TheShipsList Home Page Search the Passenger Lists Search Ship Company Fleet Lists Ship Descriptions and Voyage Histories  
Find Pictures of Ships, Ports, Immigration Stations
Find Diagrams & Photographs Ships' RiggingSearch Ship Arrivals from Newspapers &c
Search Marriages at Sea, British Ships
Search Numerous Files for Famine Emigrants, 1847Find Reports & Lists of Ship Wrecks Search 1862 Lists & Shipping Information Search Immigration & Ship Related Off-site Links              
Diaries & Journals | Immigration Reports | Illustrated London News | Trivia | Frequently Asked Questions

From the Immigration Report of Scandinavian Agent for Canada, 1874
Sessional Papers, 38 Victoria (40) 1875

No. 31.




Copenhagen, Dec. 18th, 1874

Sir: ---I have the honour to submit the following report of this agency, embracing a period of a little over a year and a quarter, namely, from the 19th of September, 1873 to December, 1874.

The Emigration Agency of the Dominion of Canada for the Scandinavian kingdoms was established on the 19th September 1873, by my appointment as agent.

From a conversation I had a few weeks before that time with the then Minister of Agriculture, the Honorable Mr. Pope, and with John Lowe, Esq., the Secretary of the Department, I received a general idea of the plan to be pursued, but, had no specific instructions, and owing to the change of Ministry shortly following, I was left without definite orders and instructions until the month of March, when I was ordered to report to you for orders; this will account for the slight discord which you found before I had time to regulate matters according to your own plans.

In the fall of 1873, I did, however, commence work in pursuance of the verbal conversation above alluded to, so far as I felt authorized to do so.

Having been for many years connected with Scandinavian emigration, I was already in correspondence and had personal relations with many people who had the subject at heart, and I was on personal good terms with the principal emigration agents in those countries, which facilitated my efforts to communicate directly with the people, and I have devoted the time to travelling a good deal among them.

I have advertised briefly some of the advantages of Canada in 46 newspapers, inviting at the same time particular correspondence on the subject. I have received and answered, either by letter or by printed documented, written enquiries about emigration to Canada from over eleven hundred individuals, and have distributed, through the mails and through the emigration agencies, seventeen thousand pamphlets, circulars and maps, descriptive of Canada in the different Scandinavian dialects and in the Finnish language.

Through the favour of Allan Brothers & Co., at Liverpool, I have been enabled to place and excellent map (3 by 9 feet, on rollers) in prominent places in about forty country villages.

I have come into correspondence with a society of Finlanders in St. Petersburg, who are striving to direct the Finnish emigration to North America, rather in opposition to the plans of the Russian Government, for colonizing the Amur Valley, in Asia, with the dissatisfied Finns; and I hope that with a little effort at the start, much good will be secured for our undertaking in behalf of Canadian emigration. For further particulars in regard to this, I would respectfully refer to my letter of August 22nd on the subject.

In the Danish island called Iceland, there is at present a great agitation among the people of all classes on the subject of emigration, and I think I am safe in estimating that ten thousand people will leave that island for America within the next three years, to be followed by half the population soon after. Their country is too barren and inhospitable for civilized men, which they are just beginning to find out. They are a hardy, frugal and industrious race---the oldest type of the Scandinavians---they are well inured to a northerly climate, are excellent herdsmen and fishermen, and I believe that the eastern coast of Canada would be well adapted for their future home; and this seems also to be the prevailing opinion among their leading men. Learning last winter that there were two prominent Icelanders in Copenhagen, who took a lively interest in the emigration movement, I went to see them, and have since corresponded with them after their return to Iceland, and to a good purpose. I learn from them and others that the field is ripe for a large movement to Canada. Some have gone the past season from the south of the island; another party of seventy families in the northern part of the island were booked to go in August last, and had paid part of the passage money to the agent, but owing to some misunderstanding or difficulty, the Norwegian Steamship Company which had agreed to send a steamer for them failed to do so, and I am unable to state whether they have got away yet or not. If they have not gone, I would earnestly recommend that the offer of assistance which was made this year be still kept open, and I hope to make arrangements with the Allan Line to send a steamer to the north coast of Iceland next summer to bring them and others away, they being so far from the seaport Reikiavik [Reykjavík] that they cannot leave the island in the regular mail steamers.*

*[note: - The Allan Line stepped in immediately in 1874, unbeknown to the writer. The Montreal Ocean Services {Allan Line} ship ST. PATRICK, sailed from Akureyri, Iceland [1874-09] & Sandvik, Iceland [1874-09], arriving Quebec, Que. 1874-09-23]

It appears now that the attention of the United States Government has been directed towards this people, and that a war steamer has been sent with a reconnoitering committee to the territory of Alaska with a view of directing that valuable emigration there; but I leave no doubt that the great distance and the inhospitable nature of that territory will be so much against the undertaking that the people chiefly interested will greatly prefer Canada, and can easily be induced to go there if some efforts are made with the first parties leaving, and with some of the controlling men on the island.

