Give me your farmers!

Canada's immigration policy may have been restrictive in the 19th century, in the decades before World War I the call for labour forces, especially farmers, became increasingly louder. Insofar that the Canadian immigration agent in Antwerp presented his country with slogans like “Good harvests, healthy climate, few taxes and free schools”. Still, some settlers were more welcome than others, but Belgians were classified as "preferred class of immigrants".

From 1890 through the 1930s some 30,000 Belgians opted for a new life in the "Last Best West". Many more preferred the United States and the real immigration boom to Canada would occur after the Second World War. Yet when two Belgians travelled in Canada in the summer of 1929, they found plenty of compatriots. Louis Varlez, lawyer and professor of sociology, and his nephew Lucien Brunin, from Ghent were on their way to a conference in Kyoto, Japan by way of North America. They had plenty of time to observe and comment on migration and labour issues in various regions. The correspondence and photos taken by Varlez during their trip are preserved by Liberas. Here is a selection of Belgian migrants in Canada.