Report of the Commissioners re: Estate of Daniel Hodgson, Esq, Township No. 23. - 1873
Journal of the PEI House of Assembly for 1870 Appendix X
Report of the Commissioners appointed by the Government to Report on certain Proprietory Estates offered to the Government for Sale with Memorandum of Annual Rent thereof
Estate of Daniel Hodgson, Esq, Township No. 23.
In virtue of the power invested in us by His Honor the Administrator of the Government, in Council, to find out the disposition of the tenantry of Daniel Hodgson, Esquire, on Township Number Twenty three towards purchasing their farms, and also our opinion of the value of the said Estate.
We, after giving due notice to the tenantry of our visiting them met with them, and found out their disposition for purchasing, and the class of tenantry settled thereon; also examined the quality of the soil, and do now respectfully report:
1st. That, to the best of our judgement, the five thousand acres, as a whole, cannot safely be purchased at a higher rate than eleven shillings per acre. We believe, to realize that price, a considerable portion of it will require to be resold to the tenantry as high as fourteen or fourteen shillings and six pence an acre, on account of the Estate being so unequal in value that some of the farms will not be worth over eight or nine shillings per acre.
2d. That the Estate, as a whole, is nothing more than second-class quality, compared with the best estates in the Colony. The shore farms except one or two, we found to be already disposed of, which causes the Estate to be only an inland one, and settled generally with a class of tenantry that are at present in straightened circumstances.
3dly. That we were informed by the tenantry that those of them in better circumstances, have the privilege offered them by D. Hodgson, Esq., of purchasing their farms, whenever they are prepared to accept of it, at fifteen shillings per acre, prompt payment; an amount which we consider the best farms would be little, if any short of, by purchasing the whole at eleven shillings an acre.
4thly. That we found the tenantry unanimous in favor of the Government purchasing the Estate, providing that it could be resold to them at a price that will bring it within their means to accept of it.
All which is respectfully submitted.
WM. S. McNEILL.
Township 23, Nov. 25, 1868
To His Honor Sir Robert Hodgson, Knight,
Administraror, &c., &c., &c.
The undersigned, having received instructions to visit a portion of Township No 23, comprising the Estate of Daniel Hodgson, Esq., lately offered to this Government at 14s per acre, devoted part of Friday last, the 12th inst., to the partial performance of that duty. They were accompanied by Wm. McNeill, Esq., M.P.P., one of the Representatives of the District, whose thorough knowledge of the locality, and personal acquaintance with the people, proved most useful. They visited several houses, conversed with a number of the inhabitants, and directed their inquiries chiefly with a view to ascertaining the circumstances of the tenants, their ability to meet the heavy amount of arrears due - about £750 - as well as the accruing rents, and they did not neglect the opportunity thus afforded them of observing the operation of the leasehold system. Mr. Hodgson’s tenants are nearly all of French origin, many of them speak the English language fluently. Their manners and appearance produced on the undersigned a very favorable impression; and they noted with much satisfaction that, notwithstanding the precarious position with reference to their landlord, occupied by the inhabitants of this Estate, that no seditious or intemperate language escaped their lips. Generally, the people appeared to the undersigned to be well clothed in homespun manufactures; and, as might be expected from the well-known expertness of the men in the use of carpenter’s tools, their wooden dwellings, though small were neither uncomfortable nor dilapidated.
Cooking stoves are in use in most of the houses. The sashes are well glazed; and the floors invariably boarded.
The first house visited was Andrew Biot’s. He holds 50 acres at 1s 9d, and 57 at 1s 6d per acre, long leases. In the case of the latter farm, the original lease had been cancelled, and a new one granted at an increased rate, in lieu of certain unpaid arrears. The land on the latter farm is not very good. Biot thinks he owes £8 on the former farm and £20 on the latter. He has one stack, about 100 stooks, (would produce from 75 to 100 bushels, if good) of oats, unthreshed. His family spin and weave for their own use. He showed some very good hand dressed flax. His family consists of 7 persons. His house is very tolerable; also his barn. He has a two-horse power threshing machine, 5 full-grown cattle, 3 young ones, 3 horses a foal, and a dozen sheep. He has worked a good deal at shipbuilding; but is now disabled. This man, Mr. McNeill informed the undersigned, is one of the ablest of Mr. Hodgson’s tenants. But if the levy of £28 and costs was made on the above property, a large proportion would be swept away.
