Migrant scots in a British city: Toronto's Scottish community, 1881-1911

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Hinson, Andrew
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an investigation Toronto's Scottish community in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Often recognised as one of Canada's most British cities, little consideration has been given to the 'sub' ethnicities of Toronto's British population. Focussing on the city's Scots, this research challenges the perception that a strong British identity equated to ethnic homogeneity. Using the 1881 Canadian census to provide an overview of the city's Scottish community, distinctions can be made between them and the city's other British residents. While often thought to have occupied positions of power and influence, it is shown that Scots could be found in a wide variety of occupational positions, existing across all social groups. Looking at those immigrants who arrived subsequent to this, the 1911 census has been used to build a database of Scottish immigrants who are analysed as to why they specifically chose Toronto as an immigrant destination. That there existed such a strong migration channel between Scotland and Toronto is concluded to have been a consequence of the former's diverse workforce and that latter's diverse economy, facilitated by earlier waves of immigrants who enabled communication between Toronto and Scotland but also established an extensive associational culture to help meet the needs of the city's Scottish community. Examination of several Scottish clubs and societies show that they fulfilled a wide variety of functions, while also giving insight into the highly stratified nature of the Scottish population. Although they were able to come together when the needs of the Scottish community arose, more so than any organization it was however the Presbyterian Church which was most central to the community. Presbyterianism as identified through the census more than any other factor distinguished the Scots from any other ethnic group living in the city, and it was through this transplanted institution that Scots were able to retain a distinct sense of identity in their new Canadian home.

Toronto, Scottish community, nineteenth century, twentieth century, identity, Scottish immigrants