Young, Well-Educated, and Adaptable

Chilean Exiles in Ontario and Quebec, 1973-2010

Francis Peddie (Author)

Between 1973 and 1978, six thousand Chilean leftists came to Canada as exiles from the Pinochet coup d’état.

They left Chile for different reasons and arrived in Canada in a variety of ways, but they shared one trait: they had not wanted to leave Chile, and were only grudgingly admitted to Canada. Once resettled, with many in Ontario and Quebec, these political exiles had to find ways of coping with an abrupt and violent separation from their homeland that had deep material and emotional repercussions.

In 1990, the military regime in Chile ceded power to a civilian government, and the main reason for staying in exile disappeared. Yet most of the exiles stayed. Canada was no longer seen as a place of transit, a backdrop to be endured until they could reclaim their places in Chile. For the political exiles, it had become home.

In Young, Well-Educated, and Adaptable, Francis Peddie documents the experiences of Chilean-Canadians. He also considers how the admission of people from the wrong side of the Cold War ideological divide had a lasting effect on Canadian immigration and refugee policy, establishing a precedent for the admission of political exiles over the decades that followed.


“The 6,000 Chileans who made their way to Canada between 1973 and 1978 arrived as political refugees who were obliged to reconstruct their lives in a society that was at best ambivalent to the forces that drove them out of Chile. Francis Peddie’s book provides a highly readable and insightful overview of the Chilean refugee experience in Canada. Young, Well-Educated, and Adaptable is based on interviews with Chilean refugees about politics, Canadian society and tragedy of longing to return. While the focus of this book is on one community, readers familiar with other communities of exiles will identify with the stories and experiences that are common to so many Canadians. Peddie not only looks at adjustment to life in a new society, he also provides a solid historical background setting Chile and Canada in the context of the Cold War. Young, Well-Educated, and Adaptable is more than just a history of an exile community, it is a story about Canada and our record of providing refuge to people from around the world.”

– Ron Harpelle, Department of History, Lakehead University.

“Allows for a broad and comprehensive understanding of the exile, settlement, and integration/reintegration process for the first wave of Chilean exiles to Canada, as a result of the coup d‘état and ensuing repression.”

– Morgan Poteet, Mt. Allison University, Refuge

“A well-written, accessible, and rich social history of Chilean exiles who fled to Canada after the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government. A fantastic look at these exiles’ migration and settlement, the book offers keen insights…”

– Asa McKercher, McMaster University, Canadian Journal of History

“A well-written and well-told story of exile and diaspora.”

– Julie Shayne, University of Washington Bothell, Pacific Historical Review

About the Author

Francis Peddie is a historian of Latin America and Canadian Immigration. Originally from Toronto, he now teaches at Nagoya University in Japan.

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