Thematic Guides - Immigration of Farm Labourers to Canada, 1918-1945

Canadian and British government or government-sanctioned schemes for the admission and assisted passage to Canada of farm labourers (as opposed to farmer-settlers) proliferated in the period between the First World War and the Depression. This guide consists of specific and general archival references relating to this subject, mostly in the Records of the Immigration Branch (RG 76).

The list does not include: (a) the closely related records on juvenile immigration (much of which in this period consisted of youths to be placed on "training farms" or with families as farm help); (b) records on liaison with specific private immigration organizations and churches (which also sponsored farm workers along with other types of immigrants); or (c) files on booking and immigration agents in specific locations, many of whom were responsible for recruitment of farm help.

This guide was revised in September 2000.

Government Records

Records of the Immigration Branch (RG 76)

The Department of Immigration kept a collection of many records from different government departments who, over the years, have all been responsible for immigration to Canada.

  • British Immigration Aid Society (British Immigration and Colonization Association, Montreal), 1921-1959
    (RG 76, vols. 102-104, file 16120, pts. 1-10, reels C-4765 to C-4767)
    Supply to Canada of certain classes of British labour.
  • Applications for farm labourers, 1906-1925
    (RG 76, vol. 108, file 20487, pt. 5, reel C-4771)
  • Agricultural (labourer) and Domestic Servant Classes, Declaration Farm regarding Occupation in Canada, 1921-1940
    (RG 76, vols. 123 and 124, file 25323, pts. 1-5, reels C-4786 and C-4787)
  • British Overseas Settlement Office and Canadian Government, 1923-1947
    (RG 76, vols. 203-205, file 88324, pts. 1-12, reels C-7356 to C-7358)
    Assisted and Nominated Passages.
  • British Dominion Emigration Society (East End Emigration Fund), 1923-1952
    (RG 76, vols. 219 and 220, file 90891, pts. 1-5, reels C-7369 and C-7370)
    Agreement with British government regarding immigration.
  • Land Settlement Service, 1925-1936
    (RG 76, vols. 234-236, file 135755, pts. 4-17, reels C-7383 to C-7385)
    Lists of applications for farm help.
  • Immigration of labour, 1902-1948
    (RG 76, vols. 256-258, file 195281, pts. 1-9, reels C-7403 and C-7805 to C-7807)
    Mechanics, skilled workmen and contract labour.
  • Overseas Settlement Committee, 1925-1929
    (RG 76, vol. 265, file 218165, pts. 1-3, C-7813 and C-7814)
    Training of inexperienced workers in England with a view to farm employment overseas.
  • George H. Mooney (Bruce County, Ontario), 1906-1927
    (RG 76, vol. 371, file 504344, pts. 1-3, reels C-10270 and C-10271)
    Appointment as Canadian Government Employment Agent for Farm Labour in Ontario.
  • Applications for farm labourers, 1907-1923
    (RG 76, vols. 410-412, file 595173 subseries, various parts, reels C-10299 and C-10300)
    Various provinces and counties: see finding aid for details.
  • James D. Haig (Cobourg, Ontario), 1924 and 1927
    (RG 76, vol. 416, file 600045, reel C-10302)
    Distributor of farm labour.
  • Dominion Coal Co., Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, 1908-1923
    (RG 76, vols. 498 and 499, file 775789, pts. 1-3, reels C-10430 and C-9672)
    Admission of help.
  • Farm help for harvest season, 1928-1929
    (RG 76, vol. 612, file 907095, reel C-10433)
    Harvest excursions from Great Britain.
  • Ontario government assisted passages for farm labourers and household workers, 1920-1934
    (RG 76, vol. 643, file 990380, pts. 1-4, reel C-10583)
  • Saskatchewan government assisted passages for farm labourers and household workers, 1930-1937
    (RG 76, vol. 643, file 990543, pts. 1-3, reel C-10583)
  • Manitoba government assisted passages for farm labourers and household workers, 1920-1928
    (RG 76, vol. 644, file 990544, reel C-10583)

Selected Private Records

Most of the farm labourers encouraged by the federal government to come to Canada in this period were British. See also copies of British government records:

  • Colonial Office, Dominions, Original Correspondence, 1907-1925
    (MG 11, C.O. 532);
  • Overseas Settlement Office, Correspondence, 1918-1925
    (MG 11, C.O. 721); and
  • Dominions Office, General Correspondence, 1926-1946
    (MG 42, D.O. 35).

See also records of relevant private sponsors, such as the British Immigration and Colonization Association, 1920-1950 (MG 28 I62), and of the Canadian Prime Ministers (MG 26), which may include material on policy at the highest level.

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