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Summer Tourists. A Manual for New Brunswick Farmers

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From the blog at https://johnwood1946.wordpress.com

 David Russell Jack

David Russell Jack, 1864-1913

New Brunswick historian, writer, and founder of the Acadiensis journal. From the N.B. Museum, as presented on the McCord Museum web site

David Russell Jack was enthusiastic about New Brunswick history, and was the founder and editor of the Acadiensis journal. The following advice to farmers wanting to profit from what we would call bed-and-breakfast establishments was self-published in Saint John in 1900 and was entitled Summer Tourists. A Manual for the New Brunswick Farmer. He was writing in his capacity as a member of the New Brunswick Tourist Association.

This is very entertaining advice. He insisted that the people of N.B. were salt-of-the-earth sorts, but in a rough and hearty sort of way, and he encouraged them to smooth over some of their rough edges for the sake of outsiders. Lines such as “don’t throw your slops and dish-water out of the back door” were numerous and typical. For the sake of balance, he allowed that tourists were “strange animals and have many peculiarities,” and tolerating these peculiarities was about all that could be expected in some cases.

That will be enough of an introduction. Following is his manual.

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Summer Tourists. A Manual for the New Brunswick Farmer

Forespeech

It has been the lot of the writer of the following pages either in the pursuit of business or pleasure, or both, to travel much over this his native Province of New Brunswick. But few villages have escaped his peregrinations, and in many a farm house and hamlet he would be no stranger.

By a knowledge born of experience, he is, therefore, in a position to realize something at least of the difficulties and trials which beset the path of the traveler, who, coming either from a sister province or from the neighboring Republic, seeks to spend a few days or weeks in comfort in some country retreat, in quiet forgetfulness of the busy turmoil of an active life in a great city.

The farming people of New Brunswick are, as a rule, honest, industrious, hospitable, cheerful and open hearted. If any stranger comes among them, seeking their hospitality, they will doubtless do their utmost in a rough and hearty sort of way to make him comfortable. But in the country districts particularly, owing doubtless to lack of experience, much has yet to be learned in the art of catering to the wants and tastes of people from older communities.

Many of the New Brunswick farmers, or their forefathers, in order to keep the wolf from the door, have been obliged to combine lumbering and fishing with farming, and in the rough and ready life they have led, have perhaps formed habits and fallen into ways of living not altogether in keeping with the ideas of the more fastidious traveler, who would fain partake of their hospitality for a season.

For the latter class of individuals, some allowance should be made by the farmer, for the reason that many sights and sounds to which he has by daily contact become accustomed, are to the visitor from the city, startling, and perhaps repulsive.

New Brunswick has made great forward strides during the past decade in the development of agricultural pursuits, and gives promise of even greater progress during the earlier years of the century of which we are at present almost upon the threshold.

We have many men of education and refinement among our farmers, but this is not as a rule the class of men who take to the keeping of summer boarders, as a partial means of livelihood.

It is to the poorer and less educated class, that the following pages are addressed.

As a member of the Executive Committee of the New Brunswick Tourist Association, an organization composed of business men and women who voluntarily give of their time and ability in promoting the interest of tourist travel throughout this province, the writer has given much thought and consideration to the solution of the various problems which are continually encountered.

Not the least difficult of these problems, is the provision of accommodation, where the tourist of moderate means may enjoy the beauties of climate and scenery which our province affords, in a style of comfort and refinement, in some degree akin to that which he might reasonably expect.

The writer has penned the following lines, in the modest hope that they may prove of some little assistance in helping to smooth away some of the rough edges of country life, and make the way, perchance, a trifle easier for the summer tourist.

D. R. J.

To New Brunswick Farmers

Of all the various branches of industry which the farmer can and does combine with farming pure and simple, in this province of New Brunswick, there is probably nothing so profitable, and which can be so advantageously carried on, as the keeping: of summer boarders. It is a spot cash trade, with good profits and quick returns.

This allied branch is as yet, however, with us practically undeveloped, and is capable of almost unlimited expansion.

