Beginning in the 1880's, groups of British Remittance Men came to Canada looking for a new life. A Remittance Man was called that because most received a scheduled remittance or allowance from their families. These payments were often made in order to keep the man away from Britain where it was thought he would cause problems for his family. The 'Remittance Men' who came to Canada were second sons, which under British tradition of the time meant that these individuals should expect to inherit nothing from their family's estate. Following British tradition, all wealth and property were given to a family's oldest son, assuring that the family's fortune stayed in one piece. The second sons of such families often led purposeless lives, many of them not knowing what they would do to earn a living. Some of these sons were uncontrollable young men who were an embarrassment to their families on account of their indulgence in drinking, gambling and continuing rounds of parties. All were seen as a drain on the family's revenue. Whatever the case, the main solution to their situation was often the same. They would be sent off to a far corner of the British Empire to make whatever living they could.
Some British immigrants of this class, however, did not fit the regular Remittance Man stereotype. A number of them were hardworking, married, did not receive regular remittances (if any at all) and who went on to be valuable and well thought of members of Canadian society. The Remittance Men came to British Columbia from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland traveling by ship across the Atlantic Ocean. The trip took approximately two weeks and they journeyed in luxurious surroundings. They ate well, slept in comfort and played cards while smoking fashionable cigars. These men were known for not traveling lightly. They brought all they thought they would need to continue living the life of luxury they were used to in Britain. They found, however, that their best suits were of no use when hunting and ranching in the Canadian West.
Upon arrival in British Columbia, the Remittance Men tended to live in communities established by British people. These communities were places such as Windermere in East Kootenay and Nelson in West Kootenay. Towns like these were advertised in Britain as being plentiful and beautiful paradises in which British people could recreate the aristocratic lifestyle they were accustomed to. Reality however was much different; their land was not cleared, the homes they had to build did not resemble British cottages, and the regions they came to looked nothing like that featured in the promotional materials. In the majority of cases, their homes were cabins, although some managed to build Victorian and Edwardian houses. The men continued to live and behave as they had done in Britain, holding themselves apart from the Canadian society. They hunted, fished and some ranched while other became involved in investment schemes.
The Remittance Men received an education that was to prepare them for life in the British aristocracy, but in Canada this education was of no use. Many did not know how to farm or how to clear land, so they appeared to be foolish. Because the Remittance Men did not take part in Canadian society, many Canadians disliked them. The Remittance Men were mocked and jokes circulated about the foolish behavior of these marginalised individuals. They were often considered to be eccentrics who lived by themselves and had little contact with their neighbors.
Communities were enriched by the architecture and culture Remittance Men shared. This helped to develop regions that were culturally diverse, and in these cases Remittance men shared some of the cultural value they brought with them.
ABSTRACT from http://www.fortsteele.ca/exhibits/kootenay/ethnic/rmen.asp