Diaries & Journals | Immigration Reports | Illustrated London News | Trivia | Frequently Asked Questions
Immigration Report of 1866, Halifax Arrivals
APPENDIX No. 7.
Halifax, 24th December, 1866
The Report which I have now the honour to present on the transactions of the Immigration Department since February last, for the information of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor and members of the Leglislature, contains a narrative of the most extensive endeavors by any Government of this Province to attract a supply of useful labor, skilled and unskilled, with the results of the measures taken.
In my Report of 17th February, I noticed the Minute of Council by which, in view of the great scarcity of labor for mining and agricultural purposes, and in relation to the construction of our public works, Emigration Agents were appointed in London, Liverpool, and Glasgow, who were to be paid $10 per head on every able-bodied immigrant sent out by them, and landed in the Province. The prospects of demand for labor on the railways, from the continual representations of the farming interest, and also of the coal-mining companies, were then so great that there appeared no risk of immediate remunerative employment being wanting for as many qualified people as the Agents were at all likely to procure. I only cautioned them against sending too many at a time; but any number not exceeding three hundred. I did not apprehend would be too many; and if there was a tendency to excess, it was easy to check the movements of the Agents.
A serious disappointment was experienced in the falling off in our coal trade, in consequence of the cessation of the Reciprocity Treaty with the Americans, and the heavy import duties imposed by them upon our coals, effectually checking their consumption in the United States. Otherwise there would have been abundant employment for double the number of coal miners who arrived, at the rates of wages that have been given in this Province for more than a year before. They came depending upon these rates; but as they arrived it was found that there was not employment for one-half of their number in the mining, and the only work left for the majority was filling coal at the pit-mouth—a work to which they had not been accustomed, and for which the pay was comparatively obviously low. They were paid by the quantity of coals filled, and by which a man could earn about $1.25 per day. As regards the mechanics and laborers, all who were able and willing to work very soon got employment at rates equal to, and in some cases higher than, those offfered in the Government bill-posters.
In April, when there appeared reason to fear a depression in the coal
trade, warning was given to the Agents at home against encouraging any
more coal miners to emigrate—stating the reason; and in May this
warning was repeated in stronger terms. By immediate following letters
from this office, it was intimated that the Government bounty of $10
per head would be withdrawn on all miners of every description. And on
19th July, by instruction of the Government, the Agents were
notified that bounties on every class of immigrants should cease. The
immigrants who entered the Province this year may be arranged in three
Little difficulty was experienced with the first class, except with the coal miners, who were greatly discouraged by their disappointment in want of opening for their labor. I have not been able to ascertain the number remaining in the Province; but I am sure that by far the most only remained until they had earned and saved enough money to carry them on to the States, or to return home again. I believe that all the mechanics and laborers of this class are doing well and satisfied, although some encountered difficulties at first. Several of the Cornish miners have done well in the gold fields, where nearly all were employed on arrival. But the most of them having friends and relations in the States, have left to join them; indeed I have been informed of money having been remitted to them, in many cases, to carry them on. Although the wages they obtained were better than those stated in the government poster-bill, the complaints were numerous that they were not nearly so high as had been represented to them before leaving England.
With the second class there was a great deal of trouble, and many of the miners are included in it. They were incessantly complaining; saying that they were much better off at home, and attempting to extort money for aid under many pretences. They dropped away gradually: some by way of New Brunswick, some by the packets to Boston, and others by vessels from the coal pits. They appear all to have gone off after a short trial. The third class was the most annoying of all; professing willingness to work, and withdrawing from every work offered, under various excuses, such as that they had not been used to it, but ready to apply to any other that they were fit for. Fortunately this class was not numerous. While others were eager to leave to Depot, they would have remained as long as they were lodged and fed; and I was compelled to force them out by suspending their rations. I had no cause to enquire after them.
The first arrival of immigrants from Great Britain was by the steamer "St. Patrick," from Glasgow, in March. They consisted of 2 coal miners, 4 agricultural laborers, 1 joiner, 1 baker, and 3 mariners, (returned to N.S.) 1 married woman and 3 children. They required no assistance from me. The miners went directly to New Glasgow, where they were immediately employed to their satisfaction.
