New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

A Speech to Distinguished Persons of Stake and Consideration

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A Speech to Distinguished Persons of Stake and Consideration

Children Turnip Field

Children in Turnip Field, Woodstock, 1912

From collectionscanada

Almost everyone was complaining in the 1800’s about the state of Agriculture in New Brunswick. Large amounts of food were being imported rather than being produced locally; the labour force was largely dedicated to logging; farm labour was expensive; and immigrants were passing through with hopes of making better lives for themselves elsewhere. Farming techniques were improving as the 19th century progressed, but not so much in New Brunswick which was falling evermore behind. The following is one of many proposals which were made to remedy the situation, and it is from a speech given in 1825 by Lieutenant Governor Sir Howard Douglas.

The title that I have put on this blog post comes from his opening paragraph, and struck me as indicative of the social structure at that time.


At a general meeting of the Members of the Legislature, and other respectable Gentlemen from all parts of the Province, assembled in one of the Committee Rooms of the House of Assembly on Thursday the 17th of February, 1825, by request of the Lieutenant-Governor, to take into consideration some propositions to be submitted by His Excellency, relating to the improvement of Agriculture, &c. in this Province, when His Excellency was pleased to open the proceedings of the meeting with the following SPEECH:—

The purpose for which I have caused this meeting to be convened, is of the first importance to the Country: And I am delighted to find myself surrounded on this occasion, as I hope to be on every occasion, by those distinguished Persons, from whose station, stake and consideration in the Country, I may expect the most powerful aid in promoting the great objects I have in view, if we are all fully impressed with the expediency and necessity we are under, each in our several stations, of doing all that may depend upon us, to accomplish the purposes which I am now to bring more particularly under your consideration.

The purpose for which we are met is, to enquire whether some encouragement and excitement may not be applied to Agricultural pursuits, to operate, discreetly and gradually, in a manner to relieve the country from the great difficulty and disability under which it is laid by the vast sums which we pay for our food, and from the very disadvantageous effects which this produces on the cost of labour, and consequently in all branches of our industry.

Under ordinary circumstances, the high price occasioned by deficiency in the supply of any article in general demand, operating as a premium upon increased production has a direct and natural tendency to remedy its own evils. This, in fact, is an effect which is working here, though slowly, to cure the malady of which we complain; and if other branches of industry were not in an excited, forced, and somewhat unnatural condition, it would be unnecessary, superfluous, or perhaps disadvantageous, to interfere with the sources and currents of supply, which ultimately accommodate themselves in the most advantageous and fitest way, to meet demand. But there are peculiarities in the circumstances of this Country, which must appear very obvious to all persons who have correct notions of the extent of her business and dealings, compared with the limited Population and Capital we possess, which occasioning powerful competitions in other branches, would appear to demand some additional encouragement and adventitious aid, to draw Labour and Capital in greater quantities, to the cultivation of the Soil.

To consider, properly, the best modes and means by which we may augment the production of subsistence, it will be proper to resolve the question into the consideration of the elements of production, viz. Labour, Capital and Land, and to enquire in what way we can give to those constituent parts of production, the facilities and encouragement they require, to compete with other branches which are obviously under the influence of adventitious excitement.

With respect to Land, we possess it in abundance, and in quality ready to yield what we may in a judicious manner require of it; and it will be one of my main objects to endeavor to lay open to agricultural pursuits, extensive tracts which have long been locked up in reserved superabundance. This measure has in one case been, heretofore, sought and petitioned for; but it was not accorded to, at that, time, in consequence of doubts entertained by His Majesty’s Government, as to the value of the standing produce of that Land for other purposes. But it is an advantage arising from a late appointment to a high situation in the Province, that powers are given, subject to certain conditions and regulations which I may sanction, to throw open portions of those reserves to meet the improving circumstances of the Country, and this will be speedily observed in a way that will open considerable tracts of valuable Land to the operations of Agriculture.

Proceeding, next, to the consideration of Capital, it has appeared to me to be very desirable, that some new measures taken with a view to attract the enterprises of Capitalists, not only to the cultivation of fresh tracts, but likewise to that of the waste Lands of the Province generally; and I entertain the intention of bringing this proposition under the consideration of the High Authorities, elsewhere, upon whom this will depend. But the creation and accumulation of small Capitals, sufficient to enable the working man to enter with advantage on the cultivation of a grant of Land, of the usual extent, is a matter in degree and practicability, much within the influence of our own measures, and it becomes therefore subject of very fit consideration for this meeting, composed of so many distinguished persons, who, returning soon to their respective Counties, may give information respecting those Institutions which are constituted, and likely I trust to be protected, to provide for the safe custody and accumulation of the small savings of the industrious classes of Society.

The greater part of such accumulations may be considered as funds rescued from unproductive consumption, to be laid out productively in various important branches of industry; and whilst, therefore, in this view, the provident Institutions deserve encouragement from all classes, they more particularly suggest to the gentlemen acting in the different Emigrant and Agricultural Societies, and to the employers of Agricultural Labourers generally, the co-operation which may be expected from Savings Banks in encouraging, by enabling, all industrious persons, soon to enter with advantage on the cultivation of the Soil, as proprietors of Land.

