Immigration to Windsor and Essex County

Before 1950
Early immigrants to Windsor and Essex County were a unique and hardy group of young people. They immigrated to Canada for various reasons; a better life, to escape religious conflicts, or to avoid drafting in the Turkish army before World War I.

They endured a long and exhausting journey on a steamer before arriving to the New World. Their journey lasted three to four months consisting of two or more stages; first Beirut to France, then France to New York, Halifax or Montreal. Smugglers were paid for each phase of the journey. Few came directly to Windsor.

These early immigrants did not have extensive social support network to help them survive in the new land.

The majority of the early immigrants came from Lebanon in the 1890's and until the 1950's few were from Egypt and Syria. They had little education and little money.

They worked in any available job from mining, farming or construction, but most worked as peddlers selling imported merchandise from door to door. They learned English on the job.

Some managed to save enough money to open their own retail stores and became prosperous. Eventually they established community clubs, churches and schools.

After 1950
After the 1950's and due to continuous conflicts in the Middle East, new waves of Arabic speaking immigrants started to arrive such as the Palestinians, Somalis and Iraqis. Muslims also started to immigrate.

These recent immigrants were supported by an extensive social network both governmental and non-governmental. They were assisted in finding jobs, housing, learning English and health care. It was a totally different experience than the early immigrants experienced.

These recent immigrants differ from the early immigrants that they are either highly educated professionals or entrepreneurs who brought their wealth with them to Canada.

The current Arabic speaking community in Windsor is second to the Italian community.

There are over forty working physicians of Arabic background as well as many other professionals and skilled individuals.