- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 30 Nov 1911, p. 73-85
- MacMillan, Rev. J.W., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- First, a consideration of the drift of population cityward, a phenomenon that began practically with the nineteenth century, a phenomenon that is responsible for most of the great cities of earth. Some statistics of increases and decreases in urban and rural population in the United States and Canada. The diversity in birth rates between Ontario and Quebec. Reasons for this drift. Isolation as the key note of the social situation; too many people too close together in the city, making congestion the key not there. The lack of planning in the growth of these cities. Lines from Tennyson about city life. Comments about life in New York being compared with Dante's "Inferno" from Prof. Devine in his book "Causes of Misery." An examination of what kind of home a family lives in. The housing problem. The need for an awakening of public opinion. The tenement problem. Reasons why the apartment block is a very popular dwelling-place in Canada. The building of apartment blocks in Winnipeg. What we can learn from the Tenement House Law that New York passed in 1901. The Tenement House Act in Manitoba. The matter of immigration. Reasons to believe that immigration is going to increase. Factors which influence the numbers of immigrants. The political danger from these people. Danger with respect to criminality from the first native born generation of the foreigner. The influence of immigration upon population. How immigration displaces the native stock, with an example from the United States. What this means for Canada. The duty of international hospitality. The lack of need to be so much afraid. The Canadian of the future.
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- 30 Nov 1911
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- Full Text
- PROBLEMS OF POPULATION
An Address by Rev. J. W. MACMILLAN, D.D., Minister of St. Matthews Church, Halifax, N.S., before the Empire Club of Canada, November 30, 1911.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,-
An American Colonel who had a negro attendant with him on a fishing expedition once ran short of small change and asked his negro friend if he could change for him a $5 bill. The negro said, "No sah, I can't change it, but I am much. obliged to you all the same for the compliment."
Now I do not claim that I am able to stand side by side with the distinguished gentlemen who, I know, have addressed the several sessions of your Club, but I should like you to believe that an old Ontario boy, a man that took his college course, at least, in Toronto; one that is intensely interested in the progress of this city and the way in which its progress is related to the progress of Canada and of the British Empire as a whole, feels himself complimented when he is invited to address you this afternoon.
My topic is "Problems of Population," a subject something like the land we belong t6; so wide one cannot possibly roam over it in a little while. And so h shall beg leave to select two of these problems, and then to inter-select again several phases of these two problems in order that I may occupy the half hour that is allotted to me.
And first, let us consider this drift of population cityward, a phenomenon that began practically with the, nineteenth century, a phenomenan that is responsible for most of the great cities of earth, whether in America or Europe or Asia. Hong Kong and Tokio and Calcutta, as Berlin and Vienna and Paris
and London, as New York and Chicago and Philidelphia and St. Louis, as Montreal and Winnipeg and, Toronto, all owe their size to the operation of these modern industrial forces which have made them what: they are and which it would appear will continue the, process so that the movement will be increasingly from! the country to the city. When the nineteenth century opened, only four percent of the population of the United States lived in the cities; when the century closed 33 percent lived in cities. The country population of the United States increased 12 times in the century, the city population of the United States increased 87 times in the century. In the year 1901, 20 percent of the people of Canada lived in the cities, drawing the line between the cities and country where it is usually drawn, at a population of 8,000. Ten years later, that 2p percent had grown to 28 percent. Or if we draw the line where the census statisticians draw it, at a population of 4,000, we have in Canada at the present time 32 percent of our population living under urban conditions. And yet we call ourselves an agricultural community!
In the past ten years the population of Ontario increased 336,000, but the rural population of Ontario in the same time decreased 8,000. In Quebec it was different. There the entire gain was about 352,000, and of that 80,000 was in the country, a very considerable part of the reason for the difference being in the diversity between the birth rate in Ontario and in, Quebec. Now, gentlemen, there are deep and probably ineradicable causes. The application of machinery to agriculture, the development of our great factory systems, and the wonderful transportation systems, as I have suggested, have not only brought this about but will continue to increase the impetus which moves the people from the country to the city. Moreover, most of these immigrants are not unwilling exiles, such people as Goldsmith describes in his "Deserted Village," but come with a hop, a skip, and a jump from the village to the city; and wild horses, once they have been thoroughly rooted in the city, would not drag them back again. You might have a nickel show on the township corner, and an ice-cream soda fountain in the farmhouse kitchen, and yet they would turn their backs upon these exciting attractions and return to the delightful city again. It is a great question, that question of the isolation of dwellings, and the drudgery of country life. The Roosevelt Commission has faced it in the United States, and we shall have to face it in Canada, if we are going to continue on our land people who shall be up to the status of what we call Canadian ideals, social, political, economic, and ethical. But it is not the question which I wish to call your attention to today. Rather this other question, that there are too few people, and these too far apart in the country, that isolation is the key note of the social situation; and there are too many people too close together in the city, and congestion is the key note there. These cities have grown; like Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin, they have "just growed," and that is about all that can be said about them.
