Guarding the Gates

The Canadian Labour Movement and Immigration, 1872-1934

By (author) David Goutor
Categories: Social and cultural history, History: specific events and topics, History, History and Archaeology
Publisher: UBC Press
Paperback : 9780774813655, 288 pages, January 2008

Table of contents


Part 1: Issues and Arguments

1 Guarding the Gates

2 Setting the Stage: Labour, Industry, and Immigration in Canada, 1872-1934

Part 2: Labour’s Anti-Asian Agitation

3 The Bounds of Unity: Opposition to Chinese Immigration, 1880-87

4 The “Old Time Question”: The Campaign for Exclusion, 1888-1934

Part 3: Labour and Atlantic Immigration 

5 Superfluous People: Labour’s Construction of Immigrants from Europe and the British Isles

6 Importing Victims: The Assault on the Commerce of Immigration

Part 4: Immigration, Ideology, and Politics

7 Immigration, Joseph Arch, and the Producer Ideology, 1872-79

8 Imported Labour, the Tariff, and Land Reform, 1880-1902

9 Retreat, Corporatism, and Responsible Management, 1903-34


Notes; Bibliography; Index

A pioneering study of Canadian labour leaders’ approach to immigration from the 1870s to the Great Depression.


From the 1870s until the Great Depression, immigration was often the question of the hour in Canada. Politicians, the media, and an array of interest groups viewed it as essential to nation building, developing the economy, and shaping Canada’s social and cultural character. One of the groups most determined to influence public debate and government policy on the issue was organized labour, and unionists were often relentless critics of immigrant recruitment. Guarding the Gates is the first detailed study of Canadian labour leaders’ approach to immigration, a key battleground in struggles between different political factions within the labour movement. This book provides new insights into labour, immigration, social, and political history.


David Goutor skilfully explores the meanings and consequences of organized labour’s opposition to wholesale recruitment of labour abroad and to different streams of immigration . .. Goutor’s most significant contribution is to explore the relationship between labour’s attitudes to immigration and its ability to develop as an effective political force.

- James Naylor, Brandon University