Population. – According to Barblejewelry, the population of the dominion at the 1931 census was 10,376,786 residents, With an increase of 1,588,303 individuals compared to the previous one in 1921. All the provinces are experiencing an increase in population except two of the three maritime provinces (Prince Edward Island, which from 88,615 individuals it drops to 88,038; Nova Scotia from 523,837 to 512,846); the two Territories continue to maintain the absolute lowest values, with a slight increase in that of the Yukon (from 4157 to 4230), a little more accentuated that of the NO. (7988 to 9723). The density remains very low (iper sq km), with the highest values in the maritime provinces and the lowest in the prairie and western provinces (Manitoba, Alberta 1.1 residents per sq km, British Columbia 0.7): very depopulated, for obvious geographical reasons and economic, the two Territories.
As regards nationalities, the 1931 census gave the following percentages: 51.1% British and American; 28.2% French; 20.7% other nationalities, mainly represented by Germans (4.5%), Poles, Ukrainians (3.5%), Scandinavians (2.1%), Jews (1.5%), Dutch (1.4%)), Aborigines (1.2%), Italians (0.9%). Compared to the 1921 census, there is a significant decrease in the Anglo-American element, a decrease that is also felt for the previous calculations (57.8% in 1871; 56.8% in 1901; 55.0% in 1921). The French element shows not very notable fluctuations (29.8% in 1871; 30.8% in 1901; 27.9% in 1921; 28.2% in 1931). The Italian element is constantly increasing (from 0.02% in 1871 to 0.80% in 1921, to 0.9% in 1931), although Italian immigration has always been modest, especially when compared with the immigration influx into the neighboring Confederation. The Asian element is on the rise: 22,000 in 1901, 55,000 in 1921, 70,000 in 1931, concentrated almost exclusively in the western section of Canada (British Columbia), especially in large cities.
Between the two censuses of 1921 and 1931 there was a marked increase in Catholics, which rose from 3,389,636 individuals to 4,285,388; much smaller increase is noticed by the Protestants (4,725,778 and 4,964,115 respectively in 1921 and 1931); in sharp decline Orthodox and Israelites.
The population increase in the last five-year period (1931-1935) has remained above 1% but tends to decrease constantly. This decrease is also caused by the progressive restriction of the immigration current: before the world war 384,878 individuals entered the dominion; the pace resumed after 1923, keeping an average of 140-160,000 individuals per year in the period 1926-1930, before falling back to 12,476 in 1934 and 11,277 in 1935. The Italian participation is becoming more and more modest: it was 6.4 % in 1913-14; 2.3% in 1926-1927; 0.4% in 1931; 0.2% in recent years. Alongside the decreased immigration there is also the constant decrease in the surplus rate of births over deaths: it was 16.2% in the period 1921-1925; it drops to 13% in the years 1926-1930; at 11, 7 ‰ in the period 1931-1935. This rate, while remaining much higher than that of the neighboring United States (10.7 ‰, 7.9 ‰, 6.3 ‰ respectively), is far lower than that of the Central American republics. In the imperial context, Canada largely surpasses the motherland, Australia, New Zealand, but is overtaken by the South African Union.
Urbanism continues to be one of Canada’s key demographic characteristics: seven cities exceed 100,000 residents, for a total of 2,328,175 individuals, equal to 22nd of the total population of the state. The absolute maximum values are those of Montreal (818,577 in 1931) and Toronto (631,207); all cities are experiencing significant increases, especially Vancouver, which even doubles its population (from 117,000 in 1921 to 246,593 in 1931). The cities of the maritime provinces remain stationary, as in the case of St John and Halifax.
The world economic crisis of 1929-1933 had a very cruel impact on the Canadian economy, if we consider that the national income, which in 1929 was estimated at 6 billion Canadian dollars, was half in 1933, that is to say just 3 billion Canadian dollars.. This is because Canada, despite the abundance of its natural and agricultural resources, has an extremely rigid economy. In fact, very large areas of Canada are dedicated to the production of a single product. Thus over a large part of the western areas only wheat is grown and in a large part, instead of the northern and central areas, only wood pulp is harvested for paper. Such an economy is therefore very vulnerable during periods of depression, not only because crop deficiencies affect too severely the overall economy. national economy, but also because the products it offers on the world market are essentially inelastic demand and therefore too dependent on the fluctuations of the world economy. The efforts of the rulers of Canada, starting from the mentioned world economic depression, have been aimed at seeking a possible internal economic equilibrium, trying to minimize dependence on other national economies. However, this policy has not actually had substantial results; rather Canada was favored on the path of economic reconstruction by the preferential agreements within the framework of the British Empire, established precisely in its capital, Ottawa, in 1931 and by the trade agreement with the United States, which entered into force on the 1st January 1936.
From the political point of view, the evolution of Canada in the last decade has been very significant, not so much compared to the internal political movements for which while the conservatives headed by RB Bennett were brought to power in the elections of 1930 October 1935 the liberals headed by WL Mackenzie King were brought to power, as for the clarification of the international political situation of Canada towards the British Empire, that is, of its situation of Dominion.
It was in fact in this period, in 1931, that the principle of equality of status and complete autonomy for the constituent parts of the Commonwealth British with regard to domestic and foreign policy enunciated in the Balfour declaration of 1926, acquires concrete value with the adoption of the Statute of Westminster. And it is therefore in this period that the centrifugal tendencies, in respect of the British Empire, of the Canadian nation are considerably vigorous. Two very important factors contribute to these trends: one, the proximity to the United States, for which Canada is increasingly assuming the character of an American nation, independent from Great Britain, and the other its ethnic, social and religious compactness. of the French element in Canada, which in every way opposes the continuation of an “imperial” policy.
The imperial conference, held in London in May 1937, did not change this Canadian trend, as it resulted in an evasive confirmation of a generic imperial solidarity. But, instead, the pro-American currents and that of French Canada continued to manifest themselves, even progressing. With regard to domestic politics it is of some importance to remember that in 1937 the Canadian Supreme Court rejected some economic reform projects devised by Prime Minister Mackenzie King as a means of rebuilding the Canadian economy, thus showing a very remarkable parallelism with politics. internal United States in which Roosevelt’s New Deal economic reform projects were also rejected by their Supreme Court.