Lines that Tennyson wrote years ago are literally applicable probably to every city of considerable size upon this earth
Is it well that while we range with science, glorying in our time,
City children soak and blacken soul and sense with city slime ?
There among the glooming alleys progress halts on palsied feet,
Crime and hunger cast our maidens by the thousands on the street,
There the master scrimps his haggard seamstress of her daily bread,
There the single sordid attic holds the living and the dead,
There the smoldering fire of fever creeps across the rotted floor,
And the crowded couch of incest in the warrens of the poor.
Professor Devine in his book upon the Causes of Miserv institutes a comparison between New York and Dante's Inferno as to the relative amount of misery in the two places. He says that the Inferno has no advantage over New York in the degree of misery which it describes, because human nature suffers to the last possible point of endurance in New York. He says that New York has an infinitely larger number of sorts of suffering than are described in the Inferno. The only difference in favour of New York is, that above the entrance of the Inferno is the inscription "All hope abandon ye who enter here," and there is still hope for New York.
Now, gentlemen, in the polygamy of social ills that breed so many social distempers in our city,-drunkenness and vice and poverty and unemployment, uncompensated accidents and all these other things that cohabit together' to produce such an abominable lot of evils in our cities-one of the most important is the house. What kind of a home does a family live in? That, as much as anything else, determines what kind of family that is, and when we come to this home or this housing problem we find it dividing itself into two parts, the one, in very simple and western language we may call the shack problem, and one of the gentlemen who is, I believe, a member of this club, Dr. Hastings, has contributed as much, if not more than anybody in Canada, to the enlightenment of the public upon this question. The great question after all in the solution of this problem is the awakening of public opinion. In the limited time that falls to me today, I wish to draw your attention to the other phase and, as it seems to me, in regard to the future the more important, and at the same time, gentlemen, the less understood and the less considered problem of housing, and that is the tenement problem. Now, a tenement is not a building that is stuck up in a ramshackle way on one of the streets in the lowest ward of the city. The dictionary definition of a tenement is, that it is a building where two or more families carry on independent house-keeping under one roof. That distinguishes it from boarding-houses, business blocks, and hotels, and includes within it all kinds of apartment blocks. There are tenements of excellent description, and there are tenements that are of anything but, an excellent description; and you know in the streets of New York, when you look down mile upon mile of these canyons, as it were,-as though somebody had brought Kicking Horse Canyon there and straightened it out, and polished it off a little at the corners-mile after mile looking north and south, and mile after mile looking east and west, tenement after tenement upon each side of the street, we have a prediction of the kind of thing we are sure to get to some extent in certain districts of the cities of Canada. There are several reasons why the apartment block is a very popular dwelling-place in Canada. It is a place where one gets warmth without the trouble of attending to a furnace, and it is a place whose conveniences help us to solve one of our greatest social problems, and that is the problem of domestic help within the home. Now, it has been found necessary in the city of NewYork to regulate the building of these places; it has been found, for instance, that they must be restrained from occupying more than a certain percentage of the lot upon which they stand; it has been band that they must be of no greater than a certain proportion of height to the street upon which they face, they must have no dark rooms in them. There are already in New York 360,000 dark rooms, used almost exclusively as bedrooms, rooms without light, with very inadequate ventilation. These are the rooms where the children are born, where the invalids lie sick, and no more are being built there. There must not be the nuisance of the common toilet; there must not be the deadly airshaft, closed at the bottom and top; there must not be fire escapes that are useless in the time of the panic of fire.