In the sister provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, we have people of kindred race, language, customs and occupation, but in the matter of catering to the wants and tastes of the summer tourist, the New Brunswicker is by comparison to the wily Nova Scotian, as the mild mannered Doukhobor to the crafty Chinee [sic], only more so. In Nova Scotia the tourist business has been carefully studied and developed, and the attractions of the country widely advertised for years, while with us it is as yet but in embryo.

By selling your milk, butter and eggs, your vegetables, fruits and poultry at first hand to the summer tourist, you can make a much greater profit than by hauling them ten or fifteen miles to the nearest town or railway station, only perhaps to be euchred out of your proper returns by some unscrupulous middle man.

The Tourist Association of New Brunswick have been making strenuous efforts for the past few years to increase the tide of summer travel which yearly flows this way, but in order to obtain the best results they must have your active help. If you can house and feed in good shape, the ever increasing throng which each succeeding summer brings us, you will have done much to assist us in carrying on our work.

Before you can expect any very beneficial results, it is necessary that you should bring your establishments up to a certain standard at least, and the more you can improve upon that standard the better for yourselves. If you earnestly try to do so, be sure that there is a good harvest in store for you.

If your house has been built for some years and is beginning to look a little shabby, buy a few pounds of paint and give it two coats all over when your other work is slack. It will make your property look much more attractive, and will greatly improve its wearing qualities. If you have not a verandah to your house, build one and make it not less than six feet wide, so that you can sling a hammock in it in which the summer tourist may enjoy the summer breezes. If you can make it eight or ten feet wide, so much the better.

If your house stands upon a bare spot by itself, plant a few trees about it which will give it an appearance of beauty, and lend rest to the eye and shelter from the hot rays of the summer sun.

If you have any feather beds that your mother made, for goodness sake don’t try to persuade the summer visitor to sleep on them. They are a hideous abomination to the average tourist. Buy a wire spring or two with a cheap mattress. They are nice and cool to sleep upon, and are not apt to get stuffy. Don’t burn your feather beds, though, but buy a few remnants of cheap bright chintz, and have your daughter make them up into those lovely large soft pillows which are so delightful to the back-bone of the lazy tourist.

If you get your tourist into a good hammock, with one of those lovely pillows under his head, the chances are ten to one that he or she will want to stay there.

Make the windows of your house to open wide, so as to let in the pure sweet air of heaven, which is as the balm of Gilead to the weary sojourner from the great city.

If the paper on your walls is the same that was there when you were born, tear it off and send to town for a few rolls of pretty light colored stuff, which you can buy for eight or ten cents a roll, and have your family put it on before the busy time in the spring.

Most farmers keep a horse or two. If you have one, teach that boy of yours to drive. Give your wagon a coat of paint and send your boarders out to enjoy the air whenever they feel so inclined. It keeps them out of the way and gives your wife a chance to tidy up the house.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

If you have an old clock that belonged to your grandfather, an old piece of mahogany furniture that is heavy to lift around, an odd shaped chair, or any other old thing, don’t sell it for your life’s sake. The wily tourist generally knows just about what such things are worth while you do not. If you sell them you will likely get stuck and the chances are that your visitor will tire of his purchase before he gets it home. If you don’t sell them to him, he will want them all the more, and will rave about them to his friends when he goes home. Perhaps next summer his friends will come down to see them, and try to soften your heart with the persuasive tongue.

If your house is near a river or a lake, buy a good canoe, or a strong boat and pair of oars, so that people will have something to amuse themselves with. If there is any good fishing or shooting in your neighborhood, find out all about it, so as to be able to tell your visitors.

Don’t put a colored cloth on your dining table, on any account. A colored table cloth sometimes covers a multitude of things, and is apt to be looked upon with suspicion by the average tourist. A white table cloth, no matter how coarse, if it is clean, gives a good appearance to your table. Tell your daughter to go out into the grove, and dig up a small fern or two, and set them on the table. They give an air of daintiness and refinement which is most seductive, particularly to the female mind. The male mind is not always above such trifles either.

