Francophone identity, migration, intermarriage and World War I

Kris Inwood (University of Guelph)

Kris Inwood is interested principally in the themes of migration, inter-marriage, language, cultural identity and the role of WWI in mobility. The Francophone and Francophone-ancestry populations of Ontario and Western Canada are of particular interest although a comparison of Francophones who remained within Quebec against those who left will be useful.

In each of the research areas, Kris Inwood privileges generalizations based on a longitudinal perspective (i.e., using the entire life-course, over a multitude of individual lifetimes) and patterns that cross generations (e.g., intergenerational social mobility, language retention of children whose parents made different marriage or migration choices). The life outcomes of principal analytical interest for the research below are social status (occupation), earnings and language retention (or acquisition), although any characteristic for which evidence is available may be of interest (including longevity and migration).

The census is the single most important source for the research areas outlined below. The genealogical records, military service records, prison registers and marriage records may also all be useful, in some carefully defined ways, as complements to census data.

Each of the research areas builds on a prior identification of who is Francophone or has Francophone ancestry. The empirical recognition of identity in historical sources is itself a research topic, although in practice it is pursued as a dimension of the topics reviewed below. Migration income levels in Quebec, absolutely and relative to those elsewhere on the continent, varied over time and within the population. Nevertheless, because income was lower in Quebec, there was a persistent tendency for net emigration.

Variation in the intensity of emigration over time and across social groups within Quebec is not yet well understood. Influences such as fertility decline within Quebec, the marked acceleration of employment opportunities elsewhere around 1900 and the social disruption of WWI are likely to be important. It will be useful to distinguish three ‘streams’ – emigration from Quebec and Acadia to Ontario and Western Canada, movements within Ontario and Western Canada (e.g. from Eastern Ontario to Manitoba to locations further West) and migration to the US from locations within Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada. We focus on Ontario, the US Midwest and Western Canada because the study of a fourth stream, movement to New England, is already well underway.

The relevant data here are principally complete count census micro data 1852-1921, although parish registers are needed to identify the origins of the earliest emigrants. Francophones experienced a penalty in the Canadian labour market (in terms of both occupational choice and earnings). Thus, some modelling of the labour market penalty is a first step toward the analysis of who migrates and whether or not migration mitigated (or enhanced) the penalty.

Assessing the consequences of moving requires careful accounting for selectivity of migration and comparison with a control group of those who did not move. We are interested to assess the consequences of moving for social status/occupation, first language of children, religion, marriage partners and those of children, education, and public identification as French-Canadians or Metis. There is particular interest in understanding the consequences of migration for the Francophone labour market penalty and for intergenerational language retention. More broadly, it will be interesting if patterns in Northern Ontario more closely resemble Manitoba or those of Eastern and Southern Ontario.

There has been only limited documentation of the marriage choices of Francophones outside of Quebec. For this crucial question we are able to build on genealogical reconstructions (especially in Manitoba) and the Ontario marriage database developed by Fabio Mendes. A full analysis of inter-marriage requires that evidence of marital unions from census and marriage records be validated with census evidence of individual characteristics before marriage (because couples ‘harmonize’ their characteristics for the marriage act and subsequently). The most fundamental analytical question is why some people married outside their Church or language group, and others did not. What were the trade-offs against other forms of exogamy (social class, geography, age)? In what circumstances did Francophones outside Quebec ‘reach back’ to seek marriage partners in Quebec? There is particular interest in marriages involving First Nations, Indians and Metis in Northern Ontario and the Western provinces.

Ultimately, we want to demonstrate whether marriage to non-Francophones mitigated the Francophone labour market penalty or whether it exposed them to greater discrimination. And the same question arises for the children (and potentially grand-children) of mixed marriages.

Jean Martin’s demonstration of the full extent of military service by Francophones (many already living outside Quebec) points to the importance of determining who served versus who did not (another ‘selection’), the timing of enlistment and the interruptions to Francophone education, emigration and the acquisition of work experience. Pre-war data are needed to understand likely school and work patterns in the absence of war and to identify what kinds of men were most likely to enlist. Analysis of who lived against those who died in the war is already underway. The short-term effects of disrupted work and schooling will be visible in the 1921 census evidence of surviving soldiers (1920 US census for some). Longer term effects can be examined with genealogical data.