The First Winter
Almost immediately after the settlers had entered the forest, Minister Tilley wrote to Father Allard, confirming that his government was unable to offer the settlers funds to assist with the colonization project. This placed the welfare of the colonists in jeopardy, as they had no harvest to rely on for food and no funds of their own to buy provisions. Moreover, the amount of wood they were allowed to cut on their lots would not generate enough income to sustain them. Father Allard knew that something had to be done quickly or the colonists would starve and the colony fail.
Father Allard had given the settlers permission to cut down four acres of timber on their lots the first fall and to sell it to support their families. Some of them had done so, only to receive between $.50 and $1.00 per cord from mill and lumber operators. Allard was incensed by the poor treatment the colonists received from corporations and local business owners. To ensure that they were compensated fairly for their wood, Allard agreed to act as intermediary between the settlers and the lumber merchants. In a number of cases, he obtained upwards of $1.25 per cord.
Allard also tried to obtain direct relief for the most desperate families from the municipality, and the local almshouse commissioner agreed to help, but demands for aid continued to increase. Father Allard had little choice, but to purchase food for the starving out of his own pocket and from private donations. A few of the settlers had been hired to work on the roads in the fall, which provided them with a little income. Over all, the Allardville colonists who remained in the settlement suffered greatly during their first winter. Without money, supplies, implements, and, in some cases, adequate housing, some of them became discouraged and left, but enough stayed to resume their efforts in the spring.