Last Updated on July 24, 2017
Immigration authorities plan to admit 300,000 newcomers in 2016 which will represent the highest levels in more than 100 years. Canadian immigration numbers have been consistently high since 1990, but you have to go back a century for the year when the most foreigners were welcomed across the border.
Analysis from Statistics Canada shows 1913 was the most prolific year on record for immigration, with 400,000 newcomers arriving. The highest number in the last decade was 280,000 in 2010.
The top three years on record were those preceding the start of the First World War, when more than 1.1 million arrived as a result of a major government campaign to populate the West Coast of the country.
After significantly low periods caused by both World Wars, other noticeable peaks were a result of political and humanitarian crises.
During 1956 and 1957, 37,500 Hungarian refugees arrived in the country among a total influx of 447,100 over the two years.
Further peaks can be seen in the 1970s and 1980s, when a large number of Ugandan, Chilean, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees came to Canada.
These numbers had a significant impact on the size and proportion of the immigrant population in Canada.
The 2011 census showed 20.6 per cent of the total population was made up of immigrants, a proportion that has been steadily rising since 1950 and consistent with the peaks in the above chart.
Canada’s peak percentage of immigrant population came in 1921, when 22.3 per cent were foreign-born.
Strikingly, the percentage population in 1991 was exactly the same as 1871, the first year for which census data is available, at 16.1 per cent. The real number of immigrants for the two dates was vastly different, with 4.3 million living in Canada in 1991, compared to 594,000 in 1871.
Over the years, the total immigrant population has been dominated by newcomers born in the UK, but that proportion has dropped significantly over the years.
In 1871, more than 80 per cent of new immigrants were British, compared with less than 10 per cent in 2011.
The diversity of immigrants welcomed has moved from almost entirely British and American in 1871, to almost a cross section of the world, as illustrated by 2011’s census.
China and India surpassed the UK as the most significant feeder nations for the first time in 2011, according to the data. Continentally, Asia now dominates those entering Canada as immigrants.
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