Ethnic Groups and Marital Choices: Ethnic History and Marital Assimilation in Canada, 1871 and 1971


Since the late nineteenth century, the rate of intermarriage between members of different European ethnic and cultural groups in Canada has increased and resulted in a gradual blending of these communities. This book, the first detailed comparative study of ethno-religious intermarriage, provides the background for understanding the dynamics of intermarriage in a culturally pluralistic society like Canada. Using, for the first time, data from the 1871 Census of Canada in conjunction with data from the 1971 Census, Madeline Richard delineates the general patterns of ethnic intermarriage in 1871 and 1971 and specifically considers the trends for the English, Irish, Scotch, French, and Germans. Choosing a number of characteristics, such as level of literacy, nativity, age, and place of residence, for the husbands, the author determines the odds for their marrying outside their communities. She also examines the socio-demographic characteristics, such as group size, sex ratio, per cent urban, and level of literacy of each group to determine the marriage patterns of the husbands. Richard's findings confirm that marital assimilation was occurring to some extent as early as 1871 and that the rate of intermarriage has doubled since then. Of particular interest are the major shifts exhibited by Irish, Scottish, and German husbands, who in 1871 overwhelmingly married within their community, while in 1971 they typically found their mates outside. This book is not only about marital patterns; it is also about the ethnic groups themselves. It gives detailed descriptions of the English, Irish, Scottish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Scandinavian, Ukrainian, and other groups -- their immigration history, settlement patterns, and socio-demographic characteristics as these all have some bearing on patterns of mate selection.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Vancouver, B.C.
Publication year:
  • 1991


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