The poor Emigrant, for instance, who comes to the country destitute of pecuniary means, and who should always be met and welcomed with a great deal of charitable attention and protection, should be told, that to enter on the laborious enterprise of clearing a Lot, in the wilderness, without Capital, would be to entangle himself in very considerable difficulty. The best course which such a person can pursue, would be to avail himself of the assistance, which it should be a main object of all Emigrant Societies to provide, to procure advantageous employment in which to acquire experience of the climate, habit of Labour, and best modes of culture; and whilst acquiring these, to accumulate his Savings in the Savings Banks, in the manner that any person, who is not burthened with a large family, may soon do, in farm service in summer, and in other pursuits in winter.

This object will perhaps be best pursued by the Emigrant Societies in the different parts, taking active measures to become acquainted with the circumstances and description of Emigrants so soon as they arrive, and entering in a Book, their names, age, trade or occupation, objects, and the means they may possess of pursuing these. From those entries of the circumstances and condition of the Individuals, Emigrant Societies would be competent to give them counsel and protection. If the Emigrant’s desire should be to Agricultural pursuits, which will commonly be the case, but that he has no Capital to commence with, he should be advised to put himself to Farm service, and his attention should be drawn to the facilities which Savings Banks provide for receiving, securing and augmenting his savings; If this measure meet concurrence in its objects and practicability, it will be received as an appeal to the Agriculturists of the Country to keep correspondence with the nearest Emigrant Societies, for the purpose of procuring Labourers of their recommendation.

But although it may not be expedient for a person without Capital, to enter at once on the cultivation of his tract, yet it appears to me that some inducement should be applied to excite his industry by a prospect of an advantageous location so soon as he finds himself capable of undertaking it; and in this view I see no difficulty in the arrangement, and on the other hand, great public advantage, in securing for persons thus working for their capital, locations upon the Lots they may prefer, subject to a condition that, within one year, the Emigrant Society in whose Books they may be registered, report favorably of their proceedings, in a manner to give fair expectation that at the end of a further short period, they would be able to enter upon their location, and pay a proportion of their fees, in aid of which the Society should provide some donation or loan.

But when the Emigrant has pecuniary means, or is resolved to enter at once on his Land, the Emigrant Societies will be enabled to let him choose his situation, in the plans of unoccupied Lots reserved for Emigrants, which plans will for this purpose be transmitted to the Emigrant Societies, and to whose recommendation a quick return of location tickets will be made; and I am happy to say that this measure will be observed and promoted with much ability and zeal by the distinguished persons on whom it will severally depend.

When we reflect that one of the greatest difficulties under which we labour in accomplishing the great purpose of independence with respect to our food, arises from the want a working population sufficient for all the operative parts of our industry, and consequently the very high rate of wages and food, which lays the Agriculturist under disadvantages of the most serious description, in a climate where the productive powers of the earth are so long dormant, we must all concur in the necessity of aiding Societies by whose means so many able hands can be procured, and for want of properly supporting which, so many have passed to a foreign land.

An increased competition or supply of labour then will be much influenced by arrangements such as I have indicated; whilst in its modes, intelligence and material means. It may be greatly promoted by Agricultural Societies. These, under the designation of Agricultural and Emigrant Societies, I should wish to see formed in every Country in the Province, and Sub-Societies organized under them to carry their benefits to all parts of the Country. I trust, indeed, that ere you depart, the foundation, or rather the re-organization of such a system will be completed, and I call upon the Gentlemen of distinction from the different Counties who are now present to concur in this measure, and when they return to their respective Counties, to engage to organize such Societies to be composed of persons who would be most likely to co-operate in this great purpose. I feel confident, that whenever Societies shall be so organized in any County, they will meet the provision which I trust will be made by the liberality of the Country for their support and efficiency: and I perceive with much satisfaction that the public spirit of the Country is in many parts exhibiting itself in the form, and for the purpose which we contemplate for general adoption.

For the purpose of improving, circulating and distinguishing the modes and means must favorable to increased production, and of drawing to a focus that information which it may be desirable to possess here in the Seat of Government for myself and for you it will be proper that some provision should be devised for the laborious part of that purpose which will depend upon a Secretary who should be appointed to manage the correspondence of the Central Committee to report proceedings to the general Meeting.

The general meeting should be comprised of all Members of the Legislature; of all Presidents and Vice Presidents of County Societies, and of all members subscribers in the regulated amount. The Central Committee should be named in the general meeting to carry on the correspondence during the recess, and to arrange the general Accounts, but the appropriation of Public Funds should be made direct to the County Societies and subject only to the audit of the Central Committee. These Reports will thus exhibit a general statement of the sums expended and whether commensurate progress has been made in the improvement of agricultural implements, machinery, modes of culture, augmentation of production, and breed of Cattle, all of which should be under the influence of these meetings.

With views such as these, so soon as I discovered, in studying your affairs, the disabilities and difficulties which the Province might have to contend with from deficiency in the supply of food, and aware that it would require pecuniary means, on my part, to put into activity the plans which I then formed, and now lay before you, I submitted to His Majesty’s Secretary of State the importance of sanctioning a small grant from the funds at the disposal of the Crown, to meet the liberality and public spirit with which I am persuaded, elsewhere and everywhere, the great object now under our consideration will be supported. I have great satisfaction in showing how readily this has been dispensed: I will read the terms of it, and hasten to say that the use I shall make of it, will be, to place a sum, which I hope will be annual, at the disposal of those County Societies that are or may be organized to meet the views which I here lay before you.

In communicating this grant from His Majesty’s Revenue to the Agricultural Societies, it is however my duty to state that the continuation of this grant for future years, will depend upon the report which I may have it in my power to make of the advantages which it may have produced; and these will mainly depend upon the liberality and zeal with which this Provision is seconded in the Country generally.


Written by johnwood1946

September 10, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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