PROVINCIAL SOCIETY IN TRANSITION
brooke's concern may have been sharpened by clashes between the Irish and Orangemen. In reporting such episodes at Fredericton, Saint John, and Woodstock in 1847, Colebrooke stressed the importance “of guarding against the adoption of any public measures which would have the effect at this time of promoting an extensive emigration from Ireland, without a corresponding increase of population from other parts of the United Kingdom” .3 Among the public speakers and newspaper men who were vocal on the subject of agriculture we note the Rev. W. T. Wishart, who gave a number of lectures before the Mechanics Institute of Saint John. Speaking in the hall of that body in 1845, Wishart, after showing how the agriculture of Scotland had been raised from a deplorable condition to a high state of efficiency by means of agricultural societies and meetings, the publication of useful practical works, the institution of a professorship of agriculture, the importation of seeds and plants, and the application of chemistry to an investigation of soils and manures, asked why might this not be done in New Brunswick. He declared that in a few years the province would be stripped of its timber, and that our legislators should be devising means by which new resources might be ready to supply the failure of lumber as a staple product.4 The same note was sounded by the editor of the New Brunswick Courier at a time when the end of the old navigation system had given rise to a feeling that Britain had deserted her colonies, and that the timber trade of the province would be ruined, The editorial in question commented favorably on the action just taken by the legislature in employing Professor Johnston to ascertain the agricultural capabilities of the province, but declared that something must be done to carry out Professor Johnston's views, and suggested that the science of agriculture might be introduced into our schools, especially in the country, and that Model Farms, which had proved of advantage in other parts of the world, might be established in New Brunswick.5 The scientist referred to, Professor J. F. W. Johnston, F.R.S., bore witness in his report that in New Brunswick a more general feeling appeared to prevail on the subject of agriculture among all educated persons than he had met anywhere else.6 Professor Johnston's report was a valuable document, although over-optimistic about the agricultural possibilities of the province. It is interesting to note that the year in which it was presented in the legislature the subject of converting King's College into an agricultural school, with a model farm attached, came up for discussion in the Assembly for the first time.
weighted in favour of the colonies” 7 through differential duties. Under the stimulus of the tariff favoring colonial wood, New Brunswick had built up a large trade with the United Kingdom in timber. The rise of a new manufacturing class in England and the trade depression which followed the Napoleonic Wars increased the numbers of those who championed freer trade. In 1821 there was a minor reduction of colonial protection. Others followed, and in 1849 preferential duties were abolished, and the ships of all nations might carry what they would from colonial ports. “All these drastic changes ended the old colonial system. It is hardly putting it too strongly to say that as they virtually all proceeded from English attention to English interests, . . . they constituted an attitude on the part of England to break away from her own empire.” 8 Naturally, the colonies bitterly opposed these changes, and in New Brunswick the lumber trade and the prosperity of the province seemed to face disaster, although possibly the correspondent, who signed the name Paul Jones to an article in the Courier in 1850, saw compensations in the abolition of the lumber preference. The article in question was in the form of a dialogue between Mr. Sharpe and Squire, in which the former set forth his opinion that the results of lumbering were disastrous to the welfare of New Brunswick. “It is a business, Squire, which is based on the most fictitious credit . . . Its foundation is cram and credit, the very worst two words in the English language for a new country.” The workmen were paid in goods and did not know until they settled what price was charged. Often when they settled they were in debt. It was bad, too, for agriculture. When the men should be on the land they were log-driving until the last of June. The crops, put in too late, were poor. Then the farmers cursed the country and said it would produce nothing.9 The Governor also wrote to Grey in 1850: “Your Lordship must not suppose that I myself or that the most intelligent men in New Brunswick look on the stimulus afforded to lumbering by the old protective duties as wholesome in itself, even if it were practicable to continue it. The habits of reckless speculation, and the preference of a wasteful and wandering mode of life to the quiet monotony of agriculture, are among the evils which the protective system has implanted in the province.” 10 When Lt.-Gov. Head opened the session of 1850 he expressed the belief that the effect on New Brunswick of the changes in the navigation laws would not be injurious,11 but the general view in the province was pessimistic, and it seemed to many people that there was now no advantage to the province in remaining a British colony.12 During that session, W. J. Ritchie, a member from Saint John, analyzing Lord John Russell's speech on the colonial policy of England, contended that if England would not depart from her free-trade policy, it was her duty to furnish the colonies with an outlet for their produce which might in some measure compensate them for that which they had lost; and even declared that if England did not so interfere the colonies
would have to choose between annexation by the United States and starvation.13 Hannay has said: “There has been no period in the history of the British Colonies of North America when the tie between them and the Mother Country was so near being broken as during the years 1849 and 1850.” 14 The resentment lasted until it was found that the prosperity of the province had not been impaired by the offending British legislation. “The people of New Brunswick discovered that they could still go on building ships and sailing them, notwithstanding the competition of foreign nations, and that their market for the timber of the country bad not been seriously injured.” 15 In all the British North American colonies, however, one result of Britain's new trade policy was the emergence of the idea that closer commercial connections with the United States might prove advantageous,16 and in the early years of the fifties the question of Reciprocity became one of the controversial topics of the times.
