Government of New Brunswick

The history of agriculture in New Brunswick starts with the colonization of an area called Acadia by the French in 1604. At that time, the native population were living off the land and aside from planting small patches of Indian corn, preferred to wander to eke out a living rather than farm.

The royal palaces of Europe were excited by the reports of early voyagers to the New World. Dreams of empire and wealth tempted the courtiers of the dawning seventeenth century and fired the adventurous spirits of many who saw the possibilities for trade with the Indian population and for the establishment of settlements.

These ambitions, particularly in France and England, would ignite wars and political turmoil for years to come as the struggles for colonial empires swept back and forth across much of northeastern North America. But from this seething cauldron would emerge new nations and a new society.

Although the French had spread out in the land now known as New Brunswick, agriculture was not predominant.

Old records show the settlers grew rye, flax, barley, hemp and corn on the marsh for themselves and their livestock. The census of 1689 compiled by a priest and returned to France showed the Chignecto with a population of 73 men, women and children. They had increased their livestock to 188 horned cattle, 157 sheep and 85 hogs. On 87 arpents (about 130 acres) of land they planted their crops.

Sieur de lamothe Cadillac, who later founded Detroit, visited the area in the 1690's and noted tobacco growing well. He wrote of the soil that "the grass grows to the heights of a man".

A census of 1695 shows the Jemseg area with about 65 acres of land under cultivation, 22 "horned cattle" as well as 50 pigs and 150 fowl. Wheat grew well in the area but swarms of blackbirds landed in the fields and destroyed much of the crop before if could be harvested.

1755 marked the end of France as a colonial power in Acadia. The loss of the Acadia area was greater than was first apparent. Agriculture came to a stop after the initial flourish following the experiment at Port Royal. The Acadians were deserted by their government and lost contact with the homeland. New technology, seed and livestock were not forthcoming and the pursuit of farming languished as many Acadians took to the sea to fish for a living.

This history of agriculture in New Brunswick is taken from a book called "From Humble Beginnings", a story of agriculture in New Brunswick, by E. B. DeMerchant (1983).