The next house visited was Peter LeClair’s. His grandfather came from "Old France"; his maternal grandmother from Annapolis Royal, perhaps one of the Acadian Refugees of 1713. He holds 50 acres of good land, rent 1s 9d per acre, long lease; has a good new house, 22 by 18, and kitchen 16 by 12. Three persons in his family. A good but small barn. Has threshed all his oats - consumed or sold them it was understood. He has some wheat remaining - 60 stook - would yield about 20 bushels; has two good cows, for which he paid £7 10 and £5, respectively. He owes two years rent, £5 11s 1 1/2d. Bought flour last year, and expects to buy next summer. There was a hand loom at work in the house. Some hand-dressed flax of excellent quality was shown to the undersigned.
The undersigned conversed with Peter Deurong. He and a brother hold 50 acres at £2 19s per annum. They owe £17 or £18 of rent and arrears. There are 7 persons in one of the families, and 5 in the other, one of whom is a bedridden female, 14 years of age.
The undersigned next visited Louis Durong’s house. He holds 25 acres, at 1s 9d, long lease; and owes £13 17s. Has a poor log house. He has five young children. Has no crop remaining, and owns neither horse or cow. He has a very small stack of straw.
Calling at Andrew LeClair’s, the undersigned found he had been served with a writ; but his landlord had allowed him two months to make up the amount owing, £10. Andrew LeClair is the eldest of a family of 10 sons and 2 daughters. He has 25 acres of good hardwood land, at 1s 9d, long lease. His family consists of six persons. One child is a cripple from the effect of cold. A new schoolhouse is in course of erection hard by. He has been 13 years on this land; 13 acres, so it was understood, are cleared. He sometimes follows fishing; has two horses, 1 milk cow, 7 sheep, one pig. His grain is nearly all consumed, -- has about 200 bushels potatoes. He sold 200 bushels oats, at from 2s 3d to 2s 9d currency. His farm is three miles from sea manure. He sometimes uses fish refuse as manure. His family spin and weave wool and flax. They never buy clothing. The dressed flax and flax yarn they produced were of good quality.
Conversed with Fidele Durong. He has been served with a writ. He holds 50 acres poor, rocky, back land; no firewood or fence poles; rent is 1s 9d, long lease. He owes £27; has 10 or 12 acres under the plough. Last year’s crop was 200 bushels potatoes, seed of which cost him 2s 6d per bushel; 50 bushels oats, from 16 bushels seed, at 3s; 12 bushels wheat, from 4 of seed, at 13 s per bushel. He has none of the crop remaining, except about 100 bushels potatoes. Has been 12 or 13 years on the land. He has paid no rent; has 12 children; is a handy man; works as a mason at 5s per diem.
The undersigned visited two other houses.
One belonged to a young Scotchman, John Fraser, who holds 108 acres at 1s, long lease. This land originally formed two French farms; was covered with hardwood, and is 3 miles from sea manure. Mr. Fraser sowed last spring 100 bushels oats the returns from which were 6 bushels from 1 of seed; also 12 bushels wheat and 8 bushels barley, the returns from which were not given. £20 was owing on one of these farms, and £30 on the other. He had paid, or was to pay, £230 for the possession; but that sum would include the above arrears.
The last house visited by the undersigned, was John Snowey’s, an Aberdeen man, a blacksmith. He bought the improvements on this farm of about 35 acres for £80. The landlord, we were informed, had entered, and the farm had been sold to pay L31 of arrears.
The houses thus visited, and the people the undersigned had conversed with, were Mcneill affirmed, such as might be found on other parts of the Estate. Before concluding, therefore, it is desired to add a few observations upon the foregoing facts. It is evidently not the payment of rent which has caused the poverty of these French families. The accumulation of £750 currency, of arrears is sufficient proof of that.
