New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

It Sounds a Bit Too Easy

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Abraham Gesner’s 1847 book, referenced below, included an appendix entitled Notes for Emigrants. It was advice for newcomers to the province. Much of this advice seems overly optimistic now, but still provides a glimpse of what life was like for many people then. Imagine that first winter, with moss packed between the logs to keep the wind out of the cabin; with a roof of black spruce bark; and a mighty fire shooting up a chimney made of sticks and mud!

Punctuation is as found:

“Emigrants who intend to settle in New Brunswick should arrive in the Province about the first of May, if possible; for by clearing away a few trees and some underbrush on their lands in that month and to the 25th of June, crops of potatoes, turnips, oats, and buckwheat, may be raised in the same season. Time will also be afforded to build comfortable log-houses before the approach of winter. J.G., in the County of Gloucester, took possession of a lot of land on the 16th of May, 1832: in the same season, he cleared ground from which he raised eighty bushels of potatoes, ten bushels of turnips, and ten of buckwheat; with these, and the fish he took upon the shore, and five bushels of wheat paid for in labour, he maintained his family (a wife and two children), until the second, and a much larger crop, was obtained. In the first year he built a log-house, and a hovel for a cow, and chopped eight acres; in 1843, he raised eighty bushels of wheat, one hundred of oats, five hundred of potatoes, ten of barley, twenty-five tons of hay, kept ten head of horned cattle, and two horses, and was in independent and most comfortable circumstances. Many other similar cases may be quoted.”

“Eight men will build a comfortable log house in two days; the roof will be covered with bark which ‘peels well in June’, or broad cedar shingles, when they can be obtained. A cellar may be built under the house when it is built, or opened near the cabin, and covered with brushwork and earth. The log-houses are built by felling the trees, (spruce and fir are preferred,) cutting them into blocks of fifteen to twenty-five feet in length, and laying them together with dovetails at the ends; a spacious fireplace is made of stones, when they can be procured, and a chimney is composed of short sticks, thickly plastered with clay mortar; openings are cut through the logs for a window and a door and the open spaces or cracks between the logs are carefully filled with moss, and then plastered over with clay.”

“The chief part of the emigrating population are persons without capital, and many of them very poor. The greatest struggles of these people, in all cases where they have no relatives in the country, are after they arrive and before they can obtain labour or land whereby they can maintain themselves; and being ignorant of the country, its localities and soil, they are unable to select a place of settlement: their choice is also liable to be injudiciously made. These and many other evils [… Gesner goes on to recommend that immigrants be organized into Companies].”

Ref.: Abraham Gesner, New Brunswick; with Notes for Emigrants,London, 1847, pages 375-376.

Written by johnwood1946

July 10, 2011 at 3:28 PM

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