In 1897, Minister of Interior Clifford Sifton visited Bukovina and Galicia in a campaign intended to encourage peasants to come to Canada. Member of the recently formed Liberal government (1896) which had pledged to populate Canada’s West and transform it into the country’s granary, he had a clear depiction of the required immigrants: When I speak of quality I have in mind, I think, something that is quite different from what is in the mind of the average writer or speaker upon the question of Immigration. I think a stalwart peasant in a sheep-skin coat, born on the soil, whose forefathers have been farmers for ten generations, with a stout wife and a half-dozen children, is good quality.
“La Canada! La Canada” (to Canada) answered Metro, a young lad of nine, when asked where the family was going. He and his mother were filling some buckets with water at the village well in Boian, Bukovina, in March 1899. Metro had heard his people talking about a far away land called Canada. His parents had decided to leave their home and emigrate. Preparations were well underway for departure.
The land and railroad agents from Canada had done their work well. They had visited Cernauti and had painted glowing pictures of the New World. Word had filtered down to the villages included Boian. The inhabitants began discussing the disadvantages and advantages of making such a major move. Some said that “Cainii umbla cu colaci pe coada si nuclei asa sunt de mari ca poti sa le arunci in pod cu furca”. (The dogs run around with bread rings on their tails. The walnuts are so large that you can pitch them into the hayloft by the forkful). The advantages outweighed the disadvantages and many decides to emigrate.
The typical passage of the peasants and their families had them set off in carts from Boian to Cernauti station, from where they took the train to Hamburg. Embarked on passenger steamships or cattle boats, they arrived in Halifax, and then crossed Canada by train to Winnipeg, whose Immigration Hall functioned as the gateway to the West. From there they travelled to their destination by whatever means available: trains, wagons, horses, or by foot.
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