But it may very fairly be assumed that the leasehold tenure, and their heavy liabilities in connection therewith, which may be enforced at any moment, have depressed their energies, and deterred them from making improvements. Their ideas also seem limited to the object of living from year to year as best they can; suffering sometimes the pinch of poverty, and from the effects of sickness and accident, as observed in several instances. The general exaction of the arrears would, if attempted, lead to the eviction or removal of many of the tenants, and would greatly embarrass even the most substantial, such as Andrew Biot. A most painful subject of contemplation this for any Government, but particularly Your Honor’s present advisers, who, actuated by a sense of public duty, have declined Mr. Hodgson’s offer.
The safest and most legitimate modes of relieving these unfortunate families is, the undersigned feel convinced, that pointed out in the minute lately addressed to the Secretary of State, an independent valuation of all such Estates, and the extinguishing of Proprietory rights by payment of the rates thus ascertained. The evil results to the Colony from the existance of such a state of things as the undersigned witnessed on Lot 23, is incalculable. There may be seen able men and women -- the surest source of Colonial wealth, under happier circumstances -- producing, at best, barely their own food and clothing, adding little or nothing to the general wealth by the surplus of their labor; consuming but a small quantity of dutiable goods; contributing but little except as day laborers to the formation of these public works which the pushing and energetic men of other races in the same vicinity are earnestly demanding, yet industrious after their own fashion, honest, peaceable and law abiding.
As their petition, praying the Government to accept Mr. Hodgson’s offer of his Estate, at 14s, cannot be acceded to, and as the result of the Council’s recent application to the Secretary of State must remain some time unknown, the undersigned are of opinion that, whether the French inhabitants of Lot 23, remain Tenants or not their situation might be improved in many respects.
1st. By endeavoring to improve their practical agriculture.
2nd. By taking advantage of their aptitude for the cultivation and handling flax.
3rd. By inducing the half employed members of their families to engage in domestic, in farm or other service.
The first of these objects would be promoted by a small grant of money -- to be placed at the disposal of a local Committee, --- and perhaps by sending some improved stock from the Government farm into the
district. The second by importing and setting up, in some central situation, flax breaking and scutching machinery. Farmers residing in the vicinity would avail themselves of the skill of their French neighbors, in the management of the flax plant, and dressed flax might shortly become an important article of export. The third object must be left to the good feeling and self-interest of the community. The fact that a dense population, not fully employed, exists in this, and it is believed in other French settlements, -- many of the men possessing considerable skill as artificers --- ought not to be lost sight of by employers of labor.
One other suggestion the undersigned desire to offer, namely the formation of seed grain clubs, in terms of the Act of last Session, on this part of Township No 23, a locality where such institutions seem to be especially required.
The undersigned feel that the task under taken by them was a difficult and delicate one, ---that it has been but imperfectly and hastily performed. To have visited every house on Mr. Hodgson’s Estate, would have occupied more time than they had at their disposal, while to have made minute enquiries into the circumstances of the inmates, might have given offence, and would, perhaps have excited expectations impossible to fulfill.
All which is respectfully submitted by the undersigned.
ROBERT P. HAYTHORNE,
HENRY J. CALLBECK.
Charlottetown Feb’y 19, 1869.
17th June, 1869.
Government Dr. Commissioners for classifying Township No. 23, (Hodgson Estate).
To Peter Sinclair, 2 days and 64 miles
To John Aldous, 2 days and 72 miles
£3 1 4
£3 4 0
£6 5 4
To His Honor Sir Robert Hodgson, Knight, Administrator, &c., &c., in Council.
We, the Commissioners appointed by Your Honor in Council, to inspect and classify that portion of Township No. 23, late the property of Daniel Hodgson, Esq. Beg to report, that the lands are situate on Cavendish Road, Cavendish Shore and Toronto Settlement, and may be considered as of good quality.
That we have made a careful examination of the Estate, and giving due consideration to the position, and contiguity to manure and markets, have arranged the lands into four classes.
A --- 677 acres
B --- 271 "
C --- 2864 1/2 "
D --- 743 1/2 "
We have the honor to be,
Your Honor’s Most obedient Servants,