Blair, F.C. (1874-1944)

Frederick Charles Blair was an immigration department officer who spent his career in Ottawa. He was born in Carlisle, Ontario and started in the civil service as a clerk in the census office before he transferred to the immigration branch and rose through the ranks to become director of immigration from 1937 to 1944. In that role he was responsible for restricting the number of Jewish refugees admitted to Canada from Nazi Germany and he has earned posthumous notoriety for that. From early in his career he was familiar with the South Asian file. In 1912 he spent some time in Vancouver preparing a report for his department on the South Asian agitation for the right to to bring over wives. He was not sympathic and on his recommendation the department made no concession. He attended the Imperial Conferences of 1923 and 1926 as a technical advisor  on immigration when Canadian immigration policy was an issue being raised by the government of India. In 1939, as director of immigration he was the person that Dr. Durai Pal Pandia and other representatives of the South Asian community had to deal with in negotiating an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Again he was unsympathetic although polite. He had to change his stance at the beginning of the second world war when his superiors decided they needed to make concessions to avoid controversy that would affect loyalty to the British Empire among Sikhs in Punjab. In 1943 he received the Imperial Service Order from the King.

Sources: Irving Abella and Harold Troper, None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe (Toronto: Random House, 1983); Hugh Johnston, Jewels of the Qila: The Remarkable Story of an Indo-Canadian Family (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011).