Drawing

Halifax in 1750, a year after its founding

Artist: Thomas Jefferys
Public Archives of Nova Scotia
c. 1750
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


My wife and I landed in Halifax in 1750, exhausted after a long sea voyage. We were quite unprepared for what we would find there. The first settlement had been made only a year before, and it was a rough and chaotic place being built out of the forest. We wanted to get to the land we’d been promised and start building our new home, but that was not possible. The French Acadians living to the northwest and the native people of the land were not happy about this new influx of people, and the Governor was concerned with protecting Halifax against attack. As I owed most of the money for our passage to the British, I was set to work building fortifications. We stayed that winter with other families in barracks, and managed as best we could with the food they gave us - hard bread, salt beef and pork, butter, dried peas, oatmeal, rum and molasses. We were terribly homesick.
My wife and I landed in Halifax in 1750, exhausted after a long sea voyage. We were quite unprepared for what we would find there. The first settlement had been made only a year before, and it was a rough and chaotic place being built out of the forest. We wanted to get to the land we’d been promised and start building our new home, but that was not possible. The French Acadians living to the northwest and the native people of the land were not happy about this new influx of people, and the Governor was concerned with protecting Halifax against attack. As I owed most of the money for our passage to the British, I was set to work building fortifications. We stayed that winter with other families in barracks, and managed as best we could with the food they gave us - hard bread, salt beef and pork, butter, dried peas, oatmeal, rum and molasses. We were terribly homesick.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Map

The British had a tenuous hold on Nova Scotia. Halifax was founded in 1749 as a counterpoise to the French fortress of Louisbourg.

Artist: H. Holm, World-View Digital Imagery Ltd.
World-View Digital Imagery Ltd.
c. 1998
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The next spring we Germans were given small house lots to the north of the main town. The land had been cleared of trees and we eagerly planted a little garden among the stumps - our rations would run out that summer. We built a small house too. But the soil was thin and full of large stones. All the while, I continued working on the fortifications, which were necessary for the colony’s safety. Other Germans were arriving and building villages farther away on the isthmus where a palisade was being built. By the next year, I was free of debt and found work here and there for other people, clearing land. But I struggled to feed my growing family. There were new people arriving who had nowhere to go and the government seemed unable to arrange for everyone’s welfare.
The next spring we Germans were given small house lots to the north of the main town. The land had been cleared of trees and we eagerly planted a little garden among the stumps - our rations would run out that summer. We built a small house too. But the soil was thin and full of large stones. All the while, I continued working on the fortifications, which were necessary for the colony’s safety. Other Germans were arriving and building villages farther away on the isthmus where a palisade was being built. By the next year, I was free of debt and found work here and there for other people, clearing land. But I struggled to feed my growing family. There were new people arriving who had nowhere to go and the government seemed unable to arrange for everyone’s welfare.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

drawing

Town and Harbour of Halifax from the opposite shore called Dartmouth

Artist: R. Short
Public Archives of Nova Scotia
c. 1764
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


painting

Halifax in 1763. The natural harbour is one of the best in the world.

Artist: Dominique Serres
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
c. 1763
35.6 x 50.6 cm
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Thus it was that I was eager to participate in the Governor’s plan to start a new township a day’s sail to the southwest where we could at last have the land that had been promised to us. It was a happy morning on June 8, 1753, when we sailed into Lunenburg Harbour with a flotilla of boats filled with people and baggage, building materials and provisions. As part of the militia, I went ashore early to make sure the peninsula was clear. People had lived there before - there was some cleared land. Under Colonel Lawrence’s direction, we set to work building blockhouses for defense and barracks to live in. But the Colonel’s careful plans could not withstand our eagerness to build our own houses and start the new life we had been dreaming of for so long. Within 11 days, we held our first church service and received our own town lots. By summer’s end, every family had some kind of house and a garden.
Thus it was that I was eager to participate in the Governor’s plan to start a new township a day’s sail to the southwest where we could at last have the land that had been promised to us. It was a happy morning on June 8, 1753, when we sailed into Lunenburg Harbour with a flotilla of boats filled with people and baggage, building materials and provisions. As part of the militia, I went ashore early to make sure the peninsula was clear. People had lived there before - there was some cleared land. Under Colonel Lawrence’s direction, we set to work building blockhouses for defense and barracks to live in. But the Colonel’s careful plans could not withstand our eagerness to build our own houses and start the new life we had been dreaming of for so long. Within 11 days, we held our first church service and received our own town lots. By summer’s end, every family had some kind of house and a garden.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Map

Satellite image of Halifax-Lunenburg area, Nova Scotia.

