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Immigration Act, 1910

The Immigration Act of 1910 further enhanced the discretionary powers of government to regulate the flow of immigrants into Canada, reinforcing and expanding the exclusionary provisions outlined in the Immigration Act of 1906.

Under the new act, the list of prohibited immigrants expanded and the governor-in-council (i.e. federal cabinet) was given greater authority to make indiscriminate judgements concerning admissibility and deportation. A new provision specified that the governor-in-council could arbitrarily prohibit the landing of any immigrant deemed “unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada.” Immigrants sponsored by charitable organizations were also excluded, unless they obtained prior written permission from the superintendent of immigration in Ottawa or the assistant superintendent of emigration in London. This condition was prompted by an influx of impoverished British immigrants in 1907, many of whom had received assistance from charitable institutions to facilitate their immigration.[1]

The act also introduced the concept of domicile, or permanent residency, which an immigrant could obtain after residing in Canada for three years. Until domicile was granted, an immigrant could be deported if they became classified as undesirable. Undesirable immigrants included prostitutes, pimps, vagrants and inmates of jails, hospitals and insane asylums. Under the new act, political dissidents advocating for the forceful overthrow of government and those attempting to create public disorder were also subject to deportation.[2]

The responsibilities of the boards of inquiry were broadened and more clearly defined in the Immigration Act of 1910. They were given the authority to make decisions on admissibility as well as deportation, based on any evidence they considered to be credible or trustworthy. To ensure that authority over immigration remained concentrated in the executive branch of government, the act barred courts and judges from reviewing, reversing or otherwise interfering in the decisions of the minister responsible for immigration and the proceedings of the boards of inquiry.[3]

Orders-in-council passed later in the year further enhanced the restrictive immigration policies. All immigrants of Asiatic origin were required to have $200 in their possession before being permitted entry (PC 926, 9 May 1910), while all other immigrants, male and female, were required to have a minimum of $25 upon their arrival in Canada (PC 924 9 May 1910).[4]

Library and Archives Canada. Statutes of Canada. An Act Respecting Immigration, 1910. Ottawa: SC 9-10 Edward VII, Chapter 27

  1. Valerie Knowles, Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-1997 (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1997), 85.
  2. Ninette Kelley and Michael Trebilcock, The Making of the Mosaic: A History of Canadian Immigration Policy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 137.
  3. Kelley and Trebilcock, 137-138.
  4. Knowles, 86.