Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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Leaving Home The Crossing

The men and women who sought new opportunities abroad collected information to help in the decision-making process. Pamphlets and immigrant handbooks, often prepared or distributed by colonial governments, were available to the literate. These sources frequently overstated the positive features of the new land and understated those that could be considered unfavourable. Similarly, newspapers printed immigrants' personal testimonies about life in the colonies, often in glowing terms, as well as information on terms of settlement, sailings, and notices of lectures by immigrant agents.
Public lectures hosted by colonial governments were another means of obtaining information on the benefits of life in British North America. For example, James Brown, New Brunswick's emigration commissioner, travelled throughout Scotland, northern England, and Ireland, in 1861-1862, speaking in halls, churches, and other public places on "the character and capabilities of New Brunswick" as a home for immigrants To support these claims, he distributed pamphlets, essays, articles, immigrant handbooks, letters, and maps of the province. Brown focused on farm labourers, domestic servants, and mechanics who were in much demand in New Brunswick. On 12 February 1862, he explained to a crowd at Kirkcaldy, Fifeshire, Scotland:

We want farm labourers and servants of both sexes with a portion of mechanics. Tenants whose leases are about to expire, & who doubt their ability to pay the new rent, ought by all means to sell out their effects and go to New Brunswick. Such persons bringing from ₤200-₤500 with them, could buy & improve to good advantage, farms partly cleared. In short, we want hardy and courageous men and women of good morals, and industrious habits; able and willing to work with their own hands, and who would be content with that plain independence which the country so abundantly affords. Experience has proved that in all parts of the Province, emigrants of this description who came among us poor, or with very limited means, have made good farms, raised large families, and are now in comfortable circumstances.

According to Brown, sound morals, industrious habits, and self-reliance were the characteristics needed for success in New Brunswick.
In Ireland, Brown distributed copies of a letter written by His Excellency, the Rt. Rev. John Sweeny, Bishop of Saint John, encouraging his fellow countrymen to emigrate. At that time, the Bishop was establishing a settlement in Carleton County for Roman Catholic Irish families. The Johnville settlement would be Bishop Sweeny's most ambitious pioneering effort. In addition to materials mentioned previously, personal letters penned by successful settlers to folks back home played a key role in swaying recipients to book passage on transatlantic sailing vessels. Despite all his hard work, Brown's days on the lecture circuit were numbered. The New Brunswick government discontinued this practice due to limited results.