Artists: H. Holm, S. Gaetz, D. Robinson
World-View Digital Imagery Ltd.
c. 1998
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Map

Satellite view of Lunenburg area.

Artists: H. Holm, S. Gaetz, D. Robinson
World-View Digital Imagery Ltd
c. 1998
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


MAp

Satellite view of Halifax area.

Artists: H. Holm, S. Gaetz, D. Robinson
World-View Digital Imagery Ltd.
c. 1998
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


I wish we had returned to Halifax for the winter, as some did, because it was hard to keep our little house warm. I kept busy clearing our new 30-acre lot outside the town. But it was harder for my wife and the little ones.

The next year, 1754, we put in a bigger garden, including potatoes, flax for oil and linen, oats, turnips and barley. I sold some timber cut from our land to a boat headed for Boston, which brought us useful cash. Some livestock arrived by the end of the summer and was distributed among us. Gardens did not do well that year due to drought. And over the winter many of the animals died for lack of food.
I wish we had returned to Halifax for the winter, as some did, because it was hard to keep our little house warm. I kept busy clearing our new 30-acre lot outside the town. But it was harder for my wife and the little ones.

The next year, 1754, we put in a bigger garden, including potatoes, flax for oil and linen, oats, turnips and barley. I sold some timber cut from our land to a boat headed for Boston, which brought us useful cash. Some livestock arrived by the end of the summer and was distributed among us. Gardens did not do well that year due to drought. And over the winter many of the animals died for lack of food.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Church

Halifax's "Little Dutch Church," built 1754-55. Some of the gravestones mark the passing of original German settlers.

Photographer: Heather Holm
c. 1998
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The year 1755 was one of great sorrow for the Acadians because they were deported from Nova Scotia. Many of their cattle ended up in Lunenburg by various means - a boon for us, especially given our losses over the winter.
The year 1755 was one of great sorrow for the Acadians because they were deported from Nova Scotia. Many of their cattle ended up in Lunenburg by various means - a boon for us, especially given our losses over the winter.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Painting

The Acadians were French Catholics who had farmed the Bay of Fundy marshes for generations, providing themselves with a stable and comfortable way of life. Uncertain of the Acadians' allegiance as the war with France resumed, the British expelled them in 1755 - a tragedy for the Acadians and an economic setback for Nova Scotia.

Artist: Claude Picard
Grand Pré National Historic Site
c. 1987
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The next few years were difficult for our little community. War had resumed between France and Britain. We had to fortify, and defend ourselves from raids by native people and fugitive Acadians intent on terrifying us enough to leave our settlement. And we had some particularly bad weather in those years. But we had come too far to give up now.

After 1760, our community was over the worst. We were becoming self-sufficient. Our economy and our population were growing and spreading out. Our children went to school. After the American War of Independence, Loyalists of German origin settled among us, bringing knowledge of shipbuilding and fishing.

It is good to remember Germany, and reflect on those difficult years when we first arrived here. It gives me a deep satisfaction to know that what I have, I built through my own efforts. And now I can truly say that this is my country.
The next few years were difficult for our little community. War had resumed between France and Britain. We had to fortify, and defend ourselves from raids by native people and fugitive Acadians intent on terrifying us enough to leave our settlement. And we had some particularly bad weather in those years. But we had come too far to give up now.

After 1760, our community was over the worst. We were becoming self-sufficient. Our economy and our population were growing and spreading out. Our children went to school. After the American War of Independence, Loyalists of German origin settled among us, bringing knowledge of shipbuilding and fishing.

It is good to remember Germany, and reflect on those difficult years when we first arrived here. It gives me a deep satisfaction to know that what I have, I built through my own efforts. And now I can truly say that this is my country.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

The Young Shipyard in Lunenburg, v. 1900

The Young shipyard in Lunenburg, v. 1900

Artist: Unknown. Maybe Lewis A. Hirtle
Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
c. 1900
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the conditions new immigrants faced in Halifax in 1750s
  • Describe how the township of Lunenburg was formed
  • Describe the history of Lunenburg
  • Empathize with the emotions of immigrants from Germany to Canada in 1750-1752

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