The next arrival was at the close of the same month, by the ship "Queen" from Liverpool, of 4 laborers, 4 women and 1 child. They made no report of themselves at my office, and on enquiry being made it was ascertained that they had came [sic] out at the recommendation and by the assistance of friends and relations in the country, who received and provided for them on their arrival.
The arrival succeeding these was of 10 coal miners in April, via New Brunswick, who came by the steamer "Venezia" from Glasgow to St. John. They all proceeded, without a days's delay, to the coal mines at New Glasgow, where they found good employment at the rates of wages expected by them.
On the 7th May 10 miners and 1 farm laborer, from Wales, arrived by the steamer "Asia." They went to the gold-mining districts; and, as I heard no more about them, I concluded they got satisfactory employment.
On the 9th May the ship "Doctor Kane" (see passenger list) arrived with the first large company of immigrants, forwarded from Glasgow by Mr. Alexander Campbell, Emigration Agent there. They consisted of 127 coal miners, 7 mechanics and laborers, with 25 women and 36 children. I found that the demand for coal miners had subsided so much, that there was serious appearance of difficulty in satisfying the men who had come here with the expectations which the condition of the coal business so lately warranted. A number were anxious to go on to New Glasgow, where many had friends and acquaintances—and where all who had previously gone had met with success. They were clamorous to leave; and accordingly 67 men with 15 women and 8 children, were forwarded to that destination. Having received notice from Mr. Belloni, of Cow Bay, C.B., in reply to enquiry by him (as well as of the other Mining Agents) previous to arrival of the vessel, that he could employ from 50 to 100 men, 40 miners expressed their readiness to go there; and they were forwarded, with 7 women and 8 children belonging to the party, by the schooner "Isabella." 20 miners went to Baddeck, under engagement made here, Pictou Railway, and the others got work in town.
On the 25th May, when the immigrants by the "Doctor
had hardly been disposed of, the first shipment of immigrants from Liverpool
arrived by the ship "Mozart," consisting of 141
miners (mostly Cornish men), 64 laborers, 18 tradesmen and mechanics,
8 farmers, 17 women and 19 children. The accounts from the coal mines
were now very discouraging, but the small number of coal miners (31)
were distributed between Cape Breton, Pictou, and New Glasgow, where
they got work on the same terms as these by the "Doctor Kane." The
Cornish miners went chiefly to the gold fields, but a few went to the
coal mines in Cape Breton. These styling themselves "farmers" were
men brought up to agricultural work, who aimed at being foremen,
or farm superintendents; two or three said that they had been small
farmers. The tradesmen and mechanics got employment in town and in
the country. The following is a list of their destinations from Halifax:—
On the 16th July the ship "Havelock" arrived from Liverpool with 120 miners, 56 laborers (of whom about a dozen proved to be of no settled occupation), 3 butchers, 10 engineers, 5 railway carriage builders, 3 clerks, 2 hotel waiters, and 1 file-cutter. The remaining 39 were carpenters, blacksmiths, stone-cutters, shoe-makers, and various other trades; 3 female domestic servants, 34 married women, and 58 children under 12 years of age. Of the miners, 37, being colliers, went to the coal mines—7 to New Glasgow, 14 to Pictou, and 16 to Cape Breton. The others, being Cornish men, went to several of the gold districts, and a few to work at the Battery; 11 laborers went to the railway, and the rest to different localities; Windsor, Truro, Antigonish, Shubenacadie, Wallace River, &c. 73 men, chiefly tradesmen, with a few laborers, go employment in town, and the neighbourhood, several in Dartmouth; and the domestic servants were engaged immediately after landing. The married women and children accompanied their husbands and fathers. Several of these immigrants soon left for the States—partly from being discontented with the wages here, but more especially to join their relations and friends there.