Don’t put too many kinds of cake upon the table at once. Good bread and good butter are more esteemed by tourists, than a multitude of cakes.

Do the butter up into little dainty rolls and set them upon a plate with a small lump of ice. Ice is a cheap commodity in this province if you gather your harvest at the right season.

A clean napkin is a necessity. Tell the Indians to make you a few napkin rings of wicker work and sweet hay, and of different designs, so that each guest may know his own. Put a fresh napkin in the ring every day at dinner time.

If you have any hooked mats put them up in the attic before your visitors arrive, and keep them there until after they have departed.

Paint the floor of your dining room a nice light color all over, then lay a cheap square in the centre. You can buy these squares for from $2.00 apiece, upwards.

Roast chickens are very nice occasionally, but don’t chop the chickens’ heads off about breakfast time, and leave them to hop around on the front lawn until your wife is ready to pluck them. Do all your butchering early in the morning, while the visitors’ eyelids are still heavy with sleep.

If you have not a poultry yard, buy a roll of six foot wire netting and build one. Keep your hens and chickens in it, at least while your visitors are with you.

Don’t throw your slops and dish-water out of the back door. The soap suds act on any fatty matter, and send poisonous gases into the air, breeding pestilence and disease. This endangers not only the health of your own family but that of the tourist. One of them might die, and that would give your house a bad name.

Keep your troubles to yourself and don’t talk the ear off your visitors by telling them all about the petty foibles of your neighbors, or how much trouble you had with that heifer. We all have troubles of our own in this world, and people as a rule don’t go to the country to be bored. Keep yourself and your family in the background as much as possible— feel assured that if your visitors want your company they will soon let you know it. It isn’t pleasant to be snubbed, and by giving no cause for such treatment you will keep up your self respect.

Should there be any children about, buy a good stout rope, and put up a swing. Children love to swing. Men and women are but grown up children.

Tourists are strange animals and have many peculiarities. Some of them like to smoke, some to read novels, some to work embroidery, some to flirt, and some to meditate upon religion. If they want to, let them.

Buy a few yards of wire gauze and make screen doors, back and front, to keep the flies out, also a few screens for the principal windows. They are easily made, and a wipe of green paint will make them look as if they came from the shop. When the summer is over put them away carefully in a dry place.

Sow a few poppies in your hayfield. They look enchanting to the eye and won’t hurt the hay.

Give, the tourist all the milk and cream he wants. It pays better to feed the cream to tourists than make it into butter and feed the skim milk to the pigs.

If there are any Indians about, don’t drive them away, but let them camp along the river bank where they won’t do any harm. Indians are always a great source of interest to tourists. Besides, the Indian has a lien upon your land by right of priority of possession. A little kindness to this unfortunate class of beings will mean a good mark for you in the book of the Kingdom of Heaven.

When you have put your house in order, tell your daughter to write to the Secretary of the New Brunswick Tourist Association, Canterbury Street, St. John, N. B., giving him full particulars as to the number of rooms you have to let, the number of guests you can accommodate, the best way of reaching your place, the distance from your house to the nearest railway station or steamboat landing, and the prices you propose to charge. He will do all he can to help you. If you start at $5.00 per week for each adult and please your visitors, you can then increase your charge to $7.00 a week. A small amount at a time to new patrons as your reputation becomes established. Your Nova Scotia rival frequently obtains $10.00 per week for moderate accommodation. Don’t try to jump prices up too suddenly to old customers, as they are your best advertisers.

All this cannot be accomplished in one year, but it is astonishing; what good results you can show in two or three years if you try hard enough. Then the Golden Harvest will begin, and you may safely look forward to years of increasing prosperity, and be able to keep your children about you as they grow up, instead of having to send them abroad to seek a means of livelihood. It is a good thing for your country to have them at home, to take up their share of the burthen of life, and allow you to take matters a little easier in your declining years, in the old home you love so well.

David Russell Jack

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Written by johnwood1946

January 19, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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