Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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By 1851, less than 20 years after its founding, Stanley had grown from a campsite into a village. The population of Stanley Parish had increased to 1,010, due to natural increase and to the arrival of a few immigrants from Britain and a larger number of migrants from other parts of the province. Commissioner Kendall's hope of encouraging a sizable chain migration of the original settlers' family and friends had failed to occur.
When the census takers tallied their information in 1851, Stanley Parish boasted 130 homes, two churches, one school, one sawmill, one gristmill, and 149 stores, outhouses, and barns. Residents were engaged primarily in lumbering and farming, the principal crops being hay, barley, buckwheat, beans, turnips, potatoes, wheat, oats, and peas. Boots, shoes, candles, soap, and hats were manufactured on a limited scale. Forty years later, the parish population had more than doubled to 2,406. Eventually, lumbering would surpass farming as the primary local industry due in large measure to the poor quality of the soil.
Yet from the standpoint of the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Land Company, the settlement experiment in the New Brunswick wilderness was a failure. There were limited, if any, financial returns on the shareholders' initial ₤200,000 sterling investment. Lower than expected land sales coupled with the costs of establishing a pioneer settlement and resolving grievances had seriously reduced potential profits.
Other factors worked against the settlement's success. The company had proceeded slowly in constructing and improving roads which hampered development and made travel difficult to markets at Fredericton and the Miramichi. Strong competition from land companies at work in Upper and Lower Canada limited the amount of land sold. As well, the predicted rise in land values failed to occur. In the 1860s the company sold 93,000 acres of forested land to lumberman and railway entrepreneur, Alexander (Boss) Gibson. At the turn of the 20th century, the Alexander Gibson Railway and Manufacturing Company acquired an additional 28,000 acres.
From the viewpoint of the settlers, however, the colonization scheme was a success. Commissioner Hayne took a leading role in putting Stanley on a sound footing. His 23 years of hard work in the parish, before returning to England in 1870, ensured the growth and development of the fledgling communities. His guiding hand was felt particularly in the areas of agriculture, religion, and education.
Hayne's efforts were supported, in large measure, by the settlers' determination to create a new life in a new land. Along with Stanley, Scotch Settlement, English Settlement, and Campbelltown (later renamed Bloomfield Ridge), the company's scheme gave birth to a number of smaller settlements, including Cross Creek, Tay Creek, Williamsburg, and Napadogan. These communities have survived to the present day as a testament to the spirit and determination of New Brunswick's early pioneers.