Nova Scotia as a Home for Emigrants

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER I (23) start of chapter

Of Nova Scotia, as a home for the emigrant, it is necessary to write in guarded terms. It has the power of absorbing a considerable amount of labour, skilled and unskilled; but it is not, like other of the British colonies, or the States, capable of withstanding a rush. There was a want of labour in Halifax in the autumn of 1866; and in other parts of the province an addition to the labour supply would have been hailed with satisfaction. Nova Scotia does not present the same inducements to the settler that are offered in New Brunswick or Western Canada; still, there is land, even cultivated land, always to be had at reasonable prices. There seems to be a habit of change common to humanity generally at the Western side of the Atlantic. This does not arise either from caprice or unsteadiness, but from a desire to do better; in fact, to take advantage of opportunities which a new and yet undeveloped country constantly offers to the enterprising and adventurous. Thus the man who has cleared a farm—literally hewed it out of the forest, hears of something likely to suit him better, and he does not long hesitate about putting his farm in the market, and selling it at a fair price. Or his sons, yielding to the spirit of adventure so common to the youth of the country, have gone to sea, or migrated to Canada or the States, and the father has thus lost the physical means of working his land; and he also sells, in order to realise his capital, and perhaps go into some other business. Thus, by this constant process of change, the path is opened to the new comer, who has only to save a little money, bide his time, and seize the wished-for opportunity of becoming the proprietor of so much land in fee-simple, to have and to hold for ever.

The tendency of the young people, not of Nova Scotia alone, but of most of the British colonies, is to push on to the States. Better employment—perhaps more nominal than real—and a wider field for their energies, appear to be the inducements that lure adventurous youth from the natural attractions of home.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America