The Irish in Ontario: A Study in Rural History
For most of the nineteenth century, the Irish formed the largest non-French ethnic group in central Canada and their presence was particularly significant in Ontario. This study presents a general discussion of the Irish in Ontario during the nineteenth century and a close analysis of the process of settlement and adaptation by the Irish in Leeds and Lansdowne township.
Akenson argues that, despite the popular conception of the Irish as a city people, those who settled in Ontario were primarily rural and small-town dwellers. Though it is often claimed that the experience of the Irish in their homeland precluded their successful settlement on the frontier in North America, Akenson's research proves that the Irish migrants to Ontario not only chose to live chiefly in the hinterlands, but that they did so with marked success. Akenson also suggests that by using Ontario as an "historical laboratory" it is possible to make valid assessments of the real differences between Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics, characteristics which he contends are much more precisely measurable in the neutral environment of central Canada than in the turbulent Irish homeland.
While Akenson is careful not to over-generalise his findings, he contends that the case of Ontario seriously calls into question conventional beliefs about the cultural limitations of the Irish Catholics not only in Canada but throughout North America.
Donald Harman Akenson is professor of history at Queen's University and the author of numerous books on Irish history, includingIf the Irish Ran the Worldand the acclaimedConor: A Biography of Conor Cruise O'Brien. His most recent book is the groundbreakingSurpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds.
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aggregate agricultural American Anglican Appendix Archives of Ontario Assessment Data behaviour born in Canada Brockville Recorder Canada West census census data Church clergy reserves cultural early economic emigration factory Famine farmers Females 16 Females under 16 front of Leeds Gananoque River Gowan historians indicates individuals industrial Ireland Irish Catholics Irish diaspora Irish ethnicity Irish immigrants Irish migrants Irish Protestants Irish-born Joel Stone John Johnstown district Jones Kingston labourers Lansdowne and Leeds Lansdowne township Leeds and Grenville Leeds and Lansdowne Leeds county Leeds township livestock London loyalist Males 16 Males under 16 manuscript census migration militia nineteenth century occupational Ontario History Orange percent place of birth political Presbyterians province Queen's University Queen's University Archives rear of Leeds religious rural settlement settlers skilled social society Stone papers sub-infeudation Subtotal tion Toronto Total population town township of Lansdowne township of Leeds United Upper Canada William