The gulf between English and French Canadians has persisted largely because of ignorance. Neither side knows much about the other's real motives and intentions, fears and feelings. They see each other, and judge each other's actions, largely in terms of stereotypes, and always fear the worst.
White and Black
Prejudice against those with black skin was deeply rooted in Europe. Blacks were brought to America from Africa as slaves. Most were taken to the southern United States. There were about 1100 Black slaves in New France in 1759. The LOYALISTS brought about 2000 slaves with them from the U.S. Slavery was finally abolished in Canada in 1834, though it still existed in the U.S. As a result, many escaped slaves fled to Canada via a secret route called the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. Nevertheless, Blacks were regarded as backward and only the most menial jobs were open to them. Most lived in areas isolated from whites. They were refused admittance to white churches, hotels, restaurants, theatres, and swimming pools. They received poor education, often in segregated schools.
Today, Blacks have entered most levels of Canadian society. They have a higher level of education than whites. However, they still face discrimination in some places.
The number of Canadians who were not of British or French origin increased greatly after 1900. These people were encouraged to come to settle the prairies, or to work on the railways, on construction, or in factories. French Canadians feared that these newcomers would push them further into a minority. Many English-speaking Canadians worried that these people, with their strange languages and customs, would destroy the British nature of Canada. In their minds, the immigrants were inferior. The more different they were, the less desirable they were to the Anglo- Saxon majority.
These prejudices were reflected in Canada's immigration policy. British and Americans were thought to be the most desirable immigrants. In descending order, Canadians ranked northern and western Europeans, central and eastern Europeans, Jews, and southern Europeans. Blacks and Asians were considered at the bottom because it was thought that there was no hope that they could successfully be absorbed by the British society.
Despite these views, Canada was in desperate need of settlers and workers, and an increasing number of immigrants arrived from the less desirable groups. This put a great strain on the society and strengthened the prejudices held against these groups.
Prejudice against the Jews is called "anti-semitism." It has a long and ugly history in Europe and has been part of Canadian society since the 19th century. The prominent writer Goldwin SMITH expressed his anti-semitism in many of his books, calling Jews "enemies of civilization." In Quebec, the political leader Henri BOURASSA urged Canada to keep its gates shut to Jews. Catholic journals were also hostile to Jews. In 1910 a mob attacked Jewish stores in Quebec City. Jewish cemeteries