Now in Winnipeg three years ago, and I speak, frankly about that, because the end of the story is greatly to Winnipeg's credit, they were building apartment blocks named the Belvedere, and Chateau this and' Chateau that, and it was accounted somewhat in the climbing of the social ladder that one moved out of the detached dwelling and got into the apartment house. They were building them not as they had commonly clone in New York on 9o per cent. of the lot, but on too per cent., so that when a man who owned the next lot built a tenement house, and the man that owned the rear of the lot built one, light and air would be excluded from this building. They had in them all these abominations-a narrow air shaft without ventilation, the common toilet, and the dark interior-and yet the people of the city as a whole knew not but they were getting some modern kind of palace; they would point these out as the signs of true progress with justifiable pride to visitors from the east, as though some magician had waved his wand over the city and there had sprung up these Arabian Nights' dwellings. But when they found out what these things meant, and that these were houses that were condemned in modern enlightened communities, such as I won't say Toronto--oh no; I wouldn't- make this speech today if Toronto were modern and enlightened in this particular-but in communities where the evil had gone so far that they had been forced to recognize it in their death rate. The Tement House Law that New York passed in 1901 very speedily cut the death rate from 28 to 18 percent and thus New Yorkers were forced to recognize what, if we, pay for our experience in Canada, it will take us years to recognize. It is experience that teaches fools, and we Canadians are by no means men of that class. In Manitoba today they have a good Tenement House Act that forbids all these dangerous things, and I understand that there is no similar Tenement House Act in any other province of Canada. Now, it is difficult for one to know precisely what there is in every province, but I take it from the Labour Gazette published a few months ago that the Manitoba Tenement House Law is the 'only one of precisely its description. There are building by-laws that approximate it, but I am speaking today in the hope we may all be awakened to the necessity of our- bringing some social control to bear upon the way in which this inevitable city drift organizes and operates upon our population, and that we should desire and endeavour, as far as possible, to maintain and increase a vigorous rural and suburban population. Where that is impossible, as frequently it is. we should endeavour to sustain the detached separate dwelling in place of the tenement house. Mr. Lawrence Veiller, Secretary of the New York Tenement House Commission, has said that "democracy was not predicated upon a nation of tenement dwellers, nor can democracy so survive." But if we must have tenement houses, let us have tenement houses that are agreeable to a standard of living. For we ought to require,' should we not, in our Imperialism and Canadianism, that in this land of sunshine and fresh air, this land of broad spaces, this land of opportunity, that every child born should have enough air to breathe, should have enough light to read by in the lighter hours of the day, and should have opportunities that shall provide for him a reasonable amount of comfort and of decency, and should have them continued during his life.
Now let me, gentlemen, take the other matter and that is the matter of immigration. And one peculiar phase of it is, that in the ten years that ended in 19or we received in Canada 223,000 emigrants; in the ten years that have ended in 1911 we received 1,800,000 emigrants; in the year which ended on the first of April, 1911, we received 311,000; that is, we received more in the year 1910-11, mostly in the year 1910, than was received in the whole ten years between 1890 and 1900. One may say in fact that our immigration began with the beginning of the century. We may reasonably believe it is going to increase. We have now over a million immigration agents at work, and they are working much more effectively in Canada than in Europe. Johann Johannson out on the shores of Lake Winnipegosis writes to Ole Oleson in some place in Norway that there is all the free land he wants over here, and work at $2 a day, and Ole Oleson writes to Johann Johannson to borrow enough money to bring himself and his family to Canada, and Sergius Buckowitlz writes to his cousin in the Carpathians in the same way. That is why it is, when we have good times we have increased immigration; that is why it is, in the first nine months of 1907, a million and a quarter emigrants entered the port of New York in the United States, and in the last three months, when the Knickerbocker Trust Company busted and other things happened down there, a quarter of a million actually went out of the United States and returned to Europe. That is why it was, that we received at our ocean ports in the year that ended the 1st of April, r908, over 200,000. immigrants and in the succeeding year only 80,000. It was not by any means because they were more carefully selected, it was because Sergius Buckowitlz and Ole Oleson had written home to their cousins that times were bad here, that wages were not so high. '
Emigration brings to our national stomach some indigestible elements, ignorance and crime and insanity, although we are very apt to overrate their quantity. When one reads that in Ontario 20 percent of the population is foreign born, while 30 percent of asylum population is foreign born and 38 percent of the jail population is foreign born, one must not too readily conclude that the foreign born are more prone to insanity and crime than the native born. We must remember this: that the criminal and insane are almost entirely recruited from the adult population, but whereas our normal population is almost equally composed between male and female it is not so with the emigrant; 100 men come, on the whole, to 37 women.
