Migration in Canada predominantly flows from east to west. From the Atlantic provinces, where jobs are scarce, a lot of the movement stops around about Toronto. Don Shebib’s 1970 film, Goin’ Down the Road, captured the essence of this phenomenon when it followed its two hapless male protagonists from the east to a Toronto and then on to the west coast when their new lifestyles outdistanced their salaries.
While we weren’t as disadvantaged as the two young men in the film, we were also drawn west from the Atlantic provinces by the promise of better jobs. In the 1970s, this migration by road had only recently be made possible when the Trans-Canada Highway was officially opened in 1962. Then thoughts of heading west to the ‘happening city of Vancouver’ became the dream of some young people in the eastern part of the country.
While thoughts of migrating across the breadth of a continent by car had only become a recent phenomenon in the 1970s, cars had become an important part of the Canadian lifestyle many decades before. Their journeys may not have taken them as far as ours had, but it brought them a measure of freedom of movement all the same.
Bourne, L.S. and Flowers, Mark R. Changing Urban Places: Mobility Migration and Immigration in Canada, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto, March 1999
Guillet, Edwin C. The Story of Canadian Roads, University of Toronto Press, 1966