Academic journal article The Geographical Review

American Migration, Settlement, and "Belonging" in Francophone Canada

Academic journal article The Geographical Review

American Migration, Settlement, and "Belonging" in Francophone Canada

Article excerpt

The perception of Canada as a political refuge for disenfranchised "Americans" has existed for centuries (Ortved 2012). (1) But how many people have left the United States for permanent residency in Canada during the past five decades and what push-pull factors have shaped the migration, settlement, and incorporation experiences of this immigrant group? This article investigates these and other related questions within the larger story of Francophone Canada's "Two Solitudes."

Canada is home to the second largest foreign-born population per capita on earth (after Australia). Due to the large size and diverse places of origin of Canada's numerous foreign-born migrants, a significant body of work already has been accomplished on the patterns and processes of the various immigrant and refugee groups there. To date, however, most of this work has focused on "visible immigrants" in Anglophone Canada. Much less attention has been paid to documenting and analyzing the migration flows, spatial patterns, and incorporation experiences of Francophone Canada's foreign-born populations--especially its Anglophone (English-speaking) migrants. (2) Of particular note in this dearth of work is the almost complete lack of attention to Americans who reside in French-speaking communities in Canada. (3) This article helps fill this gap in the scholarly literature.

I begin with a foundational discussion of Montreal's unique "Two Solitudes" and related French-English residential divide. A brief discussion of some of the key factors involved in attracting early migrants from the Colonies/U.S. follows to set the stage for a subsequent comparison of the push-pull factors and settlement patterns of Americans who settled in Montreal during the past five decades. The sense of belonging and incorporation of three distinctive groups of these English-speaking immigrants in this predominately French-speaking city is then situated within Montreal's Anglophone-Francophone divide. In the conclusions that follow, I make a few observations about whether Americans in Montreal serve as a bridge or a barrier to Montreal's lingering "Two Solitudes" and suggest a number of avenues for future research based on the findings of this study.

As shown on the graph in Figure 1 the population of U.S.-born Montreal residents during the past five decades rises and falls within the larger story of the political, cultural, and economic upheavals underway in Francophone Canada following Quebec's Quiet Revolution. This pro-Francophone transformation has resulted in the modernization of Francophone Canada, two "close call" referenda for Quebec's secession from Canada, and strict new requirements for use of the French language in education, business, and politics. In the autumn of 2012, a revitalized period of Quebecois nationalism became visible once again following the election of a strongly pro-Separatist candidate for Quebec premier. Despite the dramatic period of change in Quebec that began in the early 1970s, and the mass exodus of thousands of Anglophones from the city of Montreal that resulted, the city's U.S.-born population continued to ebb and flow--from an all-time high in the late-1960s to early 1970s to a renewed rebound during the first decade of the 21st century.

Significance, Research Questions, Data Sources, and Methods

This research builds on a body of emerging scholarly work on U.S.-Canada borderland migration that has been gaining momentum in recent years. The foundation laid by prior studies of the historical patterns and identities of American migrants in western Canada has been particularly useful in contextualizing the analysis of more recent U.S.-Canada borderland migration that follows (see, for example, Widdis 1997a, 1997b). More recently, a special issue of the International Journal of Canadian Studies published in 2011, drew attention to the importance of the consistently positive relationship between Quebec and the United States over the years (Desrosiers-Lauzon and others 2011; Gilbert, Langlois, and Tremblay 2011; LeBlane 2011). …

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