THE SETTLERS OF “YE TOWN OF CANARD” (May 20/08)

In 1758 and again in 1759, the governing council of Nova Scotia issued proclamations in the Boston Gazette stating that the opportunity was presented for “peopling and cultivating …. lands vacated by the French.” The proclamation might have been misleading since some 54 settlers who signed up to come to Nova Scotia possibly expected to dwell in an area where there was a town.

In the Public Archives of Nova Scotia is a document from 1759 containing a list of approximately 54 settlers who were destined for “Ye Town of Canard” in the Kings County township of Cornwallis. The document is listed in the bibliography titled New England Planters in the Maritime Provinces, and it is a preliminary list of persons prepared to settle in Kings County.

As mentioned before, while the bibliography contains only a summary of each document, this is enough to get a few glimpse of the early Planter period in Kings County. Some of the summaries tell a tale or two, some tell us settlers may have had misconceptions about what they would find here, such as believing a town might exist in Canard.

One of the documents indicates that during the American Revolution, some of the Planter settlers in Kings County expressed sympathy with their country of origin. It appears that Nova Scotia’s governing council had grounds to be concerned. In the Archives is a notice date early in 1778, requiring that “all persons in Kings County who have not taken an oath of allegiance to King George III must do so before the end of June.”

But enough of this serious stuff. Farm animals running wild and untended must have been a problem early on in Kings County. In the Archives, for example, is a document called an Act of the Grand Jury of Kings County from the year 1776. Said document states that no boars may run at large in Kings County between June 1 and December 31. Farmers allowing boars to run wild faced stiff penalties.

Sheep must have been a problem in that time as well. A similar document from 1777, also an action of the Grand Jury of Kings County, (which indicates the seriousness of the problem was) states that sheep being moved from one township to another must be marked and inspected.

Possibly creatures of the wild, as well as roaming domestic animals, were a problem for the Planters in the early days. A couple of documents in the Archives refer to bounties being paid in 1788 for bear, fox and wildcat skins. A 1797 document states that the bounty on bearskins was discontinued in that year.

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