Until the beginning of the 20th century, Acadian communities, as we know, were quite self-sufficient: they produced locally most of the articles they needed for the home. While many things were made by the family itself, a good number came from craftsmen who had particular skills. In fact, the work of some craftsmen was essential at the time for the daily functioning of many villages.

For a long time, in fact virtually until the Second World War, every village had a blacksmith’s shop. Well known in the community, the blacksmith was an indispensable craftsman in the agricultural world. A forerunner of the mechanic and the veterinarian, he saw to manufacture of certain told and domestic articles, he shoes and treated horses, and sometimes put on the hat of cartwright, fashioning wheels and fixing carts.

If the blacksmith was normally present in most rural Acadian communities form the early 19th century, certain categories of craftsmen only appeared at a later date. Such is the case for example of the tinsmith, who became a familiar presence only at the end of the 19th century. A forerunner of the plumber, this artisan of sheet-metal, besides manufacturing Read More
Until the beginning of the 20th century, Acadian communities, as we know, were quite self-sufficient: they produced locally most of the articles they needed for the home. While many things were made by the family itself, a good number came from craftsmen who had particular skills. In fact, the work of some craftsmen was essential at the time for the daily functioning of many villages.

For a long time, in fact virtually until the Second World War, every village had a blacksmith’s shop. Well known in the community, the blacksmith was an indispensable craftsman in the agricultural world. A forerunner of the mechanic and the veterinarian, he saw to manufacture of certain told and domestic articles, he shoes and treated horses, and sometimes put on the hat of cartwright, fashioning wheels and fixing carts.

If the blacksmith was normally present in most rural Acadian communities form the early 19th century, certain categories of craftsmen only appeared at a later date. Such is the case for example of the tinsmith, who became a familiar presence only at the end of the 19th century. A forerunner of the plumber, this artisan of sheet-metal, besides manufacturing a vast number of articles (sinks, pails, cans, tubs, etc.), was often a heating specialist. He took care of the sale of stoves and the manufacture of chimney pipes, which he also installed himself, at his customers’ homes. A distant cousin of the blacksmith, the tinsmith’s function was more regional then local, since he spent most of his time alone in a large area.

Throughout the years, the work of some craftsmen was greatly affected by industrialization. Cases in point are the Acadian woodworker and the barrel-maker. This last turned out chiefly, in Acadia, barrels intended for the exporting of fish. Essentially manual during the 19th century, the introduction of sawmills made his work highly mechanized in the 1930s.

To match the craftsmen to their tools follow this link and choose the craftsman Game.

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.

The broom-maker in the Acadia of old did not perform this task on a full-time basis. He would make them for his own use of for extra income.

Village Historique Acadien

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


In Acadia, barrels made locally by the cooper until the Second World War served chiefly for the exportation of codfish, salted and dried, to Europe and the West Indies.

Village Historique Acadien

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


From the 1850s on, the tinsmith's work began to show the influence of industrialization. To such an extent that by the early 1900s, he manufactured few articles. His craft is then restricted to making stove pipes and the repair on tin articles sold in the general store.

Village Historique Acadien

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Cart and buggy wheels would wear out quickly on the rough roads on the 1800s. To garantee their sturdiness, the cartwright or the blacksmith set them in an iron rim which was placed on the wheel when hot, to shrink to a tight fit as it cooled.

Village Historique Acadien

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Beyond the economic and social contribution of craftsmen like the blacksmith of the tinsmith, Acadian communities relied also on a group of storekeepers who offered them a selection of products, a market for local production, and, of course, jobs for several persons.

Deprived of financial resources by the Deportation, Acadians long had to rely upon British merchants to export their local production and import products not available in their area. According to the size of the community and the period considered, few commercial outlets were found in Acadian villages. For instance, while a few communities had fish dealers, lobster canneries of other important industrial establishments such as sawmills, this was not the case with most Acadian communities during the 19th century. The fact remains that from the second half of this century, many villages, particularly those lucky enough to lie on the route of new railroads built during the 1870’s, enjoyed a commercial boom. More Acadians were then seen to go into business to take advantage of certain services, those of a miller for instance, as travelling time became shorter.

At this time the general merchant, Read More
Beyond the economic and social contribution of craftsmen like the blacksmith of the tinsmith, Acadian communities relied also on a group of storekeepers who offered them a selection of products, a market for local production, and, of course, jobs for several persons.

Deprived of financial resources by the Deportation, Acadians long had to rely upon British merchants to export their local production and import products not available in their area. According to the size of the community and the period considered, few commercial outlets were found in Acadian villages. For instance, while a few communities had fish dealers, lobster canneries of other important industrial establishments such as sawmills, this was not the case with most Acadian communities during the 19th century. The fact remains that from the second half of this century, many villages, particularly those lucky enough to lie on the route of new railroads built during the 1870’s, enjoyed a commercial boom. More Acadians were then seen to go into business to take advantage of certain services, those of a miller for instance, as travelling time became shorter.

At this time the general merchant, quit probably the most frequently found merchant in Acadia, was becoming more and more common in Acadian communities and offered an alternative to the stores of wood and fish companies. Also more numerous than before, innkeepers and hotel owners now could hope to welcome a new category of travellers into their facilities: tourists. In the more important Acadian centres, barber shops, restaurants, even banks, started to appear, but for the typical Acadian village of the early 20th century, such businesses were still rare.

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.

With the prosperity of the fishing industry in the 1800s, the Jersey fish merchants exert their hold on the economy of many Acadian communities. Their representatives keep a watchful eye on the interest of their employers.



For a long time, the fish merchant exerted a great influence in some Acadian communities. Many Acadians worked for him or owed him money.

Village Historique Acadien

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


Barber shop [location unknown, Acadian Peninsula?]

In the early 1900s, some Acadian communities enjoyed the services of new businesses such as barber shops.

PANB
early 20th Century
P20-291
© PANB


The tavern-keeper was by no means the priest's best friend, but he enjoyed many visits from travallers and villagers. In the second half of the 19th century, he was also a favorite target for temperance societies trying to outlaw the consumption of alcohol.

Village Historique Acadien

© Village Historique Acadien, Province of New Brunswick, 2003. All Rights Reserved.


The variety of goods available at the general store in the early 1900s was much better than it had been in the past. More prewrapped products such as well as a vide assortment of canned goods.

PANB
early 20th Century
P22-171
© PANB


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • illustrate why the work of craftsmen was important to Acadian communities;
  • explain why Acadia communities also relied on a group of storekeepers.

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