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Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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Father Allard Requests More Lots Continued Growth

Le Comité des Prétres Colonisateurs du Diocése de Chatham

In 1934 Father Allard's resettlement project received strong backing from le Comité des Prétres Colonisateurs du Diocése de Chatham of which he was president. Organized in 1933 by His Excellency Bishop P.-A. Chiasson to help hundreds of Catholics in northern New Brunswick establish themselves on the land, the committee represented the communities of East Bathurst, Saint-Isidore, Paquetville, Sainte-Thérése, Petit Rocher, Val d'Amour, Baker Brook, Saint-Jacques, and Saint-Joseph-de-Madawaska.
In February 1934, Father Allard wrote Premier Tilley, on the committee's behalf, stating that the rapid population increase in the northern counties necessitated the immediate opening of settlement lots. Les prétres considered it both a civil and a religious duty to provide people with land in their own country and to help them live a productive and moral life. They requested a meeting with Premier Tilley and offered their assistance in enabling "good, honest bona fide citizens" of Gloucester County to follow the motto of "back-to-the-land."
The committee's request was considered, but no action was taken immediately. Premier Tilley was unable to find a convenient time to meet with its members, and he expressed his disapproval of the forcefulness of Father Allard's letter. By mid-summer of 1934, however, the government had surveyed about 44 new lots which were quickly taken up. By late fall, the number of families stood at approximately 100. To assist the colonists' efforts, the provincial government again supplied them with seeds and some food.
Also in August 1934, the federal government discontinued its matching grants formula in direct relief. In its place, a new programme of grants-in-aid to the provinces was introduced, which was based on "need and the ability of the province to deal with the problem." These grants were received monthly; however, because the amount paid was based on the sums spent by each province under the old matching grants scheme, New Brunswick's share was small. Of the $68,000 the three Maritime Provinces received monthly under the new scheme, PEI's share was $2,125; New Brunswick's, $25,000; and Nova Scotia's, $40,875.