panies for the building of two railway lines.20 These circumstances may have helped to prompt the above expression of pride and confidence. We can make some allowance, too, for the note of complacency, by remembering that in 1837 New Brunswick, by contrast with Upper and Lower Canada, seemed a model province, “the brightest pearl in the chaplet of British American provinces” ,21 and fulsome self-praise was therefore in order. Unfortunately, the capital referred to was limited, and the business enterprises were on a small scale. Several of Lt.-Gov. Colebrooke's dispatches refer to this lack of capital and to the hampering effects of such limitations. In 1841, after making a circuit through the remote counties of New Brunswick, Colebrooke wrote: “The extent to which progress of the Americans has been accelerated by means of British capital obtained through the public credit is contrasted with the little encouragement in this way which the British Provinces have derived since the revolution; and the obvious inadequacy of their own means to the object, and their relative weakness compared with the neighboring states, have led the colonists to feel that the time has arrived when the realization of the advantages from British connection ought not to be longer delayed.” 22 Five years later Colebrooke wrote: “It is thus that in New England every Township is the seat of some manufacture suited to the locality and which is the source of the prosperity of the people of every class by creating a demand for employment and a market for produce, while in New Brunswick it is remarkable that with the exceptions of the encouragement given for the erection of mills for sawed lumber and some grist mills there has been scarcely an attempt made to establish any kind of manufacture —the peasantry being dependent in many cases on their own rude contrivances for the most ordinary conveniences.” 23 It would seem, therefore, that the early interest in railways in New Brunswick was not a direct result of the Industrial Revolution, but was an indication that the isolation of the province was breaking down, the continental pull was making itself felt, and a belief was beginning to prevail, especially after 1850, that prosperity depended on having the province fit into a progressive North American scheme of things.
and learning were brought in to make reports, or to lay new foundations. We have already mentioned Professor Johnston. From 1838 to 1842 Abraham Gesner was engaged in making a geological survey of the province. Engineers, engaged to make surveys for the proposed railways, contributed to the technical knowledge of the colony. From Scotland came James Robb, a man of science, culture, and experience in travel, to serve as professor at King's College from 1837 to 1861. When at last Governor Colebrooke's cherished scheme of a Training School for teachers came to tardy fruition, Marshall d'Avray, a polished and cosmopolitan gentleman, was imported from England to be the first master, and remained in the province in various educational capacities until the day of his death. In 1854, Upper Canada and Nova Scotia lent Egerton Ryerson and William Dawson respectively, to act as members of a commission investigating King's College and New Brunswick education. These men, as Superintendents of Education in their respective provinces, had studied the best educational systems of the United States, and Ryerson had also visited Germany. Dr. J. C. Webster has said “Those whose vision never pierces beyond the confines of their own land are utterly unable to form an estimate of their own development, because they are lacking in standards of comparison” .25 By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, there was no excuse for the leading men of New Brunswick to plead ignorance of what other countries were doing in education. Even second-hand glimpses of what lay beyond the province could not fail to stir a spirit of reform. We find, therefore, that at the close of this period the most intelligent men of New Brunswick were quick to extol science, to give lip service at least to the idea of education for all, and to rejoice that they lived in an age of progress. Over against this, however, was the great weight of indifference which characterized a large proportion of the population. To the definitely poor, and there were many such, education seemed too much of a luxury to be considered at all. Others, in better economic circumstances thought of progress in terms of material gain, were skeptical of the value of a better education than they themselves had had, as a means of “getting on” , and strongly opposed any change which would mean a greater expenditure for schools. The existence of such attitudes meant that the most active of educational reformers in New Brunswick could, like Lincoln, “advance only a little ahead of the slow-moving mass be sought to draw after him” .26
added to it. When the pudding does not boil furiously, it must simmer longer in the pot. Responsible Government, a Training School for teachers, the reform of King's College, the adoption of the assessment principle, were questions which for years agitated, but did not convulse, the province. A people to whom cataclysm is unnatural will hail compromises, half-measures, and petty improvements as lengthy strides in the march of progress, and thus will postpone the improvement of conditions which require remedy.
