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Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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The Company's First Colonization Effort The English Emigrants Arrive

Juvenile Immigrants

Commissioner E. N. Kendall was willing to offer London's pauper children employment in the Stanley settlement. He called a public meeting in Fredericton for early January 1834 to see if residents wished to organize a local committee of the Children's Friend Society to bring juvenile immigrants to the province. Both The New Brunswick Courier and the St. Andrews Standard opposed the suggestion, the Courier claiming that the children were "depraved" and "vicious" and, therefore, more suited for a "convict colony." Kendall argued that London's "illegitimate and pauper children" could be reformed and rendered "worthy and industrious members of society".** His arguments received enough support, so that the necessary committee was organized.

As well, in March 1834, the New Brunswick House of Assembly passed an act to promote and regulate juvenile emigration from Great Britain to the province. This move supported Kendall's scheme and answered employers' increasing demands for cheap labour. A shortage of workers in the province had, over time, raised wage rates and lowered profits. The 1834 legislation, intended to remain in force for two years, empowered a three-member commission to "import" young British immigrants, to act as their guardians, and to bind them to "respectable" individuals. Boys were to be apprenticed until age 21; girls, to age 18. The commissioners' duties and the administrative details of these agreements were also set out in the act.

On 16 April 1835, about 35 boys and one girl, under the care of school teacher J. Charles Forss, boarded the sailing vessel Hinde out of London for the transatlantic voyage to New Brunswick. Forss had decided to immigrate to the province, and a few of these boys were to become his apprentices. Most of the other children, however, would initially find homes in Stanley with the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Land Company. Soon after their arrival in the province Forss reported:

The boys attracted great attention at St. John's (where labour at present is in great demand;) several gentlemen and respectable tradesmen expressed a wish to be supplied with boys through the Children's Friend Society, and it is the option of J. V. Thurgar, Esq., as well as myself, that a great number of boys might be apprenticed (much to their advantage) in this province. I am now anxiously awaiting the arrival of E. N. Kendall, Esq., to arrange about forming Committees. The boys behaved themselves in an orderly manner on the passage, and I have no doubt that they will do well.***


The committees Forss referred to may never have been organized. Moreover, despite his optimism, the arrival of this party of children in 1835 failed to initiate a major juvenile immigration scheme in the province. Over about three years, perhaps 39 or 41 boys and 1 girl made the journey to New Brunswick seeking employment. Few of these children remained long in the Stanley area. Of Forss's 1835 group, only three of the boys - John Harvey, John Thomas, and Henry Bendell - were known to still reside in Stanley Parish in 1851. All were recorded on the manuscript census for that year as farmer/lumberer.

Some of the juvenile immigrants were treated well by their employers, but others were not. A few of them did achieve much success in their new life. For example, John Thomas became a well-known gardener and Richard Bellamy (1825-1892), a surveyor, a lumberman, and a member of both the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.

** Quoted in "Emigrant Recruitment by the New Brunswick Land Company: The Pioneer Settlers of Stanley and Harvey" by Bruce S. Elliott, Generations, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Winter 2004), pp. 52 and 53.

*** Quoted in The Golden Bridge : Young Immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli, Toronto : Hignell Book Printing, 2003, p. 68.