Immigrant Workers In Canadian History

3412 words, 14 pages

Intro Sample...


These immigrants are leaving one bad situation for another in Upper Canada. With little or no chance of securing land without capital they descended on Welland and other areas to try and secure employment on the canals being constructed as public works projects in Upper and Lower Canada. These Irish workers are split into two groups the Cork and Connaught who fight each other and anyone else for the few low paying jobs that are available to them. As Ruth Bleasdale states “armed conflict between the fractions could reduce the canal areas to virtual war zones for weeks on end” (Ruth Bleasdale 1981 p.115). They are also engaged in a constant battle with contractors; strikes occur over the number of jobs, hours worked and wages paid (Ruth Bleasdale 1981 p115).
This type of violence and unruly behavior reinforces the developing stereotype of Irish immigrants. They are seen as violent, irrational and unstable with little self control. Government officials and contractors invoked this stereotype to try and explain the desperate and violent situation along the canals. As one contractor put it, “They are a turbulent and discontented people that nothing can satisfy for any length of time, and who never will be kept to work peaceably unless overawed by some force for which they have respect” (Ruth Bleasdale 1981 p.107). When the government failed to suppress labour unrest and to prevent successful strike action on the Welland canal, officials and contractors used racial stereotyping and the Irish’s unruly behaviour to explain the desperate situation along the canals. They completely ignored the role government and contractors played in promoting the labour unrest and class dissention along the canals. The more accurate reasoning in determining the cause of the issue is stated by David Thorburn Magistrate for the Niagara District “The first moving cause that excites to the trouble is the want of work…” (Ruth Bleasdale 1 View More »

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