Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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Helping Hands Dominion-Provincial Conferences on Immigration

Post-Confederation Colonization
In the post-Confederation era the matter of nation building took center stage and the search for colonists intensified. Concern that the United States would encroach on Canadian territory to accommodate the American appetite for expansion prompted provincial and Dominion politicians to work together to fill up vacant Canadian lands. Political leaders who favoured a strong central government argued that the Dominion government should be responsible for recruitment. The provinces, particularly Québec, disagreed. A compromise was reached whereby each province could enact legislation to govern immigration, provided these laws did not run counter to those enacted by Parliament. In addition, both the Dominion and provincial governments could advertise and hire immigrant agents to work overseas.
New Brunswick was interested in promoting immigration at this time. Although an estimated 65,000 people entered Canada each year between 1867 and 1870, only about 500 of them came to New Brunswick. To make this situation worse, some of these newcomers eventually moved on to the United States. This concerned provincial leaders, as farmers, farm labourers, and domestic servants were still in demand to fill up vacant lands and provide a boost to the economy.