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Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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Father Jean-Joseph-Auguste Allard Settling In

Beginnings

On 11 September 1932 Father Allard held a public meeting in East Bathurst for anyone interested in participating in a back-to-the land scheme. The previous May, a petition, signed by 60 unemployed male residents of Beresford Parish, had been sent to the Hon. L. P. D. Tilley, then provincial minister of lands and mines, requesting the opening of land for settlement south of Bathurst along the Miramichi Road. The curé continued to press the project over the next couple of months. Following soil testing that found this land suitable for agriculture, 44 lots fronting the roadway were surveyed, and Father Allard submitted a list of names of would-be settlers.

At the 11 September meeting, Father Allard told the approximately 300 men present that 44 lots were now ready to be taken up, but that the provincial government was unable to supply money to help with colonization. A lack of funds had prevented the government from participating in the national back-to-the land scheme, which would have seen a poor family receive $600 in financial aid, $200 each from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. In any event, the municipality of Gloucester was also strapped for funds and would have been unable to participate in the national scheme.

Discouraged and fearful of starving in the forest, none of the men present agreed to take up a lot. Father Allard pressed them to participate, promising to pay for food, implements, and building supplies necessary for start-up himself. This sum, totalling about $400, came out of Allard's own pocket. Additional sums came from private donations. He also agreed to deliver the settlers and these items to the lots personally. With these assurances and no other options, about 40 men, from hundreds of applicants, agreed to follow Father Allard into the forest.