More than 100,000 Loyalists fled into the Niagara Peninsula and the Maritimes after the American Revolution, including thousands of blacks fleeing slavery. Claire is the great-granddaughter of these Loyalists who fled north. (As mentioned in Those Left Behind, they were from Massachusetts.)
While still in the 13 rebelling colonies, Loyalists were beaten and imprisoned; men were tarred and feathered; and women and children were exiled. Loyalists’ property was confiscated and their houses burned.
After crossing into the Canadian colonies, families lived in refugee camps and faced starvation, disease and lack of proper shelter. Thousands died during their first Canadian winter. The government provided white refugees with supplies during the first spring, but black refugees waited for up to six years.
New Brunswick was founded in 1784, as a split from Nova Scotia, to accommodate Loyalists.
By 1812, what is now Ontario had 60,000 residents originally from the United States.
Photo Credit: Annual Battersea Revolutionary War Reenactment. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license
Although many Americans thought the War of 1812 would bring about the annexation of Canada, the majority of Canadian colonists’ lives were undisturbed by the war. The exception was the Niagara Peninsula, where the Americans burned numerous communities.
The war was a prosperous time for the Maritimes, and in Upper Canada (modern Ontario) merchants raised prices.
Claire’s father died during the Battle of Lundy’s Lane within sight of Niagara Falls. The battle occurred on July 15, 1814, and resulted in 2,000 deaths.
Photo Credit: War of 1812 British line of soldiers preparing to fire. This picture is from the re-enactment at Fort Erie, Ontario. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license
Claire was born in Fredericton, News Brunswick, in 1810. At the time, it was a sleepy village of less than 200 houses, farms and cottages surrounded by forest. The Mi’Kmaq, a First Nations people, lived in a village outside the colonial settlement.
It was/is the capital city. The elite members of society’s lives’ revolved around the government, balls and sleighing parties.
Commercial districts in communities in the 1810s included shops, a blacksmith, a carriage works, a mill and at least one tavern.
Photo Credit: Knoxfordguy at English Wikipedia
In 1810, a quarter of 1 percent of New Brunswick’s forests had been cleared. Communities were isolated and didn’t hear news for weeks or even months. Residents were several years to a decade behind in fashion, and medical knowledge was poor. Doctors were sometimes paid with hay, fish or pork.
Travel was slow. Five or six miles an hour by horse was common, because of the nearly impassable or nonexistent roads. Sixty miles per day was possible sleighing on frozen rivers.
Crime rates were low, and people helped each other when misfortunes occurred.
Colonists were considered American in habit because servants dined with their employers, and children formed attachments to their parents.
By 1824, the entire colony had a bit more than 74,170 people.
Photo Credit: Miscou Island, New Brunswick. Creative Commons Generic 2.0 license
The average cabin measured 16 feet by 25 feet. It had a dirt floor with no foundation, and was drafty, a single story structure heated by a fireplace. It often had no windows, leaving the interior dark and smoky and providing no escape for blackflies and mosquitos.
Frame houses were five to ten times more expensive.
One fifth of incomes was spent on flour.
A typical household included a table, a bed, chairs, a chest, a sideboard, candlesticks, bowls, a coffeepot, bottles, pots, a frying pan, utensils and plates.
Photo Credit: A section of the 19th century living history museum, Kings Landing, in early winter garb, northwest of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Land was cheap but labor was scarce. The entire colony of New Brunswick needed cleared. Farmers could clear an average of four acres a year, but weeds and young trees were a constant problem. Crops were sewn by hand around tree stumps.
In the Maritimes, farmers were often in debt because of the weather and poor soil. It was a perilous life.
Women cared for the children and the garden and were in charge of making clothing, washing, feeding animals, milking and butter churning.
Large families were common – eight to ten children – because people married young. Survival rates were high once children reached their first birthdays, but in the 18th century 25 percent of babies died. This rate declined somewhat during the early 19th century.
Photo Credit: Harvesting Hay, Sussex, New Brunswick. 1880. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Like farmers, fishermen in the 1820s were poor and often on the edge of starvation. The winter of 1816-17 was harsh with a poor catch.
The fishing industry was based primarily in Newfoundland. Boatkeepers owned their boats and equipment and sold their catch to merchants who resided in England or Ireland.
Rising costs and a lack of workers forced boatkeepers down the social ladder and many began to garden.
Photo Credit: Fishing hut, jetties and boats in Loddebo by Brofjorden, Sweden, in 2018. Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Fur trading was a profession on the decline in the 1820s. By 1824, only 24 trading posts remained from 423 at the turn of the century.
A once highly competitive industry, it was controlled by a conglomerate comprised of Hudson Bay Co. and North West Co. The industry was concentrated in Montreal but business was conducted between the St. Lawrence River and Hudson Bay.
Photo Credit: Fur traders in Canada, trading with First Nations people in 1777. Public domain.
Lumberjacking was a winter profession in colonial Canada. And until the mid-1820s, companies could operate without a license.
The best trees were 150 foot tall. Men cut them with an ax, then moved them by horse or ox to a waterway where logs were floated to sawmills.
Lumberjacks often drowned or died of injury.
In addition, farmers supplemented their income by selling lumber.
Photo Credit: Public domain. A group of Wisconsin lumberjacks pose on the side of a river. This postcard was published by Edward D. Deuss in Sheboygan, WI. The card was postmarked June 25, 1915.
Although horses are usually associated with pre-mechanized farming, oxen were preferred by Canadian colonists in the 1820s. The most common names given to oxen were Buck and Bright.
Other animals found on the farm include cows, pigs, chicken and ducks.
Photo Credit: Public domain. Horses in a settlement near Vinnitsa, Ukraine.
During the early 19th century, immigration to Canada came from all parts of the United Kingdom. In 1815, high employment led to emigration notices appearing in Edinburgh for the first time since 1749.
Ships were not required to provide passengers with supplies until 1825. The ships were supposed to carry only 300 passengers legally in 1828, but many ships carried more.
The hold had no light or ventilation. Bunks were arranged in two tiers, six feet square. Ships carried 32 bunks on each side of a 100-foot-by-25-foot hold.
Photo Credit: Tour boats, Korfos Harbour, Thirasia, Santorini, Greece, in 2012. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.