Essais sur le québec contemporain




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CHAPTER IV

POPULATION PROBLEMS




Nathan Keyfitz


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This chapter treats of four aspects of Quebec's demographic development. The first is simply the way in which numbers of people have changed in various parts of the province. As the bounded areas of rural parishes became filled, some people moved out, either to colonize new lands or to live in cities, and the nine censuses of Canada show the rate and extent of population change, parish by parish and county by county.

After summarizing the change in population, we try to find to what extent it is due to people moving, as distinct from being born and dying. The censuses show rapidly increasing numbers in urban places and nearly constant numbers in rural. The second part of this study seeks to infer from the changing numbers of rural and urban residents what flow has taken place. That flow can be estimated if one is willing to make assumptions in regard to death rates and other factors.

Once the number of persons who have gone from country to city is worked out, we focus on the changing pattern of occupations which is both cause and effect of the movement. One can hardly study occupations without going into the division of labour between French and English in the Province of Quebec. The 1951 census will tell some of the consequences of the enormous growth of cities in the 1940's.

The fourth and final section attempts to investigate an aspect of the movement of ideas, of the social change which is occurring contemporaneously with the movement of people from the country to cities. It is well known that taking up city residence changes the outlook of those who move, but a converse of this is not as familiar : what change is taking place among those who are left on farms ?

[p. 68]


1. THE CHANGING DISTRIBUTION
OF POPULATION



An easy way of seeing the changing pattern of population in the Province of Quebec is from the county distributions of 1871 and 1951. Table 1 lists the counties in groups which have either some economic resemblance or are contiguous to one another. They are the zones drawn up some time ago by the Economic Research Division of the Department of Trade and Commerce. The fifteen such zones present a more quickly understood picture than the full seventy-four counties which form the stub of the census tables.

In the Metropolitan area of Montreal, defined to include Montreal and Jesus Islands and Chambly County, the total population has multiplied by nine over the 80-year period, while the rest of the province has multiplied only by two and a half.

The counties of the Montreal Plains area are divided into two groups, industrial and agricultural. The industrial counties have more than doubled while the agricultural ones have increased by only 10 per cent. A similar contrast is shown within the Eastern Townships zone, where the increase in agricultural counties is 50 per cent while industrial counties trebled. Particular counties can be chosen within these two sub-zones that show the contrast in even more striking degree : Bagot, classed as agricultural, moved from 19,491 in the 1871 count to 19,224 in 1951, while Drummond, classed as industrial, grew from 10,975 to 53,426.

The same contrast is revealed elsewhere in the province. The industry which came to the St. Maurice valley brought it from 41,362 in 1871 to 179,600 in 1951, while the area north of Quebec City (Laurentides) as well as that south of it (South Shore) did not quite double. The Saguenay rose from 17,000 to 198,000, an increase which, like that of the St. Maurice, is intimately related to power development.

A study by parishes rather than counties and zones would undoubtedly reveal important features of the relation between population growth and industry. But the gross figures by zones offer sufficient indication that industrialized parts have skyrocketed in population, while agricultural areas have increased slowly or not at all. Before we use these census facts to infer the amount of migration from the farms of Quebec to the cities, it will be useful [p. 69] to note the changes in the proportions French in different parts of the province.


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