Arrival and Settlement

From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Egyptians/Fouad Assaad

Quebec has received the largest number of Egyptian immigrants. Of the 22,288 who arrived in Canada between 1956 and 1983, 64 percent indicated that province as their destination. Ontario took in 30 percent, and the remainder chose to settle in other provinces. By 1991, according to the census statistics, 49 percent of all Egyptians in the country lived in Quebec and 41 percent in Ontario. During the period of massive immigration in 1962–69, Quebec was chosen three times as frequently as Ontario. These years coincided with the Quiet Revolution and the migration of large numbers of anglophones from the province. By the late 1960s, this pattern had begun to change; the number of Egyptians choosing Ontario as their destination increased and those settling in Quebec declined. By the mid-1970s, the percentage for the two provinces was more or less equal, and it has remained so to the present.

Three factors account for the preference given to Quebec and Ontario. The initial immigrants from Egypt were non-natives such as Jews, Europeans, and Syrio-Lebanese, most of whom spoke French as a second language. Once the early arrivals had established themselves in Quebec, others were encouraged to follow. Native Egyptians who did not have a strong command of the French language tended to choose Toronto, especially after 1980. A second factor was that, at the time of large-scale Egyptian immigration, Montreal’s position as a major economic centre appealed to many Egyptians whose occupational status was professional or semiprofessional. These characteristics would make Toronto more attractive to immigrants after 1980. Finally, the newcomers – most of whom had come from urban centres such as Cairo and Alexandria – were attracted to the large cosmopolitan cities of eastern Canada. In 1991 Egyptians in Montreal (single and multiple responses combined) numbered 11,695 and those in Toronto 6,870. The next largest concentration (1,680) was in Ottawa-Hull. The pattern of settlement in urban centres reflected a strong individuality among immigrants, made possible by their high educational, occupational, and economic achievements and their linguistic abilities.