Attempts to limit immigration

Even if Blacks did find freedom in Canada, they would still end up being treated as second class citizens. As a case in point, in 1911, white Canadians protested following rumours that a large number of African-Americans were planning on immigrating to Canada from Oklahoma.

The government, then under the leadership of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, didn’t have the power to pass laws that discriminated on the basis of race or skin color. They therefore ordered immigration officials to deny entry to African-Americans based on medical or financial reasons. These same agents, who had previously encouraged African Americans to come to Canada, now tried to discourage them from coming into the country by telling them how cold it was here.

This measure to restrict the immigration of visible minorities, which also applied to Asians, would significantly reduce the number of Blacks within the population. From 1901 to 1911, around 751,000 American colonists settled in Canada, but only 1524 of them were Blacks. In 1911 there were only about 150 Blacks residing in Winnipeg, the same number in Vancouver and approximately 300 in Edmonton.