Population Increase


The Quebec Act
The War of 1812
The Fur Empire
Timber and Wheat
Population Increase
Little Englandism



After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, a number of factors encouraged large-scale immigration from the British Isles to America. In the 1820s and 1830s the enclosures of rural England and Scotland disorganized the countryside and plunged thousands of agricultural labourers in poverty. Associated with overpopulation in Britain, rumours of economic opportunities in America, and relatively cheap rates of passage on the timber ships, it encouraged immigration. In the 1840s and 1850s, the main push factor was the potato disease in Ireland, which brought a majority of Irish Catholics.


1815 to 1830: 25,000 immigrants from the British Isles came to North America every year.


1830s and 1840s: 100,000 immigrants from the British Isles came to North America every year (2/3 from Ireland). About 50% of these immigrants went to British North America, and 66% of those to Upper Canada.


1850s: about 350,000 immigrants to BNA, but 200,000 left for the US. 


But the increase of the North American population was due above all to the high birth rate, averaging 50 births per thousand, throughout the period. As a result, between the years 1800 and 1842, the population of Upper Canada rose from 40,000 to 500,000, while that of Lower Canada rose from 200,000 to 800,000, and that of the Maritimes rose from 80,000 to 400,000. The population pressure in Lower Canada was strong enough to send thousands of immigrants south to New Hampshire and Massachusetts.