HAMILTON’S LONG HISTORY OF WELCOMING IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
one of Canada’s top destinations for people coming from somewhere else — by their own choice as immigrants, or out of necessity as refugees.
Nearly half of Hamilton residents 65 years of age and older were born outside Canada, a testament to the city’s legacy as a major industrial employer during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
During the 1800s, immigrants to Hamilton came predominantly from Ireland, Scotland and England.
The overwhelming numbers of refugees now passing through Buffalo’s Vive centre to Canada has been likened to a modern-day Underground Railroad.
Back in the mid-1800s, Hamilton was an important stop on the original Underground Railroad for blacks escaping from slavery in the United States.
Hundreds of black people settled in Hamilton during that time, including a thriving community on Concession Street on the Mountain that was dubbed Little Africa.
In the early part of the 20th century, the main sources of immigrants were Italy, Poland and Hungary.
After the end of the Second World War, there was a massive influx of immigrants from Italy and Portugal.
In the past half century, refugees have been a large proportion of the city’s newcomers.
One study showed that as much as one-third of all Hamilton residents born outside the country entered Canada as refugees, the highest such proportion in Canada.
During the 1970s, the principal source of refugees was Vietnam. More recently, Hamilton’s refugees have come from Myanmar, Somalia, Kosovo, Colombia, Iraq, Honduras, El Salvador and Afghanistan.
From late 2015 to early 2017, Hamilton also became home for nearly 1,500 refugees from Syria.
In the mid-1800s, Hamilton was an important stop on the original Underground Railroad.