Concerning the immediate results of this year's labour, they have not been at all satisfactory. The following table shows the number of emigrants for Canada reported to me during the year: -

Steamship Line

Embarkation Port

Number of Persons

Number of Adults

Allan Line

Gottenburg [sic]



Allan Line




Allan Line




Dominion Line




Anchor Line




Norwegian sailing ship Line







Of this number, assistance has been given to eighty-two adults, namely: -

By Allan Line



Allan Line



Allan Line



Dominion Line



Anchor Line



Norwegian sailing ship





To this add seventy families, about 300 persons booked in Iceland, who were ready to leave in August when I last heard from them, making a total of nearly 600 persons, of whom I have official knowledge.

I know that several have left by the different Boston and New York lines for Canada who have not been reported to me, and yet the number is far short of what might have been experienced under ordinary circumstances.

I beg, however, that you will bear in mind the fact that the season has been the worst for immigration we have had in these countries for over ten years. Scandinavian emigration is comparatively in its beginning. Prior to the year, 1853, only a few families emigrated each year, after that the number increased at a very regular rate until it reached 40, 000 persons in 1869. Since then a season of unparalleled prosperity commenced and still continues, in consequence whereof the number of emigrants has gradually decreased so that in 1873 it only reached 20,000. The present year has been still more prosperous, money very plenty, wages double, and in the mineral districts treble of former times, the produce of farmers has sold at very high prices, speculation and new enterprises have multiplied in an unusual and unnatural manner, real estate almost doubled in value, and everybody seems to have made money and been contented for the time being. To all this comes the great financial crisis in the United States, which deprived thousands of employment who have returned here crying down America generally. This panic has even gone so far that the Danish Government has issued a proclamation warning the people from emigrating for fear of the misery and suffering in some of the Western States. By reason of these combined difficulties emigration this year has so greatly decreased that the whole number who had left the port of Gothenburg this year up to the 1st of July, was only 1,885, against 9,497 during the same period last year (and of this small number two-thirds had prepaid tickets sent them from friends on the other side), the same proportion holds good in the other Scandinavian seaports, and also for the time since the 1st of July, when the bulk of emigration was over.

In connection with this, I would briefly refer to a peculiarity with the Scandinavian emigrants, namely a certain clannish feeling or disposition to settle near their own countrymen and former provincial neighbours, and where they have access to churches, schools and business places where their own language is used. This makes it always hard to start the first settlements in a new or unknown country, but after a nucleus is once formed for a little community and a church organized or a school started, then this same peculiarity becomes a good advantage, because then the work of emigration goes on without any effort or expense to the Government. In the Northwestern States are numerous settlements started some years ago, and well known among the people here; in Canada there are none, and that country was entirely unknown among the masses here until this year; you will therefore readily perceive that the fruit of the work done here now will appear more satisfactory two or three years hence.

Concerning the expenses of this agency I can conscientiously say that I have endeavoured to be as economical and careful as any prudent man could be in his own affairs, so as to get the most work done for the least money, and yet the sum total may at a first glance, seem quite large; but I beg to call your attention to the fact that my work extends over a very large country where communications are comparatively poor, postage very high, and where four different languages have to be used, or rather four different branches of the same language and, yet so much unlike each other, that separate editions and translations are necessary for each, and that while the agents allowance is quite liberal, it also includes office, travelling and many other expenses usually in such cases charged separately.

The following table shows the expenses of the agency up to the end of the present year, being for a period of fifteen and a half months: -


$ cts.

Printing of 14, 000 pamphlets and 3,000 circulars in 4 dialects


21,000 maps with lithographing


Advertisements in forty-six newspapers in four different countries


Postage, inclusive, for 7,000 Danish pamphlets sent from London




Duties on printers' matter


Blanks and stationery


Express, freight and cartage


Translating (Finnish)


Sub-Agents expenses


Map binding


Consuls fees


Expenses, journey to London


Agents' salary and expenses, including office rent and furniture, clerk hire and ordinary travelling expenses




Respecting the future success of this agency, I have the best hopes. The unfavourable prospects of the year just closed are not likely to recur very soon, a change is already perceptible; prudent men are taking steps to realize their goods and chattels with a view to moving; enquiries at this office are multiplying, and there is every indication that emigration will set in with renewed force, and by properly working and directing it, Canada will have a large share, and when once started to Canada that country will be preferred to the Western States by the Scandinavians on account of its nearer approach, its excellent climate, fine timber lands and fisheries, all particularly suited to their tastes and habits.

The Scandinavian emigrants are regarded in the West as the best pioneers. They are all producers, are law abiding, orderly, sober, industrious, hardy, frugal, and generally successful. They are not shiftless or roving, but remain where they go, under reasonable advantages, and improve the country; and the statistics of the Western States demonstrate that they furnish a less number of paupers and criminals than any other European nation in proportion to their number.

I trust the Department will therefore feel encouraged to continue its efforts here for some time, and feel confident that the Government will be amply rewarded in time and that the people of Canada will never have cause to regret the time when attention was directed towards the Scandinavian emigration.

I have the honour to remain,
Yours very respectfully,
H. Mattson,

[To] The Honourable
The Minister of Agriculture,


TheShipsList®™ - (Swiggum) All Rights Reserved - Copyright © 1997-present
These pages may be freely linked to but not duplicated in any fashion without written consent of .
Last updated: January 21, 2005 and maintained by and M. Kohli