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Colony to Canada

19th Century Settlement

After The Loyalists

About the time the Loyalists were settling in, the French Revolution came along and the next thing, in January 1793, Britain went to war with the new French Republic. Wars need men, in the army, the navy, and in making all the things the army and navy need. When there were jobs at home, there was no great need to emigrate to a wilderness that had to be cleared of trees before you could farm the land.

Timber Colony

Well, actually, there was one need, all those trees. The Napoleonic blockade cut Britain off from her normal supply of masts, spars and timber from the Baltic countries and she turned west to her few remaining colonies in North America.

Nowhere were the consequences of the Napoleonic blockade and the colonial timber preference more marked than in New Brunswick. Exploitation of the province’s forests increased enormously after 1805, and in forty-five years the province was transformed from an underdeveloped backwater of 25,000 people to a bustling colony of 190,000 with a “reputation for commerce and enterprise.”[1]
To travelers and residents alike, it was evident that the timber trade had built the towns of Saint John, Chatham, St. Andrews and Fredericton. The forest industries supplied a market for the produce of provincial farms and offered the New Brunswick farmer the opportunity of off-farm work in the winter. (page 34)

Graeme Wynn’s book is a fascinating look at the geography, the economics and the developing forest technologies and how this all influenced immigration and settlement.Settlement and Opportunity in a Timber Colony, pages 79-86 examines the cost of land, domestic animals and establishing a farm, which rose steadily, and contrasts this with the opportunities to make money in lumbering. The bibliography is excellent and the notes point to further sources of information on life in the growing colony.

After Waterloo - June 18, 1815

When a war ends, soldiers are disbanded, ships decommissioned, and officers put on half pay. The army and navy cut back on purchases, everything from ships and cannons to cloth for uniforms and food for the troops. The weaver, the tailor, the miner and the farm labourer are all affected as jobs disappear. Emigration starts to look like a good idea.[2]

In The Historical Atlas of Canada, Vol. II, plates 9 and 10 show the trans-Atlantic immigration 1831-1851, and population growth to 1851. Between 1831-1836 New Brunswick received 31,000 immigrants, between 1846-1851, 38,900 arrived. In these years much of the trans-Atlantic migration to New Brunswick was into the port of Saint John, and much of it was from Ireland, though many Irish also came to the Mirimichi area to work in the timber trade.

The Historical Atlas, Plate 11 illustrates “Timber Production and Trade to 1850”, and plate 12, “Agriculture in Atlantic Canada, 1851”, both with special reference to New Brunswick, the data being derived from the 1851 census. A careful study of these, and other related plates gives a good idea of how the population of New Brunswick grew, and who did what and where. The hay grown on the farms in southern New Brunswick fed the horses that worked in the northern woods, and some of the wood went into building ships (plate 16) to carry the timber to markets across the Atlantic. Often the ship was sold as well as its cargo.


Plate 25 shows “the Emergence of a Transportation System” and here you see the importance of the shipping routes, the limits of stage coach service, and “travel times from Liverpool, England”. Many ships sailing from Great Britain to the American colonies departed from Liverpool and it was here that several Maritime Province shipping firms established branch offices, or partnerships with British firms. It may be where your sea-captain ancestor found his wife.

Where Did They Come From?

The genealogist’s problem in these years of population growth is “Where did they come from?” Let’s start with some of Alan Rayburn’s place names:

Cardigan: 15 miles north west of Fredericton. PO North Cardigan 1913-1918. Settled 1819 from Wales.[3]

English Settlement: 2 miles south of Stanley. Immigrants from Northumberland, England, settled in 1836—English Settlement: PO 1860-1897 in Highfield. See also Pearsonville.

Pearsonville: 12 miles north west of Sussex. PO Pearsons c.1885-1897, W.W. Pearson first postmaster. Joseph Pearson settled 1823 from Cumberland, England. Formerly part of English Settlement. English Settlement: see Wayerton.

Wayerton: 16 miles north west of Newcastle. PO c.1885-1970. John Way, first postmaster. John Way was a settler c.1820 from England. Formerly called English Settlement.

Irish Settlement: 11 miles north west of Sussex. PO Thomond c.1885-1914. Settled c.1824, Irish Settlement:see Waterloo Corner.

Waterloo Corner: 15 miles west of Sussex. Settled 1819 by Irish immigrants who had fought with Wellington at Waterloo 1812 [sic]. Also calledIrish Settlement.

Irishtown: 7 miles north Moncton, PO 1859-1967. Settled 1821. Irishtown.

Seaview: In Saint John, 9 miles south west of city centre. PO Pisarinco West c.1893-1903; PO Seaview 1903-1914. Formerly called Irishtown.

Scotch Lake: 16 miles west of Fredericton. PO c.1889-1915. Settled 1820 by immigrants from Roxburgh and Dumfries, Scotland.

Scotch Ridge: 8 miles north west of St. Stephen. PO c.1885-1921. Settled 1804 by Reay Fencibles from Sutherland, Scotland.

Scotch Settlement: 10 miles north of Moncton. PO c.1885-1935. Settled c.1835 by immigrants from Scotland and Cape Breton. Scotch Settlement: former settlement, 6 mi SE of Stanley at Tay River. Settled c.1835, but soon abandoned.

Scott Brook: Flows north into Robinson Creek at Murray Corner. Named for Adam Scott, a settler 1834 from Scotland.

There is a lot to be learned from these place names. You can see that many of the emigrants in the first half of the 19th century came from the British Isles. Places named “German…” were settled before 1800, and New Denmark was only founded in 1870.

  1. Wynn, Timber Colony, page 33. The quotaiion is from the Royal Gazette, 6 October 1841.
  2. Hoffman, Frances, and Ryan Taylor, Across the Waters: Ontario Immigrants' Experiences 1820-1850 (Milton, Ontario: Global Heritage Press, 1999). The first four sections relation to the causes of emigration, and the voyage, apply equally to the Maritimes and are worth reading.
  3. Thomas, Peter, Strangers from a Secret Land: The Voyages of the Brig Albion and the founding of the First Welsh Settlements in Canada (Toronto: U of T Press, 1986). Has extensive passenger lists.

Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at <br>

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