Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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Danish Immigration Agreements Are Made

Attracting Immigrants
In the early 1870s New Brunswick was seeking immigrants with agricultural skills to settle on wilderness land, and Danish farmers were looking for free land and a new start. Government officials deemed Danes suitable candidates for immigration, as they were Protestant, had strong agricultural roots, hailed from a northern climate, and were deemed sober and industrious. To encourage immigration, Benjamin R. Stevenson, New Brunswick's newly-appointed surveyor-general, prepared a pamphlet setting out the province's suitability as a destination for prospective immigrants. Henry Hertz, the Dominion government's emigrant agent in Scandinavia, distributed these pamphlets across Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. He also kept in contact with agents from the Allan Steamship Line and advertised the availability of free land in Canada in Scandinavian newspapers.
Coinciding with Hertz's work, in the spring of 1873, the Dominion government sent former cabinet minister William McDougall to Copenhagen to encourage emigration to Canada. He organized assisted passages for poor settlers and paid European agents a bonus, if they would encourage emigration to eastern Canada rather than to the western United States. The settlers' passage was facilitated by the rise of the steamship, which shortened ocean travel from six to eight weeks to 10 to 14 days and made it more comfortable and healthier. Yet despite, bonuses, assisted travel, and better accommodations aboard ship, McDougall's success, and that of his successor, Hans Mattson, who worked from Sweden, was less than dazzling. They attracted only 293 Scandinavian immigrants between 1874 and 1875. Consequently, the Dominion government closed the Scandinavian agency in 1876.