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Scarborough is one of the most multicultural communities in Canada. Scores of ethnic and religious groups are represented here, each bringing valuable experience to the local socio-economic landscape.

Please click on the above links to access some of the stories on immigration that I've received thus far. Send your immigration stories to us at the email address on our Contacts page. For some ideas, please have a look at the McCowan Society's Oral History Interview Project below. Students are encouraged to have a look at our Learning Unit: Immigrants and Land in the context of their Social Studies courses.

Oral History Interview Project Number Nine

Immigration to Toronto
From the Former British Colonies Via Britain, 1950-1990


History can make for great evening entertainment -- as you saw at the stage production of A Scarboro Tale! But the greatest purpose of history is to improve our lot in the future. We can only avoid mistakes in the future if we learn from the mistakes -- and achievements -- of the past.

Two hundred years ago, the British Colonial authorities welcomed several thousand refugees from a war-torn state to the south into the new province of Upper Canada. Over the years, family and friends -- many impoverished -- joined the refugees in the nation-building process, arriving from Britain and elsewhere. Now, in the late 1990s, immigrants are still arriving -- and are still making astounding contributions to the Ontario economy.

Please help us set the present immigration issues into a historical context. In particular, the redistribution of colonial people during the period of structural change in the British Commonwealth after World War Two is of profound interest as we enter a new millenium and more open global trade. The McCowan Society hopes to eventually re-print the late Anthony McCowan's Coloured Peoples in Britain, originally published by the Bow Group in London, England, in 1952.

We understand that the original publication of Coloured Peoples had some positive influence on government policy respecting colonial and immigration matters. We acknowledge that the wording in the original title, "Coloured Peoples", is no longer socially acceptable.

Professor Michael Banton of Bristol University points out that Anthony McCowan's valuable archival document should be reprinted in its entirety provided we place it in the context of the early 1950s and the Conservative government immigration policy debates. Please help us by relating some of your own experiences in connection with immigration in the post-war period.

Your recollections regarding migration from the former Colonies to Britain and then to Toronto are not only history, they are valuable learning tools for the future. If you wish, we can send you our "Oral History Interview Strategy". It is important that you record your personal experiences and memories of specific events. The following questions should trigger particular memories. Please provide as much detail as possible including the approximate year of the event. You may have also heard relevant stories from your parents or grandparents: please share with us the details of these stories as well. Please give some consideration to allowing us to publish some of your recollections.

  1. Where and when were you born?
  2. Describe the village in which you lived.
  3. What were living conditions like?
  4. Was there a strong British influence in your village?
  5. Was there discrimination in your village against particular peoples? By whom?
  6. What stories did you hear about life in Britain? Did you hear these stories from relatives / friends who were already in Britain?
  7. Who made the decision in your family to emigrate?
  8. Why did you leave your native country? When?
  9. Why did you go to Britain -- as opposed to some other destination?
  10. Was it your intention to return to your native land eventually?
  11. Where did you settle in Britain?
  12. Did you settle amongst family or friends from your former country?
  13. Describe life in your community.
  14. Was there much interaction with the British? With people from other Colonies?
  15. How were you welcomed in Britain? By the British; By people from your native land; By people from other colonies.
  16. What goals did you have in Britain?
  17. Describe your experiences as a student.
  18. Describe your experiences at work.
  19. Did you have difficulty in finding work?
  20. Did you have difficulty in finding housing?
  21. Did you experience discrimination / racism / prejudice?
  22. Did government departments or local authorities assist in some way?
  23. Did the British view you as a settler or as a colonial visitor?
  24. Was the reception any different in the rural areas / smaller urban centres relative to the large cities?
  25. What stereotypes did you hear most frequently?
  26. How did you respond?
  27. Did you marry someone of your own nationality?
  28. What institutions did you join?
  29. Were you active politically?
  30. What were your aspirations on the political side?
  31. Did you achieve your economic, personal or political goals?
  32. Did Britain disappoint you? In what respects?
  33. Why did you leave Britain for Canada?
  34. As appropriate, please repeat the above questions in connection with immigration to Toronto, generally reading "Toronto" for "Britain" and "Canadians" for "British".


From The Scarboro Heights Record V5  #1