On ethnic settler communities (yet another test case): Timothy S. Forest, ‘Defenders of Empire or Agents of Ruin? ‘Hebridean Scot Colonies In British Columbia in the 1920s’, Canadian Historical review, 96, 2, 2015


Abstract: In 1924, the government of British Columbia submitted to the British authorities a proposal that aimed to resettle what it hoped would be thousands of Scottish crofters from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland to work in its fisheries, taking advantage of funding made available by the recently passed Empire Settlement Act (ESA) of 1922. Ostensibly, the province endeavoured to provide a better life for a loyal, yet long-suffering, “British” population, to improve the filial imperial ties that were starting to fray following the First World War, to provide the fishing industry with “white” “British” workers to displace its largely Asian workforce, and to introduce a “martial race” to defend its shores. Yet, this scheme was abandoned in late 1925. In private, officials in Canada doubted that the Hebrideans could ever be rehabilitated, as the scheme and the ESA envisioned. Employers saw the Hebrideans as effete and lazy rather than as ready-made militiamen and continued to employ the Asians who they saw as superior workers. Labourers feared that the Hebrideans would undercut their wages and lower their elevated status as “white” and “British,” one that they and the province had carefully cultivated since its foundation. Lastly, the liminal status of the Hebridean Scots reflected and was part of the broader ambivalence of Canada’s place in the evolving British Empire/Commonwealth of the 1920s, one that embraced the imperial tie yet also oftentimes sought greater autonomy from it.

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