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For the 1970s migration of Quebec anglophones to other Canadian provinces, see English-speaking Quebecers.

The Quebec diaspora consists of Quebec emigrants and their descendants dispersed over the North American continent and historically concentrated in the New England region of the United States, Ontario, and the Canadian Prairies. The mass emigration out of Quebec occurred in the period between 1840 and the Great Depression of the 1930s.


United States

Angelina Jolie, French Canadian on her mother's side.

Brought on by the "push" of overpopulation in rural areas that could not sustain themselves under the seigneurial system of land tenure, but also because the expansion of this system was in effect blocked by the "Château Clique" that ruled the Province of Quebec under the new British governors, who reserved new land developments for the English and the English system of colonization (see Eastern Townships) and the "pull" of industrialization in New England, approximately 900,000 residents of Quebec[1] (French Canadian for the great majority) left for the United States seeking work. About half of those are reported to have eventually returned to Quebec.[2] Often those who stayed organized themselves in communities sometimes known as Little Canadas. A great proportion of Americans with French ancestry trace it through Quebec. Others, particularly in the South, were from Acadia - the Cajuns - and from France directly. Until 1849, the Catholic Church was not allowed to purchase any land, or establish any parishes in the Eastern Townships due to English Protestant laws and control[3] At the initiative of Father Bernard O'Reilley, an Association des Townships was set up in 1848 to promote settlement in the area. In the 1850s, the association purchased lands which it gave to young families of farmers to prevent them from leaving for the United States where it was believed they would ultimately be assimilated.

Certain early American centers of textile manufacturing and other industries attracted significant French-Canadian populations, like Lewiston and other bordering counties in Maine; Fall River, Holyoke and Lowell in Massachusetts; Woonsocket in Rhode Island; Manchester in New Hampshire and the bordering counties in Vermont. There are also sizeable populations of French-Canadian descent in Michigan and Minnesota — who began migrating there when the region was still part of New France.[citation needed]

The Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, details New England's Quebec diaspora which developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Noteworthy among those whose parents settled in the United States are writer Jack Kerouac, politician Mike Gravel, singers Rudy Vallee and Robert Goulet, Emil Beaulieau, historian Will Durant and many more.


The largest proportion of French-Canadians outside of Quebec trace their ancestry to Quebec (except in the Canadian Maritimes, which were settled by the Acadians).

The development of mining resources in the northeastern and eastern regions of Ontario at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century attracted a large workforce from Quebec. A great part of today's half-million Franco-Ontarians are the descendants of these Quebec emigrants. The francophone population of Ontario is today still concentrated mainly in the northeastern and eastern parts of Ontario, close to the border with Quebec, although smaller pockets of francophone settlement exist throughout the province.

Canadian West

While a good number of emigrants were from Quebec or Ontario, it is often Franco-Americans who formed the nucleus of the population in several francophone communities of Western Canada. These populations today self-identify with their province of residence (Franco-Manitobans, Fransaskois, Franco-Albertans or Franco-Columbians).


  1. ^ Bélanger, Damien-Claude (23 August 2000). "French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840-1930". Québec History, Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  2. ^ Bélanger, Claude (23 August 2000). "Rapatriement". Québec History, Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Historical Geography of the Eastern Townships", Eastern Township Research Centre of Bishop's University


  • Roby, Yves (2004). Franco-American of New England. Dreams and Realities.. Septentrion. p. 550 pages. ISBN 2-89448-391-0. 
  • Doty, C. Stewart. "The Intellectual of the Quebec Diaspora: The Case of Henri d’Arles". in Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études canadiennes, 24 (1989-1990), pp. 61-71.

See also



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