I was contracted by the Board of Trade in London to procure settlers for Nova Scotia in 1749. How much I’ve had to learn! I’ve just seen five ships carrying over a thousand souls leave here from Rotterdam near the mouth of the Rhine for Halifax - my best year so far! It hasn’t been a lucrative business - on the contrary, I’ve lost money and still hope to make it up in future years, now that things are working well. Three years ago I was a young merchant here in Rotterdam. Seeing central Europeans streaming through this port on their way to the American colonies, I became eager to participate in that enterprise.
I was contracted by the Board of Trade in London to procure settlers for Nova Scotia in 1749. How much I’ve had to learn! I’ve just seen five ships carrying over a thousand souls leave here from Rotterdam near the mouth of the Rhine for Halifax - my best year so far! It hasn’t been a lucrative business - on the contrary, I’ve lost money and still hope to make it up in future years, now that things are working well. Three years ago I was a young merchant here in Rotterdam. Seeing central Europeans streaming through this port on their way to the American colonies, I became eager to participate in that enterprise.

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

The Founding of Halifax, 1749

The British founded Halifax in 1749 to strengthen their tenuous hold on Nova Scotia.

Artist: C. W. Jefferys (1869-1951)
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

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


The Board of Trade authorized me to make an offer to foreign Protestants willing to become British subjects. Each man would get 50 acres of land in Nova Scotia, plus 10 acres for every dependent woman and child, and more land as their family grows or as they able to cultivate it. They would also get free subsistence for 12 months, and all the tools, arms, and building materials they will need.

So I sent my agents up the Rhine to Protestant areas of Germany, Switzerland, and France. They reported great interest. The biggest problem was that most people willing to emigrate could not pay their passage. It is common for settlers going to the American colonies to work off their passage once they get there by selling themselves as indentured labourers to local businessmen or farmers, who pay their fare to the shipmaster. By my scheme, the settlers pay off their passage by working for the government of the colony. They are treated better this way than newcomers in the more established colonies. The Governer certainly needs the manpower for building fortifications and other public works. And it gives me an advantage over the competition.
The Board of Trade authorized me to make an offer to foreign Protestants willing to become British subjects. Each man would get 50 acres of land in Nova Scotia, plus 10 acres for every dependent woman and child, and more land as their family grows or as they able to cultivate it. They would also get free subsistence for 12 months, and all the tools, arms, and building materials they will need.

So I sent my agents up the Rhine to Protestant areas of Germany, Switzerland, and France. They reported great interest. The biggest problem was that most people willing to emigrate could not pay their passage. It is common for settlers going to the American colonies to work off their passage once they get there by selling themselves as indentured labourers to local businessmen or farmers, who pay their fare to the shipmaster. By my scheme, the settlers pay off their passage by working for the government of the colony. They are treated better this way than newcomers in the more established colonies. The Governer certainly needs the manpower for building fortifications and other public works. And it gives me an advantage over the competition.

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

drawing

A village on the Rhine, 1836

Artist: J. D. Harding
Sketches by J. D. Harding. London: C. Tilt, 1836. Taken from: Die illustrierten Rhein-Beschreibungen von Michael Schmitt; Köln: Weimar; Wien: Böhlau; 1996.
c. 1836
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The competition! They did everything they could to frustrate my efforts and turn the hearts of my settlers from Nova Scotia. They would meet the emigrants on their way down the Rhine, pretend to be my agents, sign them up, then intimidate them with false stories about Nova Scotia being a barren land where they would have to fight the French and Indians. They’d persuade my people to go to Pennsylvania or Carolina instead. They had bad accounts of Nova Scotia published in the newspapers. They even misrepresented my efforts to the Board of Trade.

With all these obstacles, in 1750 I was only able to send off one shipload of settlers, the Ann.
The competition! They did everything they could to frustrate my efforts and turn the hearts of my settlers from Nova Scotia. They would meet the emigrants on their way down the Rhine, pretend to be my agents, sign them up, then intimidate them with false stories about Nova Scotia being a barren land where they would have to fight the French and Indians. They’d persuade my people to go to Pennsylvania or Carolina instead. They had bad accounts of Nova Scotia published in the newspapers. They even misrepresented my efforts to the Board of Trade.

With all these obstacles, in 1750 I was only able to send off one shipload of settlers, the Ann.

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

Immediately I started preparing for the next year. I had six agents recruiting in Germany, Switzerland and France. I procured passports from the King of Prussia and from the Netherlands to speed up my recruits’ transport down the Rhine. I also made improvements to the shipping arrangements. I had ventilators installed on the ships. And I made changes to the food carried on the ships to make it more suitable for people unused to eating salt meat. I made sure that extra water was carried. Still, it is expected that some people will die before reaching Halifax, as the journey is long - as much as three months - and arduous. We can only try to minimize the loss.

In 1751, four ships of my recruits sailed for Halifax containing a total of 1004 people, 918 of whom survived the voyage.
Immediately I started preparing for the next year. I had six agents recruiting in Germany, Switzerland and France. I procured passports from the King of Prussia and from the Netherlands to speed up my recruits’ transport down the Rhine. I also made improvements to the shipping arrangements. I had ventilators installed on the ships. And I made changes to the food carried on the ships to make it more suitable for people unused to eating salt meat. I made sure that extra water was carried. Still, it is expected that some people will die before reaching Halifax, as the journey is long - as much as three months - and arduous. We can only try to minimize the loss.

In 1751, four ships of my recruits sailed for Halifax containing a total of 1004 people, 918 of whom survived the voyage.

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

View of the Upper Rhein

View of the meeting of the two arms of the Rhine, the Upper Rhine and the Middle Rhine.

Franz Hegi, Johann Hürlimann, Louis Bleuler
Schreiber, Aloys; Hegi, Franz (Ill.); Hürlimann, Johann (Ill.) und Bleuler, Louis (Ill. U. Hrsg.): Ouvrage, representant en 70 à 80 Feuilles les vues les plus pittoresques des Bords du Rhin depuis ses sources à son embouchure dans la mer... Schaffhausen: Bleuler, O.J. (nach 1837). Taken from Der Lauf des Rheines; W. Schäfke and Ingrid Bodsch, eds., Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, Köln 1993.

© Kölnisches Stadtmuseum


As soon as those ships left Rotterdam, I was busy preparing for the next season. Then suddenly at the end of December the Board announced that they wanted no foreign Protestants shipped to Nova Scotia this year. I had already engaged about a thousand persons, some of whom had sold property in preparation for departure. In the end we agreed that I could send 1000 emigrants if they would work off their passage at only one shilling a day, and accept threepence a day to purchase their food in the market rather than having the food supplied through government agents. And I did finally send off these five ships by early June.

P.S. Dick’s contract with the Board of Trade was suspended later in 1752. It was never revived.
As soon as those ships left Rotterdam, I was busy preparing for the next season. Then suddenly at the end of December the Board announced that they wanted no foreign Protestants shipped to Nova Scotia this year. I had already engaged about a thousand persons, some of whom had sold property in preparation for departure. In the end we agreed that I could send 1000 emigrants if they would work off their passage at only one shilling a day, and accept threepence a day to purchase their food in the market rather than having the food supplied through government agents. And I did finally send off these five ships by early June.

P.S. Dick’s contract with the Board of Trade was suspended later in 1752. It was never revived.

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

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Explain how emigration from Germany to Nova Scotia was arranged
  • Describe some of the details of the voyage from Germany to Nova Scotia
  • Describe the role of John Dick in the emigration of German people to Canada, 1750-1752

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