What Enticed So Many to Leave Home

In Britain land was held by peers of the realm who housed their workers on their estates. These employees were subject to the rules of the land owner who could dismiss them with or without just cause leaving a worker and his family homeless and no source of income.

The loss of jobs resulting in the Industrial Revolution resulted in many labour intensive tasks being abolished leaving the manual labourers little hope of finding a new position.

At this time Britain imported more from the Canadas than they exported. Ships arriving from Quebec laden with furs and timber were forced to take on 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 possibility of filling departing vessels with emigrants solved two problems, populating the Canadas and providing ballast for the return trip to Quebec.

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 hold information meetings as well as 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, often 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) as 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.