Inverness Miners' Museum
Inverness, Nova Scotia

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The Broken Ground: A History of a Cape Breton Coal Mining Community




When the settlers arrived at their destinations they were usually in a desperate state. Many landed with few material possessions and were at the mercy of government officials and authorities. Suffering from the long voyage, with limited supplies and provisions, they appealed to the Provincial Governor for support. The Lieutenant Governor was not obligated by law to provide for the settlers' needs but usually complied due to the need for population growth. To sustain the colony governments required people to work the land and build communities. To this end the leadership of colonial governments did whatever was possible to keep the immigrants. A case hi study is an episode in 1791. In 1791, two vessels carrying 650 settlers arrived with insufficient provisions and clothing to sustain survival in the harsh climate. It was the fall of the year and many were contemplating leaving for other destinations, especially warmer ones. The Lieutenant Governor of the day was the Honourable John Parr. The following letters deal with the plight of the settlers and the Government's attempts to populate the Province. Document 1 is a letter written by Lieutenant Governor John Parr to the Right Honourable Henry Dundas, one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, dated 27th September 1791.


I have the honour of informing you that lately six hundred and fifty persons have arrived at Pictou in the Northeast part of this Province, from Glasgow. In general, they are in a wretched condition, the greatest part of them are at this time in want of sustenance, and that number will daily increase.

As the funds of this Province are so assign'd (assigned) and secured by Law for several purposes, that I could not from thence procure them any relief; I have been obliged, on my own credit to furnish them with Provisions to save their lives, and to prevent their Emigration to South Carolina, whither they have been strongly solicited with considerable encouragement to go; And I flatter myself with the Expense which I shall so unavoidably incur on this extraordinary Occasion will be Repaid.

I have Advis 'd (advised) these people to disperse themselves in different parts of this Province, that by their labour they may obtain somewhat toward their support; And I shall endeavour to point out such places to them as are most suitable.

I have the honour of enclosing to you a copy of a Memorial presented to me in their behalf and I request Sir, to be informed what, or whether any allowance of Land shall be made to them.

I have the honour to be, with the Utmost respect.


Your Most Obedient & Most Honourable Servant


J. Parr


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