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Page 35 - The Separatist Movement in Cape Breton

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/12/1 (367 reads)

very tight about that. Britain didn't want Cape Breton coal to find its way to New 'England because if it did, this would cause industry to grow in New England which would compete with Britain. Nor did they want industry to grow in Cape Breton, because that again would compete with the mother country. So Britain was worried a- bout the whole situation of coal and the mining. And I think this is one reason why Britain did not want land grants to be giv? en out, in case they were on coal. This is probably the principal reason she closed Cape Breton after the fall of Louisbourg (1758) and up until 1784--'he just closed Cape Breton to all settlement, period--be- cause she was worried about the mines. So coal in that case was a blessing, but it was a curse at this period. (Take me back a little bit. From 1763 to 1784 Cape Breton was part of Nova Scotia. Then in 1784 it was a separate colony, un? til 1820. How did it fare in the years it was on its own?) The bit that's been writ? ten about that period--the Cape Breton col? ony has got bad press. It's largely be? cause Richard Brown, who wrote the History of Cape Breton in 1869, was very hard on it. He was a gentleman--by that I mean he wasn't an historian. He was in charge of the General Mining Association here. And after he retired, he went back to England and he went to the Colonial Office records, and he wrote this history. He got bits and pieces, from what I can see in his his? tory- -and if you look at those sources and don't do a regular work on it, it would ap? pear that the colony suffered a great deal more than it did. Becaus.e the colonial rec? ords are letters of Lieutenant-Governors complaining about the situation here. In my research, I've found that until about 1800 the colony has a very difficult time getting itself set up. Very, very diffi? cult. First, you had an empty colony--very few people here. And then suddenly, it is said that a colony can be started here-- and a few people begin to come: Governor Desbarres brings over 120 people from Eng? land; Abraham Cuyler brings in no more than 300 or 400 loyalists. The supplies are minimal. Halifax gives one boat to help settle the colony so they can unload their supplies--but otherwise sends no food supplies, absolutely no help. And the locals allege that this is Halifax again trying to prevent the island from advanc? ing. Jealousy. Ship captains are saying this. Governors are saying this. You could say this is a biased view. But I would sus? pect that at the very least, Halifax was not interested in what was going on here. And it is on the record that Halifax was not happy to see the whole province of No? va Scotia cut up in 1784--New Brunswick taken away. Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton. Anyway, you've got these poor people set? tling here. It is a myth that loyalists were all upper class. This isn't true. A lot of very simple people conscientiously could not rebel against their King. And Atlantic Ocean The COilony of Cape Breton ' divided i,nto Counties, from a map enclosed in a letter from Macarmick to Granville dated Aii'ust' 1789, copied by Alex D. Maclean, 1942. Desbarres brought from England artisans, carpenters, stonemasons. So, very little money here. No House of Assembly, so taxes can't be raised--this comes from the Ameri? can Revolution; no taxation without repre? sentation- -so they can't raise any taxes without a House of Assembly. So all the colony gets is a small allotment every year--a few hundred pounds--from London. There are salaries being given to the civ? il servants and the military who are sta? tioned here--but as far as public improve? ments are concerned, that's all there is. So you've got a class of people who are not wealthy, and a lot of them begin to move away--especially loyalists. Not get? ting any government assistance, supplies run out. There's no money being put into the mines to develop them--so they don't flourish, and consequently business is not as good as was expected if the mines were producing. (And the governor of the colony keeps changing. How many do we have from 1784 to 1820?) Thirteen. (So, no decent administra? tion here.) No. No one to watch over the Executive Council who, as it turns out, are fighting among themselves. They, in ef? fect, become the Legislative Assembly. They are not elected, but it is as if the Cabinet, today, became the debating centre, became like Parliament, and was split down the middle, as Parliament is. They'd fight among each other, and the Governor would dismiss them for fighting, and he'd get a (35)
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