Senate of the Dominion of Canada, 1896: first session, eighth Parliament, 25 September 1896, 76, 249–56; Official report of the debates of the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada : first session, eighth Parliament, 8 September 1896, 957–8, and 14 September 1896, 1133; LAC, RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, Extract from a Report of the Committee of the Privy Council, P.C. 1716, 6 November 1896..
On the libel case, see Montreal Herald (25 September 1896), 8; and (26 September 1896), 2; La Minerve (24 September 1896), 26; (3 October 1896), 5, 12; and (4 December 1896), 11; Montreal Witness (2 October 1896) Montreal Star (25 September 1896); Montreal Gazette, (25 September 1986) and (2 October 1896). See LAC, RG 76–I–A–1 Vol. 33, anonymous memo of 3 October 1896, and DMI to J.G.H. Bergeron, 29 September 1896, suggesting that someone from La Presse stop by the Department to read papers and obtain copies for the libel case.
An advertisement appeared in the Montreal Star every day from 20 May to 7 June 1896, and then every second day until 20 June; and in La Presse daily from 20 May to 7 June, 10–14 June, 17–22 June, and 24–28 June 1896.
Le Reveil 5, no. 103 (19 September 1896), 35.
Herald (24 September 1896).
These details have been gleaned from the emigrant passenger log for the Moravia (see footnote 6) and cross-referenced with the 1891 and 1901 Census of Canada and with newspaper accounts.
Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, and Katherine Eriksson found that “men from urban areas who faced poor economic prospects in Norway, as measured by occupation, were more likely to migrate to the United States. “Europe’s Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration,” American Economic Review 102, no. 5 (2012): 1832–56, especially 1851.
Dudley Baines, Emigration from Europe 1815–1930 (London: Macmillan, 1991), 48.
Simane A. Wegge, “Network Strategies of Nineteenth Century Hesse-Cassel Emigrants,” The History of the Family 13, no. 3 (2008): 296–314.
John S. MacDonald, Leatrice D. Macdonald, “Chain Migration, Ethnic Neighborhood Formation and Social Networks,” The Millbank Memorial Fund Quarterly 42, no. 1 (1964): 82–97; Harvey M. Choldin, “Kinship Networks in the Migration Process,” International Migration Review 7, no. 2 (1973): 163–75; Monica Boyd, “Family and Personal Networks in International Migration: Recent Developments and New Agendas,” International Migration Review 23, no. 3 (1989): 638–70; Matteo Manfredini. “Families in Motion: The Role and Characteristics of Household Migration in a 19th Century Rural Italian Parish,” The History of the Family 8, no. 2 (2003): 317–43; and Darrell R. Meadows. “Engineering Exile: Social Networks and the French Atlantic Community, 1789–1809,” French Historical Studies 23, no. 1 (2000): 67–102.
John J. Baxevanis, Economy and population movements in the Peloponnesos of Greece (Athens: National Centre of Social Research 1972), 63.
I am using the term loosely to convey the sense of little affiliation to social and familial networks. See Robert Castel, “The Routes to Disaffiliation: Insecure Work and Vulnerable Relations,” International Journal of Urban and Religious Research 24, no. 3 (2000): 519–35.
LAC, RG 76-I-A-1 Vol. 33, letter from the Canada Government Agency in Liverpool to J.G. Colmer, 13 January 1897, which referred to one of the emigrants as “a Scotchman, Wm Carr, and his wife, who have been in Montreal four years.”
Hein de Haas refers to “negative social capital” in a “pioneer’” migrant situation wherein potential migrants feel constrained by their social context and are frequently characterized by non-conformist tendencies. Migration becomes a way to reject their existing social network, and any advice or warnings provided through such a network would likewise be rejected. Hein de Haas, “The Internal Dynamics of Migration Processes: A Theoretical Inquiry,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36, no. 10 (2010): 1606–7.
The Witness (16 September 16 1896), 1. Gil S. Epstein notes the importance of the “herd effect” in the migration decision. Private information is discarded as others around choose to migrate with little information at their disposal and convey the sense that such a large number of people cannot possibly choose to act wrongly. Gil S. Epstein, “Herd and Network Effects in Migration Decision-Making,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34, no. 4 (2008): 567–83.
Some important studies reflect the view that there was a decline in neighbourliness in the late nineteenth century in Great Britain and in the United States with industrialization and affluence. See Stephan Thernstrom, Poverty and Progress: Social Mobility in a Nineteenth Century City (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964); David Lockwood, “Sources of Variation in Working Class Images of Society,” The Sociological Review 14, no. 3 (1966): 249–67; Robin Pearson, “Knowing One’s Place: Perceptions of Community in the Industrial Suburbs of Leeds, 1790–1890,” Journal of Social History 27, no. 2 (Winter 1993): 221–44; and Philip Abrams and Bulmer Martin, Neighbours: The Work of Philip Abrams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). For a revisionist view, see Ian Procter, “The Privatisation of Working-Class Life: A Dissenting View,” The British Journal of Sociology 41, no. 2 (1990): 157–80.
Alice R. Humphrey, A Summer Journey in Brazil (New York: Bonnell, Silver and Co., 1900), 70–1.
John Zucchi est professeur au Département d’histoire et d’études classiques de l’Université McGill. Il a publié dans ses domaines de l’histoire de l’immigration et l’histoire ethnique et est rédacteur en chef de la série Studies in Ethnic History des Presses universitaires McGill-Queen’s.