The Cornish miners divided themselves into companies of 10 and 12, and deputed two or three of each, as their representatives, to go to the gold districts and select work for each party. These men were furnished with railway passes and two days' provisions. They all made arrangements for work, in due time returned, and went of with their respective parties. On the 6th of August there were only 43 adults, male and female, with 32 children, left at the Depot. These consisted of people for whom it was more difficult to find employment, and partly of the third class of immigrants previously mentioned. The railway carriage builders were engaged at the Railway Depot.
The ship "Queen" arrived from Liverpool in September with 36 immigrants, viz., 19 miners, 7 laborers, 1 shoemaker, 1 carpenter, 4 of other trades, and 4 women. The men were all inserted into the shipping list as laborers, but on landing they stated their occupations. 14 of the miners went to Waverley and Renfrew, and 3 to Cape Breton. The laborers went to Truro, and the others soon found employment in town and vicinity, with the exception of two that there was difficulty in getting disposed of—one of them a dry goods clerk, and the other a printing compositor; both went ultimately to the States.
Besides all the foregoing, several English and Scottish immigrants, chiefly miners, came into the Province in April, May, and June, from the United States. These received every attention, and were forwarded to places of their choice.
During the whole time, from the first to the last arrival, every means and exertions, were used in the Immigration Office to ensure the best disposal of the immigrants, by application to the coal mines and gold districts; to the Deputy Gold Commissioners, as well as to companies and individuals. Previous to the arrival of each vessel, advertisements were inserted in the newspapers of the number and classes of persons expected; and my Deputy, Mr. Outram, was constantly engaged at the office in attendance on the immigrants, and on persons seeking servants for domestic and agricultural purposes.
The confusion was great on the arrival of each vessel, Several of the immigrants by each did not enter the Depot. Those who had friends and acquaintances here went to them; and a few engaged lodging for themselves. It was with great difficulty that the roll could be called and answered, and that only at meal times or in the evenings; and even at these times numbers were always missing. Another inconvenience arose from a number having shipped or landed under fictitious names, and it was difficult to connect such names in the shipping list with those given on landing. A further annoyance arose from many having designated themselves on shipping as of certain vocations, to which they had no pretentions. Thus we had people styled as laborers, who proved to be weavers and other occupations, for whose services there was no demand, and who were unable to fulfill what they undertook to do.
Much disappointment and trouble was occasioned by many of the farmers, and generally by the most of those who applied from the country for the services of laborers and mechanics. They appeared to think that on each arrival of immigrants they should get servants at reduced rates of wages; while, on the other hand, many of the immigrants had formed the expectation of receiving high rates of wages. Persons wrote for servants, and after their being sent, often rejected them on unwarranted pretexts; such as being too late of arrival, or not exactly suited to them. This conduct has caused much trouble, expense, and disappointment. A special instance of it occurred in the conduct of a person in Cape Breton, who wrote for three miners and six laborers to be sent to him, specifying the rates of wages to be given. These men were engaged and forwarded to the locality; but, on their arrival, he turned them off pennyless, fatigued, and hungry, in a strange country, saying that he had engaged others and did not require them. These men were thrown upon the charity of the people in the neighbourhood, and suffered great privations in wandering to places where they got some assistance. Five got to Antigonish, where a little money was neccessarily sent by this Department for their relief. Six got back to Halifax, and got work at the Batteries; eventually going off to the States.
As far as it is possible to ascertain, the great majority of the coal miners have left the Province,—the most for the States and the few others for Europe. The Cornish miners have mostly gone to the States; but a few of the best description remain; some of whom have done very well by contracts for work in sinking shafts in the gold districts. I have certain grounds to believe that a very great many of these Cornish men had friends already settled in the States who remitted money to them here to carry them forward as already mentioned. This class was of all others the most clamorous in complaints of disappointment. Many declaring that they had been assured two dollars per day at the quartz mining, and that they should be immediately engaged at that rate on landing. No such information ever emanated from this office. The reports I received of the labourers forwarded to the railway were disheartening and provoking. Some who had left for this employment were enticed by farmers to desert while on their journey and take service with them,—and the most of those who went forward proved so inefficient and discontented that Mr. Fleming [Sir Sanford Fleming] finally refused to be at the trouble and expense of conveying any more immigrants from Halifax to places of employment on the line.