But I would like rather to tell you this, that we are in great danger politically from these people. Now, I am no politician, and there are gentlemen here today that do not require to learn any lessons in the matter of politics from any clergyman, but I do know the way some votes are worked out in the west. I know how a young foreigner-perhaps his name ends in "stein," and perhaps it does not, will come to the manager of some candidate for the mayoralty or the Provincial Legislature or the Dominion Parliament and say, "See here, there are a number of us young men, and we want to vote for your candidate; we like him, we know he is fair to us, and we like the things for which he stands, and I am sure I can see that all these votes will be given; only, the other fellow, he is trying to get these votes; he is buying cigars and beer and holding meetings, If you would give me $50 or $100, I could buy some cigars and some beer and I could rent a hall and I could fight this devil with fire and hold these men true to their principles." Well, if he gets the money, I don't know how much of it goes for beer, cigars, and,, hall' rent, and I don't know how much goes into his own pocket, but I should like to say for the West (I am very fond and proud of the West, for I spent a good -portion of my life there), I want to say we don't buy foreign votes out there at all the way people think we do, because -we don't need to, because we can get them so much cheaper. A boss of a gang in Winnipeg, for instance, once said-and I think he told the truth, for I know the man well enough to believe he would tell the truth-he changed forty votes in one day by telling that gang, if they voted for so-and-so, he would cut their wages down a dollar a day. Now, so-and-so hadn't anything to do with their wages, either cutting down or increasing, but how did these foreigners know that? And yet, gentlemen, we give them votes.
But, our danger in respect to criminality is rather with the first native born generation of the foreigner I spoke of, It is with the boy that is born in Canada and that has learned to despise his parents, and that is brought up in such an environment in the city, perhaps in the congestion caused by the overcrowding in his house, with the temptations of the street to meet him.
He despises his parents because lie learns English sooner than they do; he has to do the buying at the store; he is the interpreter when any visitor comes; he stands between the peasant ignorance of his parents and this new bewildering environment that is about them; be is constantly being placed in an attitude of superiority toward his parents, and so he despises their advice, and their advice that would have been valuable and would have controlled that child's conduct under peasant conditions in the old land controls it no longer.
He gets playing tag with other boys on the street and with the policeman on the street, and after a while be gets playing tag with the laws of Canada. That is the greater danger, and it has been figured out for some parts of the United States that the first Generation of the foreign born develop 70 percent more criminality that the same Generation of the old native stock.
The last thing I wish to direct your attention to is the influence of immigration upon population:. The common notion that the emigrants that come to a country are a net increase to the population in the country is a-very grave mistake. Men like Robert Hunter, the author of the work on Poverty, one of the greatest authorities on the questions of population in America, makes the statement,-I venture to say it is not entirely true, it requires qualification, but it may emphasize( what I am seeking to point out now, when I quote his name as being one that does make this statement,he says immigration does not add at all to the native stock; he says it displaces the native stock. And General Francis A. Walker, who until his death a year ago was the statistician of the United States, said the same thing. He said immigration meant replacement of the native by the foreign element, and certainly before; immigration began to come to the United States-it is the only country where Canada can find a parallel-the population was growing at a considerable rate. Between 1790 and 1830 the population of the United States increased? from four to thirteen millions and in all that time they received only 250,000. immigrants, a very small number indeed. It was calculated in the year 1810 that the population of the United States by natural increase would be at the end of the nineteenth century 100,000,000. Now, in place of that, though during the century they had received 20,000,000 immigrants, and they or their descendants remained in the country, the population in 1900 was only 76,000,000. What had happened? They say the decline of the birth rate of the United States stock began when the immigrant began to come, about 1830. When immigration came, as a result the then native birth rate dropped. They say that in New England, where 100 years ago the birth rate was the highest in the United States, where on the whole the immigrants have settled as much or more than anywhere else, the birth rate of the native stock is the lowest in the United States. They say that in the south where immigration has not touched, the birth rate has continued steady through that whole century. There is no doubt that though there are other forces operating, as in Australia where the birth rate has dropped with very slight immigration if any, still the forces of immigration coming into a country, because they