Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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The Irish Helping Hands

Calling all Farmers
In the 1850s, the number of immigrants arriving in the province was declining. New Brunswick showed little interest in promoting immigration, at this time, even though the province hoped to recruit farmers and farm labourers for vacant lands as a means of strengthening the economy and preventing encroachment by the United States. However, Moses H. Perley, New Brunswick's emigrant agent, did prepare A Hand-Book of Information for Emigrants to New-Brunswick, which was published in 1857. He pointed out that crown land was sold at public auctions in each county every month. Newcomers could obtain a lot for as little as 2 shillings 5 pence sterling per acre, discounts being available to those paying the full amount at the time of purchase.
Perley also explained that government legislation, enacted in 1849, provided that if a small group of settlers applied for no more than 100 acres each, the applicants could pay for their lots by performing road work and paying survey costs. The passage of both the Labour Act and the accompanying Commutation Act in the House of Assembly were seen as a godsend by poor immigrants and local residents alike who had little hope of otherwise acquiring land. Many, if not most, of Bishop Sweeny's settlers took advantage of these statutes when they established Johnville in 1861. Of course, immigrants who arrived with money in their pockets could purchase farms for sale, which, according to Perley, meant that they would soon find themselves "in easy and independent circumstances, and the greater number [they have] in family, the better off [they] will be."
In addition to Johnville, several other rural communities were established in Carleton County during the 1860s. Glassville was created by Scottish Presbyterians, under the leadership of the Rev. Charles Gordon Glass, and Knowlesville, by Nova Scotian Free Baptists, headed by the Rev. Charles Knowles. It was also at this time that James Brown, New Brunswick's emigration commissioner, made his tour of Scotland, northern England, and Ireland, attracting a few newcomers to the province.