In 1901, Quebec had a population of 1 648 898 people. This population consisted mostly of people of French origin: French Canadians. However, there was an increasing number of people of British origin, along with immigrants from other countries. In 1901, 80% of Quebec’s population was of French origin, 18% was of British origin and only 2% had origins other than French or British. This last group was mostly made up of Indigenous Peoples, Jewish people and Italians. In the early 20th century, immigration skyrocketed. The number of immigrants living in Quebec increased fivefold between 1901 and 1931. Many of these new immigrants were Jewish people and Italians.

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In 1901, Quebec’s population was three times higher than that of Lower Canada in 1820. What can explain this increase?

1. Was it due to a natural increase; in other words, were there more births than deaths?

The birth rate in Quebec was indeed very high. This means there were many births. And the mortality rate was declining: there were fewer deaths because sanitary conditions had improved and there were fewer epidemics thanks to vaccination. Overall, there were more births than deaths.


2. Was it due to migration; that is, were there more people who came to live in Quebec (immigrants), than people who left (emigrants)?

For many years, from 1871 to 1931, many Quebeckers left the province to work in factories in New England in the Northeastern United States. They jobs paid decently. Quebec attracted immigrants (people from other countries)—especially from the British Isles and the United States—but they were fewer in number than those who were leaving the province. As a result, more people were leaving Quebec than arriving around 1901.

Your answer?

The increase in the Quebec population was due to a natural increase.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social

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