always bring in a population beneath, as it were, has the effect of destroying the birth rate. In Boston in 18io the manual labour work on; the street, the digging of canals, and all the hardhanded physical labour was done by native Puritans of as good stock as anybody else. Then came in the Irish, and the Irish began to do; this work because they worked cheaper than the Puritans would; they would live cheaper and work cheaper. Then, the New Englander ceased to breed, his family became small, and the New Englanders became the, clerks and accountants in the offices, took jobs where they didn't soil their hands, and the Irish dug the, ditches and worked on the boulevard. After the Irish' came the Italian and took the job from the Irishman,, and the Irishman became the boss of the Italian gang, and sometimes he went into politics, but in any case hiss family, like the Puritan family, became small. Then under the Italian came the Slav, (the Hunkey as they call him, although he is not a Hungarian), and the Bohemian and the Roumanian and the Russian and all these, and the Italian family lessened in number; and as each grade of population came in underneath it had this effect, because the only people that are breeding on the earth today are the primitive or the semi-primitive people. The standard of living determines it. You will find in Africa and in savage countries large families; you will find in the slums of the great cities, where conditions are similar, large families. In Quebec, where there is no savagery or anything like it, still the conditions approach that primitive condition; you find a very high birth- rate there: But when the day comes that they want to have pianos in their farmhouses and fine curtains in their living rooms, and raise the standard of their living to a somewhat more comfortable plane, you will find that the birth rate will drop off.
Now, gentlemen, what does that mean for Canada? I don't know all that it means, but it means at least that we ought to face this fact, that the typical Canadian of ' the year 2000 A.D. will certainly be a very different kind
of man from that which the typical Canadian is today; and we ought, if we are going to attempt to understand and to engineer the operations of the coming 100 years, to reckon with that fact. I don't think any member of the Empire Club will want to avoid the duty of international hospitality. I don't think he will want to go back upon those principles that sent the flag flying across the waves to put down piracy or slavery, or upon the same principles which received the Huguenots or the distressed that came knocking at the doors of Great Britain for shelter; and while we believe every nation should carry its own burden of disease and ignorance and crime, while we believe we have a right to shut out the unassimilable Asiatics, still we will maintain an open door to population which comes in its need but does not come bringing disease and crime, that comes and is willing to co-operate with us to explore this unexplored land and to develop this undeveloped land. I think, gentlemen, we may be hopeful for the future. I think if we will consider the past for a while history may not repeat itself, still there are parallels between the past and present-if we should take, for instance, the typical Englishman, who is he after all? There is impressed upon the mind of the world a notion of the characteristic English type which is perhaps more distinctively featured than any other racial type that is known and commonly thought of; and yet who is this Englishman? Is be a Cornishman, is he a Cockney, is he a Northumbrian, is he Devonshire or what is he? Take any one of them, or take one that is a conglomerate; what is there in him? Trace his blood back to his grandparents, his second grandparents, or to his fourth grandparents, or to his eighth great grandparents, or to his sixteenth great grandparents, how rapidly it spreads, until you would think that every person in England a few centuries ago had contributed to his birth. There are so many different races: the prehistoric man of the river drift, the brachycephalic man, the dolichocephalic man, and then we have the Angles and the Saxons, the Danes and the Northmen, and the Normans, and the French, and afterwards many a German, many a French, many a Huguenot element has come in and all have gone to make the modern Englishman. The same is true of Germany; the same is true, if we knew the facts, of every racial or national type there is upon the earth today. The same thing is being accomplished; signs of it can already be seen in some portions of the United States. And the same thing is going to be accomplished in Canada.
I don't think we need be so much afraid. The first generation of immigrants requires protection. As we have seen, we must protect it. The second generation, if we educate it properly, will be much better than the first; and these races beneath that we are afraid of are the races that produced Copernicus and Columbus and Raphael. How little of the artistic is there in 'Canada, and, yet the Arts and Crafts Society is collecting from the foreign colonies out in the west their artistic products, that we of the native stock can only admire and cannot imitate. All these races are going into what is called the melting pot, and this will be stirred, around and around until 100 years hence, when some other man addresses the Empire Club in Toronto, he and they will look quite different from the appearance we present today, and it may be that that future audience and speaker will be even handsomer than we.