Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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The New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Land Company

Situated on the Nashwaak River, 24 miles north of Fredericton in York County, Stanley was a planned community, built in the New Brunswick wilderness by merchants, entrepreneurs, and gentlemen with guidance from the British and colonial governments. Thomas Baillie, commissioner of crown lands and surveyor general of New Brunswick, has been credited with developing the plan that brought the village of Stanley to life.
In 1831 Baillie encouraged a meeting of London merchants and others at a London tavern to discuss colonization of British North America. This subject was very much on the minds of politicians, businessmen, farmers, tradesmen, and labourers alike in the opening decades of the 19th century. The British Isles experienced an economic depression in the 1830s and 1840s, a consequence of war, a drop in manufacturing, poor crops, and declining markets. Growing unemployment accompanied by a rise in population led to a land shortage which resulted in overcrowding in cities and towns.
The poor and destitute as well as tradesmen and farmers looked to the British colonies to improve their lot. Some had access to pamphlets and immigrant handbooks that described life in pioneer settlements across the Atlantic and opportunities to acquire cheap land and make a fresh start. Many tenant farmers and day labourers booked passage on transatlantic sailing ships bound for Halifax, Saint John, and other North American ports. An estimated 1.2 million people from the British Isles immigrated to British North America, between 1815 and 1860, many to become permanent settlers. Several hundred of them made their way to the banks of the Nashwaak in York County, New Brunswick where they created the pioneer community of Stanley.