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Restricted Immigration

Canada was decades away from the proudly pluralistic society that it was to become. Hostility to Jews was widespread, common among government bureaucrats, and found its most virulent voice in rural, Catholic Quebec on which the government counted heavily for re-election. Across the country, Jews were denied educational, professional and residential opportunities. Universities had quotas on Jewish admission and restrictive covenants prevented Jews and other “objectionable” groups from living in certain communities.

In May-June 1939, the S.S. St. Louis, a ship carrying 937 European Jews seeking refuge from Nazi persecution, was turned away from Cuba and the United States. The refugees’ plight compelled influential non-Jewish Canadians to appeal to Prime Minister Mackenzie King to show “true Christian charity” and permit them entry. Canada’s Director of the Immigration Branch of the Department of Mines and Resources, Frederick Charles Blair, responded that no country could “open its doors wide enough to take in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who want to leave Europe: the line must be drawn somewhere.”

A dossier of images about antisemitism and immigration. Dossier

A collection of images relating to antisemitism and immigration.

From Refugees to Internees
in the classroom


From Refugees to Internees
Students learn about Britain’s classification of refugees from Nazism as “enemy aliens” by engaging with documentary sources, and with internee video testimony about their arrest and internment in England.


Fragile Roots
“Enemy Aliens”


“Do’s and Don’ts for Refugees”
“Refugee from Nazi Oppression Certificate” (160Kb PDF)
“Application for Consideration by Joint Recruiting Board” (225Kb PDF)


“Collar the Lot”

Complete Teachers’ Guide to Enemy Aliens
PDF 7.8 MB

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