Immigration To Kingston
As noted in the previous section, the initial settlers to the area after the Mississauga First Nations were British and French. The British influence on the development of Kingston began in earnest in the late 1700’s, as United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution settled in the region. The establishment of Kingston as a military centre during the War of 1812 also boosted the British presence. Despite the influence of other immigrant communities such as the Irish and Italians during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the dominant presence in Kingston was and continues to be British: in the 2006 Census, more than 60% of Kingston residents reported their ethnic origin as coming from the British Isles (including Ireland), almost twice the Canadian average.
From the 2006 Census, approximately 14% of Kingston residents are immigrants. This percentage is lower than both Ontario (28%) and Canada as a whole (20%). According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Kingston receives approximately 380 new permanent residents per year: this number has remained more or less constant since 2000. In comparison, other small centres in Ontario such as Guelph and Peterborough have seen high growth in their immigrant populations in the past decade.
A large proportion of immigrants living in Kingston, almost every 3 in 4, arrived before 1991; comparatively, just over half of Ontarian and Canadian immigrants settled before that year. By country of origin, the largest immigrant community in Kingston continues to be from the United Kingdom. Other Western European countries such as Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy are also well represented in the area, as are immigrants from the United States.
Examining the growth of immigrant communities presents a different story. The population base of most European-origin communities in Kingston has been at best steady or in decline, while more newcomers are arriving from Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. For the top fifteen countries of origin in the Kingston area, the only communities that showed a net growth between 1996 and 2006 were China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, El Salvador, Egypt and the United States. Likewise, China has consistently been a top source country for Kingston, based on yearly immigration data, as have South Korea, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan. Immigrants continue to arrive in Kingston from the United Kingdom, but not to the same degree as was the case historically.
Data on Kingston residents’ mother tongue further illustrates this shift. The most popular mother tongues reported in 2006 (excluding English and French) were Chinese, Portuguese, German, Dutch and Spanish. Examining growth between 2001 and 2006, the fastest growing linguistic communities in Kingston include Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Russian, and Punjabi.
According to the 2006 Census, 6% of Kingston residents reported being a visible minority. Although this statistic represents a sizeable increase from 2001, Kingston still has little visible diversity compared to other similar-sized Ontario cities such as Guelph (13%), or to the province (23%) and country (16%) overall. The largest visible minority community in Kingston is Chinese, with just under 2,500 people: other large populations include people identifying as South Asian, Black and Latin American.
In summary, immigrants in Kingston can be broadly divided into two main groups. The majority of immigrants arrived prior to 1991 and predominately came from Europe or the United States. The second group is much smaller but growing, and represents populations arriving from other areas of the world, especially Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. This demographic shift has important implications for providing services to newcomers and creating a welcoming community in Kingston.