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NOTES AND COMMENTS WEALTH AND PROSPERITYIN NOVA SCOTIAN AGRICULTURE, 1851-71 A characteristic featureof theAtlanticCanadianeconomythroughoutthe twentiethcenturyhasbeenrelatively lowpersonalincome,highunemployment , and aloss ofpopulation through netout-migration. Thetide ofoutmigrationbegan as early as the 1870s,when personalincomesin the Maritimeregionalreadywerelowerthan in centralCanada)The deep historical rootsof regional'underdevelopment' naturallydirectattentionto thepre-Confederation eraand,in particular,toagriculture - thesinglemost extensive economicactivity. Most recent discussion of early Maritime agricultureemphasizes its positiveaccomplishments. Alan Brookes, for example,describes the 1850s and 1860sasa period of modestprosperity basedon risingagricultural prices,the growthof the potatotrade,and access to the Americanmarket under Reciprocity? Bill Acheson remindsus that per capitaagricultural productionkeptpacewith thatof NewEnglandand Quebecfrom 1851to 1871.s AlanMcNeildemonstrates thatin 1861theoutputofindividual farms in NovaScotiarivalledthosein Ontario. 4A rich and growingliteratureof We aregratefulto the SocialSciences andHumanitiesResearch Councilof Canada for financialsupportof thisresearch andto thestaffs of thePublicArchives of Nova Scotiaandthe DalhousieUniversity Archives for valuableguidance. We have benefitedfrom discussion withBillAcheson, BobAnkli, RustyBittermann,Keith Cassidy, Ian Drummond,PhilGirard, JimIrwin,MarvinMcInnis,Rosemary Ommet ,LarsOsberg, RichardReid,Fazley Siddiq, JamieSnell,participants at the 1992 meetingof theCanadianHistorical Association, andthe editorsandrefereesof this journal.We aregratefulaswellto Bittermann, JulianGwyn,andSiddiq,whoshared various unpublished datawithus. 1 AlanBrookes, 'The GoldenAgeandthe Exodus: The Caseof Canning,King's County,'Acadiensis 11,1(autumn1981):57-82;KrisInwoodandJimIrwin, 'CanadianRegional Commodity IncomeDifferences at Confederation,' in Kris Inwood,ed.,Farm,Factory andFortune: NewEssays in theEconomic History ofthe Maritimes(Fredericton: AcadiensisPress1993); Patricia Thornton, 'The Problemof Out-migration fromAtlanticCanada,1871-1921,'Acadiensis 15,1 (autumn 1985): 3-34 2 Brookes,'The GoldenAge' 3 T.W. Acheson, 'The Conditionof Agriculturein NewBrunswick on the Eveof Confederation,' in Inwood,ed.,Farm,Factory andFortune, 37-60 4 Alan McNeil, 'Cultural Stereotypes and Highland Farmingin EasternNova Scotia,1827-1851,'Histoire sociale/SocialHistory 19,37 (May1986):39-56, and 'Society andEconomy in RuralNovaScotia,1761-1861'(PhDdissertation, Queen'sUniversity1991),chaps4 and 5 Canadian HistoricalReview,LXXV, 2, 1994 0008-3755/94/0300-0239 $01.25/0¸ University ofTorontoPress Incorporated 240 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW communitystudiessuggests that the rural economyin at leastsomeareas continued togrowthroughout thepre-Confederation era?Onesuchstudy byBittermann,McKinnon,andWynnexamines twocommunities in which theproportionof ruralfamiliesableto supportthemselves fromtheirown farms increased from 1851 to 1871. 6 Of course, evidencedrawnfrom individualcommunities isaninadequate basis for generalizingaboutthe regionasa wholebecause theregionwasso diverse. 7Anotherrecentarticlein thisjournalundertakes thedifficulttask of makingsomegeneralstatement aboutpre-Confederation agriculture in the wholeof NovaScotia. Julian Gwynand FazleySiddiqprovidea profoundlypessimistic appraisal usingastheir principalevidence theaverage value ofestates thatentered thelegalprocess ofprobate. 8A cross-tabulation ofestate sizewiththeageandoccupation of thedeceased appears toshow a decline in farm wealth from 1850-2 to 1871 after adjustingfor price 5 RustyBittermann,'Middle River:The SocialStructureof Agriculturein a NineteenthCenturyCapeBretonCommunity '(MA thesis, University of NewBrunswick1987 );Rusty Bittermann,'The Hierarchyof Soil:LandandLabourin a 19thCentury CapeBretonCommunity,' Acadiensis 18,1 (autumn1988):33-55, and 'Economic Stratification andAgrarianSettlement: MiddleRiverin the EarlyNineteenthCentury,'in KenDonoran,ed., TheIsland.' NewPerspectives on Cape Breton History, 1713-1990(Fredericton: Acadiensis Press 1990),71-88; Stephen J. Hornsby,Nineteenth Century Cape Breton: A Historical Geography (Kingstonand Montreal:McGill-Queen's University Press1992);DebraMcNabb, 'LandandFamilies in HortonTownship, N.S.,1760-1830'(MA thesis, Universityof BritishColumbia1986),and 'The Roleof Land in SettlingHorton Township ,NovaScotia,'in MargaretConrad,ed.,MakingAdjustment inPlanter Nova Scotia,17.59-1800 (Fredericton:AcadiensisPress1991), 151-60; Alan McNeil, 'MobilityandRuralSociety inAnnapolis Township, NovaScotia, 1760-1861,' in DonaldH. Akenson, ed., Canadian Papers inRuralHistory, vol.9 (1994),239-58 6 Rusty Bittermann, Robert McKinnon, andGraeme Wynn,'Of Inequality and Interdependence in theNovaScotian Countryside, 1850-1870,' Canadian HistoricalReview 74, 1 (March 1993): 1-43 7 T.C.Haliburton,History ofNova Scotia, vol.2 (1829;Belleville: Mika1973), 358-9;J.W. Dawson,Scientific Contributions toward theImprovement ofAgriculture in NovaScotia (Pictou:Dawson1853),7;RobertMcKinnonandGraemeWynn, 'NovaScotian Agriculturein the "GoldenAge":A NewLook,'in Douglas Day, ed., Geographical Perspectives ontheMaritime Provinces (Halifax:Gorsebrook Institute1988),47-60; GraemeWynn,'The Maritimes: The Geography of Fragmentation andUnderdevelopment,' in L.D. McCann,ed.,A Geography of Canada (Toronto: Prentice Hall 1982), 156-213 8 PublicArchives of NovaScotia(PANS),RecordGroup(RG) 48.Siddiqpioneeredtheuseof thesedataduringhisdoctoral research; seeFazley Siddiq, 'The Inequalityof WealthandItsDistribution in a Life CycleFramework,' (PhD dissertation, Dalhousie University1986) and 'The SizeDistributionof Probate Wealth-holdings in NovaScotia in theLate19thCentury,'Acad/ensis 18, 1 (autumn 1988): 136-47. NOTES AND COMMENTS 241 change? A statistical regression onthesame dataappears toindicatethatby the 1860sfarmershad losttheir abilityto accumulate wealthastheygrew older? ø GwynandSiddiqconstrue the patternof probatewealth-holding asevidencethat NovaScotianagriculture reacheda Malthusian impasse in the sense thattherewasnomorelandtosupport furtherexpansion. Theyargue thatNovaScotianagriculture degenerated intoasubsistence activity withno potentialfor wealthaccumulation anda decliningcapacity tofeedthe provincialpopulation...


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