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Immigrants in Prairie Cities

Immigrants in Prairie Cities: Ethnic Diversity in Twentieth-Century Canada

Royden Loewen
Gerald Friesen
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    Immigrants in Prairie Cities
    Book Description:

    InImmigrants in Prairie Cities, Royden Loewen and Gerald Friesen analyze the processes of cultural interaction and adaptation that unfolded in these urban centres and describe how this model of diversity has changed over time.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9767-6
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
    Royden Loewen and Gerald Friesen
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    Multiculturalism has become an internationally recognized symbol of contemporary Canada. It is often associated with a 1971 federal policy supporting ethnic groups and the expression of heritage cultures, an initiative introduced just as waves of newcomers from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America were remaking the country. Canada’s diversity is also linked to the kaleidoscope of peoples in the country’s largest cities – Vancouver, Montreal, and especially Toronto – and to the writing of novelists and scholars who have worked in these challenging communities.¹ This book discusses another group of cities and a longer span of time to illustrate a different...

  5. Part One Early Century:: Ethnic Webs and Boundary Zones, 1900–1930s

    • chapter one The Ethnic ‘Centre’: Family, Religion, and Fraternity
      (pp. 13-34)

      Early-century immigrants largely were shut out from power, privilege, and wealth in the prairie city. But at the centre of the immigrant’s story was a vital community. In a sense it was an ethnic ghetto, a gathering of people, but it was much more. It was a cultural creation, in the words of anthropologist Clifford Geertz, a ‘web of meaning,’ providing the vocabulary, symbols, and understandings by which life made sense and social action was ordered.¹ This cultural matrix intersected with social networks that linked the German, Ukrainian, Jewish, Italian, Chinese, and other immigrants to their own kind. Such relationships...

    • chapter two Patterns of Conflict and Adjustment in Winnipeg
      (pp. 35-54)

      Newcomers used their ethnicity as a staging ground from which they could enter the wider community and to which they could retreat. The factors that distinguished their ethnic practices might include distinct ways of speaking or distinct types of clothing, and certainly distinct networks of friends. Ethnicity as staging ground was a strategy based on difference. It placed great store on the markers separating the various newcomer communities as well as on the differences between one’s group and the host society. But there were many occasions in daily life when immigrants encountered members of other ethnic communities or, indeed, established...

  6. Part Two Mid-Century:: Urban Cross-Currents and Adaptation, 1940s–1960s

    • chapter three Ethnic Cross-Currents in Mid-Century Alberta and Saskatchewan
      (pp. 57-76)

      Immigrant culture in the mid-century prairie city differed significantly from that of the early-century decades. To a large extent it reflected a cultural mix from two distinctive groups of newcomers. On the one hand were the urbanized and highly educated European refugees of the Second World War and Eastern bloc communism. On the other hand were the children and grandchildren of the early-century immigrants; they were the second-and third-generation farm folk seeking economic survival in the post-war economy. They already knew Canada, its language and customs, and they were welcomed in the cities as participants in the new post-war economy....

    • chapter four Accommodation in Winnipeg
      (pp. 77-98)

      Winnipeg, the oldest and, at mid-century, still the largest prairie city, reflected the dramatic changes in prairie regional identity that occurred between the 1940s and 1960s. Like other prairie centres, it was affected by the exodus from rural districts and the influx of new arrivals from Europe. The newcomers’ impact was not quite the same in Winnipeg as in the other cities, however, because Winnipeg citizens had been dealing with large-scale challenges of just this sort for a half-century. The new arrivals from Europe were joining larger communities of countrymen who knew Canada well. What is more, a new generation...

  7. Part Three Late Century:: Globalization and the Prairie Newcomer, 1970s–1990s

    • chapter five The Global South in Calgary and Edmonton
      (pp. 101-120)

      The last third of the twentieth century marked a rather sudden transformation in Canada’s prairie city. Some changes seemed to link those regional cities more indelibly to the wider nation. As elsewhere in Canada, and now aided oftentimes by provincial legislation, a new message of multicultural inclusion and a government-funded social safety net bolstered a sense of welcome to all, a common cultural citizenship across the land. This culture was propelled by the technological innovation of inexpensive air transportation and electronic ties of affordable long-distance telephone links, television, and, later, the Internet. In this milieu old ideas of periphery and...

    • chapter six Gender and Family in Hybrid Households
      (pp. 121-138)

      In some ways, despite significant economic and demographic changes in the five prairie cities, life within the urban immigrant community changed little over the course of the century. Immigrants still found their bearing in the new land within their own social organizations. As noted in Chapter 5, for example, social networks that included social clubs and religious sites of worship remained significant into the last decades of the century. In fact some studies demonstrate that newcomers invigorated both inner-city and suburban social organizations. Others show how the role of religion remained crucial within a rapidly secularizing society, most apparent in...

    • chapter seven Racism, Anti-Racism, and Race in Winnipeg
      (pp. 139-156)

      By the late-century decades, prairie citizens had grown accustomed to the activities of ethnic cultural networks and to the steady arrival of strangers from other backgrounds. In a number of striking episodes, however, racist incidents broke the surface of urban life. These were isolated events, typically, though they seemed to feed on deeper sentiments. People’s long experience with ethnicity, their mid-century burst of volunteer activism related to immigrant services, and their invention of citywide multicultural festivals combined to combat such expressions of hate. Because citizens responded so calmly to the arrival of newcomers of different heritages and because some challenged...

    • chapter eight Prairie Links in a Transnational Chain
      (pp. 157-174)

      The networks that defined the immigrant worlds in the prairie city grew more complex throughout the late-century decades.¹ During this time the various prairie centres became interwoven into a series of transnational lines connecting the immigrants to familiar and unfamiliar sites around the globe. A globalizing economy and neo-liberal policies overtook what Eric Hobsbawm has referred to as ‘older units such as the “national economies” defined by the politics of territorial states.’² Added to technological innovation, these economic changes meant that newcomers increasingly charted their lives within social and cultural webs that had not just one centre, but two or...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 175-184)

    Cultural diversity in Canada is much more than a government policy or a tourism advertisement; it is an historic reality that varies from community to community and region to region. One of the variations grew out of the experiences of migrants of foreign origin, and their children, in the cities of Canada’s prairie interior. The histories of these communities constitute a noteworthy chapter in the Canadian story of immigration. The cities possessed a particular set of social characteristics: they were relatively small, were situated a considerable distance from ports or large metropolises, and were home to sequential waves of immigration....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 185-222)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-246)
  11. Index
    (pp. 247-257)