The Treaty of Paris signed by England, France, Spain and Portugal divided up the North American Colonies between these powers.
France ceded all its possessions in North America, except Louisiana and the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in the mouth of the St. Lawrence, to England. Unlike the custom of the time, the French settlers’ land, religion, and laws were guaranteed by the British Government.
Thus began preparation for establishing England’s presence in the Canadas. Rawdon was the ninth British settlement in the newly granted Canadas, the third one on the north shore of the St Lawrence River. The other two were in the Pontiac region and north of Quebec City.
In 1783 Richard Holland, a government surveyor, subdivided each of the first two ranges of the Township of Rawdon into 28 lots of 200 acres each.
As new settlers arrived more ranges were surveyed, Joseph Bouchette being one of the earlier surveyors.
The British Government promoted settlement in the Canadas for several reasons. A threat of invasion from the newly formed United States made it essential to increase British presence in the Canadas. These fears were soon justified by the American invasion of 1812.
Another important reason was the industrial revolution in Great Britain left many families jobless, moneyless, starving. Those in rural areas fled to already congested urban districts seeking employment and shelter. Many found neither. This overcrowding of the urban areas created extremely unsanitary conditions. Cholera and typhoid were rampant. No one was safe.
Britain was also in a serious financial predicament; after years of consistent warfare in the American colonies as well as European neighbours, the government purse was empty.
In desperation, the government chose to promote emigration to the colonies not only to increase their presence there but to increase their purse at home. Studying the government finances it was found settlers in the colonies contributed three times more to the government purse than citizens living in Britain. This cemented the resolve to promote emigration to the newly acquired Canadas.
Britain imported more from the Canadas than they exported ships arriving from Quebec with furs and timber were often forced to take on non-paying ballast for the return trip across the Atlantic. (The Chateau Frontenac was built with bricks used for ballast and acquired free of charge the only cost being the removal of the bricks from the dock to the construction site.)
The British government promoted a campaign to promote emigration. Men such as George Heriot, who served as Deputy Postmaster of British North America, were encouraged to publish books citing the advantages of emigration.
Imaginative hucksters seeing the possibility of profit toured the countryside with printed pamphlets and talks on the benefits of emigration to Canada. Many never having travelled to North America, the information was usually less than fact, even downright fraudulent. One promoter told prospective emigrants that in the Canadas there was no need to buy sugar, (a luxury which many could not afford) you only had to drill a hole in a tree and the sugar poured out!
Moody and Trail, husbands of the Parr sisters, Catherine and Susan, were influenced by one of these travelling promoters when they attended a talk in their area. Their experience was less than stellar.