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"It's God's mercy I was born a Scotchman, for I do not see how I could ever have been contented to be anything else."
~ Andrew Carnegie [Our Coaching Trip, 1882]
Scottish Concentrations
Scottish Concentrations

According to the 2006 Census, 15.1% of the Canadian population (or 4,719,850 people) identifies itself as having Scottish origins. Seventeen percent of the Ontario population identifies itself as such, with over two million residents claiming Scottish background. Windsor's population, meanwhile, is 8% Scottish, making that the fourth largest ethnic group in the city behind French, English, and Irish.

While Scotland itself harbours a tiny population of five million people, the worldwide population of the Scottish diaspora is six times that amount. Thirty-million people across the globe claim Scottish ancestry: Scotland's mass exodus began in the eighteenth century and remained strong until after the Second World War.

Some of the people who emigrated were destitute, facing starvation at home; the only way to survive was to leave Scotland. Other emigrants were well-established and full of ambition, eager to make names for themselves on the new frontiers of the British Empire. Lowland Scots emigrated in the traditional pattern, in which the men went abroad first and then sent for the women and children once they had established themselves. The Gaelic-speaking Catholic Highlanders, however, moved to Canada as extended families, sometimes emigrating as whole communities. The Scots tended to settle together in communities where they could provide each other with mutual support and assistance. They remained ambivalent about their origins, romanticizing and sentimentalizing the Scotland they had left behind - perhaps because, in part, most of them had no intention of returning home.

Distribution of Scottish-born Settlers
Distribution of Scottish-born Settlers

In Canada especially, the Scots distinguished themselves from other ethnic groups by the rapidity with which they assumed leadership among Canada's businessmen, politicians, and other people of influence in all aspects of society. Pioneers in every Canadian frontier - education, medicine, politics, publishing, finance, etc. - the Scots carved their traditions onto every institution in their new land.

Table 1: Scottish Immigration to Canada

Years No. of Immigrants Years No. of Immigrants
Pre-1815 15,000 1919-1930 191,000
1815-1870 170,000 1930-1945 23,800
1870-1900 80,000 1946-1960 147,000
1900-1918 246,000 1961-1970 76,226

Table 2: Canadians of Scottish Origin

Year Number % of Canadian Population
1871 549,000 15.7
1881 649,000 15.0
1901 800,000 14.8
1921 1,170,000 13.3
1941 1,398,000 12.1
1961 1,894,000 10.4
2006 4,719,850 15.1

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For a Brief overview of Scottish immigration to Canada, consult:
Bumsted, J. M., The Scots in Canada, Canadian Historical Association: Ottawa, 1982
Available from the Windsor Public Library ISBN: 0887980929 Call No. 971.004 BUM
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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and
do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.
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