Prevalence and Patterns of Intermarriage in Canada, 1871 and 1971
Previous chapters have demonstrated that Canada has been shaped by immigration, fertility differences, changes in marital behaviour, and the population distribution across the country in the process of its continuing industrialization and urbanization. The objective of this chapter is to examine the prevalence and patterns of intermarriage in Canada at the time of the 1871 and 1971 censuses. It is known that both ethnic and religious intermarriage increased in Canada between 1921 and 1971 ( Kalbach 1983:196-212). Ethnic differentials in patterns of intermarriage and between generations were also noted in virtually every study of intermarriage. Furthermore, religion was found to inhibit marital assimilation by reinforcing ethnic endogamy for most groups. In addition, assimilation theory points to the importance of the multidimensional nature of ethnicity, including cultural origin and religion. The two are so closely intertwined that each has some effect on the other.
Four questions arise from these findings. In the first place, what were the patterns of ethnic intermarriage that prevailed in the early years of Confederation? Second, is there a substantially greater general tendency toward intermarriage in the twentieth century? A positive answer to the second question is expected, especially in view of the fact that length of residence tends to be positively associated with increases in marital assimilation. Third, what were the differentials in the rates between ethnic groups in each century and between the two different periods of time? Fourth, was religion an apparent inhibitor of marital assimilation in both centuries? It is expected that it did in fact operate to limit intermarriage to a less extent in 1971. A multidimensional definition of ethnicity will be employed to answer this question.