The Depression Deepens
Social and economic conditions worsened in Gloucester County, in 1933, as the Depression deepened. In early summer, some of the settlers were granted a reprieve through a little income earned doing roadwork and cutting lumber. This money was much needed to pay living expenses in the winter, when credit was difficult to obtain and inadequate roads made it almost impossible to haul wood out of the settlement. On 5 August, however, the situation took a turn for the worse, when an early frost destroyed much of the settlers' first crop. Some families were able to salvage a few barrels of potatoes. A number of them, however, failed to save anything at all.
L. P. D. Tilley wrote to Father Allard, in December 1933, requesting information on the condition of Gloucester County's poor. Allard reported that the situation was desperate throughout the county. Without sufficient food, people were too weak to work. In a few instances, children had nothing to eat but ferns and wild plants. Undernourished children, Allard knew, were candidates for tuberculosis. Father Allard also noted that some residents were inadequately clothed for the cold weather and that a few adults and children had nothing to wear. How can a man go out to work, the curé asked, when he as to borrow a coat or pants or shoes?
Frequently, those who worked in the woods cutting pulpwood and hardwood were inadequately compensated for their labour. Some individuals received only $.75 per cord for pulpwood, and others even less. Still others were paid in goods at retail prices, which they could not afford. In December 1933, Father Allard estimated that he had spent $2,000 of his own money to maintain the Allardville settlers since the colony's founding. More funds and land were necessary to ensure the settlement's survival and meet the needs of the poor. But who could supply these necessities?