From the experience of this year it appears that special inducements to miners, mechanics, and labourers tend to bring to the Province a number of undesirable and unworthy people, of indolent inclinations and vicious dispositions; unthriving at home, and prone to think that any change would be for the better, with no higher wish than to live as comfortably as possible with the smallest amount of work or exertion.
It is no doubt essential that the most extensive and minute information of the Province as suitable to agriculturalists, artisans, miners, and labourers, should be constantly represented to the British public, through means of agents and the press; and, as in anything else, the labour market will command a sufficient supply.
In the early part of the year several British immigrants, as I have already mentioned, chiefly Scotch, came from the States seeking employment; and so long as labour is as much in demand and so well paid for here as in the States there is little danger of wanting an adequate supply from the British population there, who would prefer living in a British Province to a foreign country. For this reason, I would suggest having information sent monthly to the British Consuls, on the demand and renumeration for labour in the Province,—keeping the Crown Lands for settlement always prominently in view,—by printed poster bills, which could be put up in the Consular offices, and by advertisements in papers circulating amongst the British population. Had it not been for the sudden depression in the Coal trade, already noticed, we should have had many miners from the States, besides those who came from England and Scotland, instead of any leaving us for the States.
The class of immigrants most desirable, and most worthy of the notice of the Government, is that of mechanics, and especially small farmers, with some little means, who are accustomed themselves to work. People who, as stated in my report of February 1864, have been brought up with industrious habits, and who will in like manner bring up and train their children; who will work themselves, and employ others also. It is well known that generally the farmers of Nova Scotia are too often deficient in practical as well as scientific agriculture, and consequently the lands are in many places tilled in a careless and improvident manner. That our farmers not only endeavour, in many parts of the country, to get along with as little hired labour as possible,—many depending solely on their own and their family's labour,—but that often some of them (to their obvious loss) leave their farms neglected, and hire themselves, with their carts and cattle, to work for others or in road service; while their lands are standing in need of more than all the pains and attention they could bestow upon them. It is therefore evident that little or no reliance can be placed on them for the regular employment of any large number of agricultural labourers. They rarely think hired help neccessary but in haying time and harvest, when there is always a great cry for field labour. During the intervening season, and winter, they have no willingness to pay for anything to be done. Hence it is that so many farmers sons go to the States for employment, when their parents' farms could be so much improved and increased in productiveness by their well directed labour. Good practical farmers, men who know what work is required on farms all the year round, who, if not scientific farmers, would readily give their attentions to the suggestions of science, would be most valuable accessions to our provincial community. If lands were laid off in lots, 100 or 200 acres each, with one or two acres on each cleared, and a cheap comfortable log-house built, as formerly suggested, they could be sold to immigrants, even to mere labourers, and by agents at home too, on a credit, at prices that would amply repay the expenditure. And these immigrants (of course paying their passage themselves) knowing that the land was their own, and how to work it, from their previous education, would never think of leaving it unless improved and sold at a profit. It is absolutely neccessary for the encouragement of immigrants from Europe, who have no knowledge of breaking up wild lands, to give them some start in their new country; and when they see the commencement made, they would soon acquire the ability neccessary to extend their cultivation.
It may therefore be fairly suggested that a moderate sum be appropriated
to prepare by survey and partial improvement, with roads to accommodate,
a certain number of such farm lots, with the clearances and log houses
requisite for beginning, to be annually ready for parties from Europe
who would buy them either with cash or on credit of a term of years,
which might become the means of drawing hither a most valuable body of
men. This aid being open also to young men of the Province might prevent
hundreds of the best of our youths from exiling themselves from their
I have the honour to be, Sir
Immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia subsequent to 1st March 
TheShipsList®™ - (Swiggum) All Rights Reserved - Copyright © 1997-2015