Population Problems

Population 15-19 at beginning of decade

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Population 15-19 at beginning of decade

Migrants 15-24 during decade

Annual percentage migration of men coming of age

(2) x .5





































Total 1871-1951




The ratios average about 48 per cent. In other words, one farm boy out of two leaves his county between the ages of 15 and 34. The smaller numbers leaving in the first decade 1871-81 may be due to the filling up of the counties or it may be an error, since our Estimate 2 shows a much larger number in this decade. After this, the per cent leaving is fairly level at about 50 from 1881 to 1931. During the 30's, there was a drop which constitutes the backing up of population on the farms a due to lack of jobs in industry.

[p. 83]

Miner's description of the family cycle has often been referred to. It will be quoted again here in interpreting the figures of the outflow from farms : « ...By the time the young couple have been married eight years, they have had five children, one of whom had died. The eldest child is seven years old, the youngest a babe in arms. The family cycle is so regular that native expression gives voice to such a remark as “He is just a young man. He has only four or five children.” ...In eight more years the father is forty-two and the couple has had ten children, three of whom have died. The eldest sons are helping in the field, and there is no labor problem. By this time the father has begun to think seriously of plans for the future of his children, for whom he is responsible. He will ultimately have to arrange for six children. Obviously, one of these, a boy, will inherit the parental land ... When the young man inherits, the cycle recommences 6. »

Miner sums up the outlooks of the ten children : « ... four die before reaching twenty-five years ; one inherits the paternal land ; one marries a farmer ; and one (if a boy) enters priesthood, or profession, or (if a girl) enters convent, becomes a school teacher, or marries a professional man. There are still three children unaccounted for. The father, during his management of the farm, although passing on the responsibility to his successor in the latter's first years, tries to buy another farm or save the money for a son to get a farm somewhere. A local informant estimated that one-quarter gives the boy some technical training or sends him to cities or industrial centers where he can get work 7. »

It is from among the three children unaccounted for that the migrants must come. Miner later refers to the unmarried population of the parish : men in this unmarried population may become hired hands to help families at the stage of the cycle where the siblings of the inheritor have left and his children are not yet old enough to take part in farm work.

These statements seem broadly consistent with our calculation of about 50 per cent of young men leaving the county of their birth and a young man leaving each farm every 20 years. However, ours is an average, not a typical, figure ; it takes in farms which [p. 84] have no children at all ; it includes all farms, English as well as French. Allowance for these and other crudities awaits further analysis.


Retour à la table des matières

Our third section follows the men who left farms to enter the factories and other urban economic activity. Much scholarly work has been done on this topic, including useful interpretation of available statistics. The encouragement and example of Professor Everett-C. Hughes have resulted in such studies as those of Roy and Jamieson, and students of the Laval Faculty of Social Sciences have studied specific industries.

The fundamental treatment of the division of labour between French and English is by Professor Hughes himself 8. He considers a factory not only as the site of a process of production, but as a social system as well. This means that the notion of « qualification » for the job must be extended to include other items than mere technical competence. If qualification actually meant technical competence only, if the directors of an enterprise acted in robot-like fashion to maximize profits, each time a vacancy occurred, they would consider all candidates offering themselves at the given salary, they would have them arranged exactly in order of skill at the specific work, and would pick the top one from the list. This conception of the method of selection is itself a product of culture, and however much we all subscribe to the culture which prescribes it as the ideal, sociologists must attempt a more descriptive statement, an objective examination of the choices which are not purely objective in the profit-maximizing sense.

The qualifications begin of course with the technical knowledge which is gained in schools ; they also involve the experience gained on the job as well as such qualities as initiative and reliability of performance. Finally, they include what is implied by the need to fit into a social organization. For some posts, as Professor Hughes points out, the criteria of selection may include that the appointee be of such background that he can be safely and com-[p. 85] fortably entertained at dinner. For other posts, such social qualifications are not important. When the confidence of management is primary to the job, the appointee tends ethnically to resemble management. When it is the confidence of staff that is primary to the job, the appointee resembles staff. The suitability of a person is then not established once, for all purposes, but in a series of stages, of separate gestures, for example in the form of promotions, each of which constitutes, in Hughes' words, a « vote of confidence. » These are some of the factors which operate in our bi-cultural industrial situation.

The existing studies which generalize to Quebec or the city of Montreal 9 show the consequent division of labour at the 1931 census. It was one in which « the French Canadians are, as French human geographers would say, the passive element in the human geography of this region. The English are the active, episodic, catastrophic element... 10 » My interest here is the division of labour between French and English in Canada as a whole, and I have used the 1941 census to see what change took place through the 1930's.

The news on the 1930's can be discussed in the great detail of 400 occupation classes. Table 8 is confined to highlights. In transport, for example, the railway running trades, in which the French have not been well represented, showed little change between 1931 and 1941. French chauffeurs and taxi drivers, on the other hand, who already constituted 42 per cent of the occupation, moved up to 44 per cent ; French truck drivers from 24 per cent to 30 per cent ; French messengers from 24 per cent to 38 per cent. In commercial occupations, the per cent of storekeepers who were French showed little change, but the French increased relatively as sales clerks and diminished as commercial travellers.

The professional services are of central interest. Among chemists and engineers, there was no appreciable change in the proportion French, while the traditional fields of doctor, lawyer, notary and

[p. 86]



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