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 skilled 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, low taxes and free schools”. Still, even then 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 tried their luck in the "Last Best West". Many more preferred the United States and the real migration boom to Canada would only occur after the Second World War. Yet when two Belgians travelled across Canada in the summer of 1929, they met many compatriots who found a new home and life. Louis Varlez, lawyer and professor of sociology, and his nephew Lucien Brunin 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 social issues in the various regions they travelled. The correspondence and photos captured by Varlez on their trip are preserved by Liberas.

Marc Haegeman/Liberas