absorbed in the political struggle. While L. A. Wilmot served on education committees time after time in the eighteen-forties, his position as one of the leaders for political reforms demanded his best talents and much of his time. The same might be said of Charles Fisher. Moreover, with so many important constitutional issues hanging in the balance, even the most personally unselfish legislators hesitated to push unpopular questions, such as assessment for schools, lest they jeopardize, not only their own political careers, but also the cause of political reform. This negative effect of politics on education was perhaps more marked in New Brunswick than in the other British North American provinces, because here the achievement of full responsible government was such a long drawn-out process of fits and starts, retrogressions, delays, and half-measures.
the province. He suggested that the schools of the Eastern States should be studied, and a competent person engaged to organize a corresponding system in New Brunswick, and stated that “it would be impossible to find in the history of any country a precedent for such a system of jobbing, gross corruption, electioneering and bribery, as our Legislators have introduced into their mode of making School and Bye-road appropriations” .34 Tilley, it is true, was in opposition to the government of the day, but there is evidence arising from other sources that he did not greatly exaggerate.
^1. P. A. of Canada, C0188, Vol. VIII, Harvey to Russell, Sept. 8, 1840, Disp. 66.
^2. Ibid., Vol. IX, Colebrooke to Stanley, Feb. 16, 1842, Disp. 20.
^3. Ibid., Vol. X, Colebrooke to Grey, July 30, 1847, Separate with Dispatch 73.
^4. Wishart, pp. 9-12.
^5. The New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, Feb. 2, 1850, Vol. 8, No. 36, p. 2.
^6. Johnston, p. 3.
^7. Lower (2), P. 103.
^8. Ibid., p. 104.
^9.The New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, Jan. 26, 1850, Vol. VII, No. 35, p. 1.
^10. P.A. of Canada, C0188, Vol. XI, Head to Grey, March 31, 1849, Disp. 32.
^11. Hannay (1), Vol. 2, p. 132.
^12. Ibid., p. 138.
^13. The New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, March 23, 1850, Vol. 8, No. 43, p. 2.
^14. Hannay (1), Vol. 2, p. 130.
^15. Ibid., p. 138.
^16. Lower (2), p. 106.
^17. Ibid., Footnote on p. 104.
^18. Martin (2), p. 361.
^19. Martell, p. 56.
^20. Hannay (1), Vol. 2, p. 31.
^21. P. A. of Canada, Can. Misc., Delancey-Robinson Papers, Vol. 1, Smith to Harvey. Dec. 26, 1837.
^22. P A. of Canada, C0188, Vol. 9, Colebrooke to Russell, July 15, 1841, Disp. 37.
^23. Ibid., Vol. 10, Colebrooke to Grey, April 27, 1847, Disp. 33.
^24. Baker, p. 58.
^25. Webster, Foreword to The Distressed Maritimes, p. 4.
^26. Parrington (2), p. 156.
^27. Bailey A. G. (1), p. 8.
^28. Hannay (2), p. 173.
^29. Martin (2), p. 358.
^30. Smith, Wm., p. 244.
^31. Hannay (1), Vol. 2, p. 48.
^32. Ibid., p. 78.
^33. P. A. of Canada, C0188, Vol. XI, Head to Grey, May 20, 1848, Disp. 27.
^34. The New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, Nov. 10, 1849, Vol. 8, No. 24, p. 2.
^35. See pp. 77, 78.
^36. The New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, March 9, 1850, Vol. 8, No. 41, p. 1.