Agreements Are Made
In 1872 the New Brunswick government finalized an agreement with Captain Søren Severin Heller, an immigrant agent for Denmark, to bring settlers to the province. Born in Copenhagen in 1839, Captain Heller had travelled to New York City in 1869, where he probably learned that money could be made by encouraging emigration to North America. Heller worked, at least briefly, in cooperation with the Canadian-owned Allan Line steamship company, focusing his recruitment efforts in the Copenhagen area.
Sometime before December 1871, Heller formed a seemingly loose partnership with George Stymest about whom little is known. He may have been the Saint John insurance agent who had personal links to the immigration office in the port city. This George Stymest died suddenly in January 1875, which would explain his absence from the record after that date. In any event, Captain Heller and George Stymest approached the New Brunswick government in late 1871 with a proposal to bring Danish immigrants to the province.
In January 1872 they reached an agreement with the New Brunswick government whereby they promised to settle 500 Scandinavians on wilderness land. Approximately 200 of them were to be males over age 18. Each adult male was promised a 100-acre lot and a married person with two or more children under 18 years, up to 200 acres. If after three years the settlers had built a house, cultivated 10 acres, and resided continuously on the land, it would be granted to them.
In addition to land, the New Brunswick government agreed to survey lots and supply free transportation to the settlement, as well as temporary housing, roads, and land for a school. The province also agreed to clear two acres on each lot, to pay agents Stymest and Heller $10 per head for each immigrant, and to find employment for adult males for up to two years at a wage of not less than $1.00 per day.
In addition, an agreement was struck with the New Brunswick Railway Company, which was planning to construct a line through the St. John River valley to Québec. The company agreed to employ approximately 300 men at not less than $1.00 per day and promised labourers 30 acres of land for one year of service, 60 acres for two years, and 100 acres for three years on the condition that they settle on the land. Any grants the railway company made to employees would be guaranteed by the provincial government. With these agreements in view, a 20 square mile tract of crown land on the south side of the Salmon River in Victoria County was selected for the Danish settlement. Surveying of the 100-acres lots began in the spring of 1872.