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The Scottish Tradition in Canada
The Scot as Businessman
David S. MacMillan

When a rigid structure collapses the pieces can be put to use. This was a tenet of the old engineering theory as propounded in the early nineteenth century, but it also has validity in the field of "social engineering." There are few more striking examples of its applicability than the way in which the Scottish society, in increasing flux from the early eighteenth century onwards, provided a class of men of enterprise that played a role, entirely out of proportion to its small numbers, in the promotion of mercantile and industrial concerns not only in Scotland, but also in North America, the West Indies, and the East.

Until the end of the seventeenth century, Scottish society was much more static than that of England, Holland, and France. The middle class of traders was small, and lacked political influence in a country dominated by landed and semi-feudal magnates. Economically, Scotland lagged far behind Western Europe, and even in the first two decades of the eighteenth century showed little sign of fulfilling the destiny that lay in store - the achievement within years of a new role in the forefront of European culture, commerce, industrialization, finance and economic thought. It was a remarkable transformation, and in no field can its workings be observed more clearly, and in such illuminating detail, than in the British North American colonies which were eventually to confederate. That is one reason why the role of the Scot as businessman in the early phases of Canadian history is so important. These colonies were an easily available laboratory for early Scottish mercantile experimentation, and the specific character of Scottish enterprise is clearly revealed in its colonial application.

For Canada, just as much as for Scotland, investigation of these "mercantile men" who came out from their homeland in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is valuable and important, for the Scots were to imprint indelibly their methods, "mores" and outlook on the whole commercial and economic life of these colonies. Recent studies in Canadian business and entrepreneurial history have shown clearly that they were predominant and pre-eminent in trade, commerce and industry, and their influence as well as that of their descendants has largely moulded the economic outlook of Canada.1

Yet in this business role the Scot has been surprisingly neglected. With the exception of the fur trade, the only aspect of Scottish enterprise to attract the attention of historians, little basic work has been done on the work of Scottish entrepreneurs in the general trade of importing and exporting, in banking, in ship-building, the vitally important timber trade and the establishment of manufactures.2

This chapter will attempt to survey, in brief form, the activities of mercantile Scots in the whole area to 1900 and to elucidate the motivations of the men concerned. It will also attempt to gauge the characteristics which they brought with them, and their operating methods and techniques. The subject is a two-sided one, for it investigates not only Scottish influences in Canada, but also the effects which these Canadian activities had on the attitudes, aspirations, and the various regional economies of the homeland. If the Canadian experience reflected strong Scottish influence, it also exerted a "counter influence" on Scotland itself.

The main problem facing the traders and merchant burgesses of the small cities and towns of Scotland in the seventeenth century was the lack of overseas markets for their hides and fish and other primary products. As Professor S.G. Lythe has shown, marketing was difficult, with demand constantly fluctuating on the continent. In the later part of the century, as the standard of living, at least for nobility, gentry and burgesses, began to rise, there developed a demand for colonial produce and for trade with colonial areas. This demand was difficult to meet, since Scotland, with no colonies of her own, was precluded from trade with the flourishing English colonies in North America and the West Indies. The Scottish social system in the seventeenth century was fairly rigid and static, as far as the lower groups were concerned, but an interesting change in the pattern of land ownership had begun well before 1650. Small estates, all over the country, and particularly in the Lowlands, were tending to be absorbed into larger estates, and numerous members of the lesser gentry, faced with rising living costs and fixed returns in rentals from their lands, were selling out to the greater gentry or the landed nobility. This "displaced gentry" frequently sought employment in the armies of Sweden, Holland, Muscovy, and the German states as mercenaries, or settled in the "Plantation" of Ulster. A considerable number also took up various lines of trade, manufacture, or the professions in the towns, thus augmenting the embryo middle class of merchant burghers.

This early period saw the first glimmers of Scottish interest in North America, as the Scots sought for outlets for their produce and a share in England's promising colonial ventures. In 1620 a group of seven of the "principal merchantis" of Glasgow put together a fund of money, which they invested in an English North American venture, the Newfoundland Company, established in Bristol and London in 1609, and chartered by the Crown in 1610.3 The Scottish investment in this joint stock company brought slight return, the major beneficiaries being the shipowners of London and Bristol, but the Scots continued to be interested in Newfoundland and its fisheries, seeing in the island a loophole in the tight English colonial system, for there was great legal uncertainty regarding the exact status of the area. Some English authorities-at-law held that Newfoundland was "no true plantation, but a part, nay, a mere extension of His Majesty's good realm of England," and since Scots were, in fact, allowed to trade openly with England, though not with its colonies, the island seemed to afford a useful outlet for budding Scottish enterprise.4

Yet the weakness of Scotland as a potential trading and colonizing power was shown by the failure and confusion which resulted from the ambitious schemes of Sir William Alexander, later Earl of Stirling, who projected the feudal domain of "New Scotland" or Nova Scotia, and of Lord Ochiltree, with his even more remarkable scheme for a "Scots Barony or Stewardry" in Cape Breton Island. These projects broke down because a basis of financial backing, of adequate shipping and a well-developed mercantile class was lacking to support them.5 It was only as the pattern of ownership of land - the sole real source of wealth in the country - changed in the course of the seventeenth century that the accumulations of capital necessary for mercantile and overseas investment came to exist in private hands. It is significant that the financial magnate and educational benefactor, George Watson, who flourished in the latter years of the century, made most of his money from "Wadset'' or mortgage transactions, or from loans against rentals.6

Despite all these difficulties, weak and undercapitalized, the merchant burghers of Glasgow pushed on their "interloping" activities in the English colonies, especially in Virginia, with its attractive tobacco trade. These ventures, commenced as early as the mid-1660s under the useful cover of the Newfoundland fisheries, started the popular national game of evading the English Navigation Laws and the London-centred English colonial system. In June, 1680, Edward Randolph, "Surveyor General of Customs for the American Plantations," complained bitterly to the commissioners of customs in London that "many vessels full laden with tobacco" gave in bond at the Naval Office in Boston that they were bound for Newfoundland, but proceeded in fact to Scotland, Canada, and other countries.7 This interesting practice, together with the ruse of registering their ships at Whitehaven, just across the Border in Cumberland, England, enabled the Glasgow merchants to break into the tobacco and plantation trades long before the Union Act of 1707 gave them a right to participate. The Board of Trade raged in the 1690s against the "dubious legality" of the Scots' expedient of dispatching convoys of cartloads of tobacco by road from Virginia to Massachusetts, whence it was shipped to Newfoundland in colonial vessels and there transhipped into Scottish ships for dispatch to the Clyde; but the Newfoundland coastline and waters were difficult to police and patrol. In 1701, Randolph reported the "audacity" of a combine of Scottish merchants in setting up a "factory" on the Newfoundland coast. Ostensibly a "fishing station," this establishment was in fact a "front" for a point of transhipment for Virginian tobacco and West Indian sugar for dispatch in Scottish vessels to the Clyde, Holland, the Baltic, France, and Scandinavia.8

The remarkable display of ingenuity on the part of the handicapped Scottish merchants is significant, for it helped to set the "tone" of Scottish mercantile activity throughout the eighteenth century. The disregard for rules and regulations that had been inculcated in the period before 1707 as a national necessity if Scottish overseas trade was to develop continued to be characteristic of the Scottish traders. After the union they had little compunction in breaking the law if the law hampered the plying of their trade. As smuggling was given more countenance by all classes in Scotland than in England, there seems little doubt that the debut of the Scots on the Canadian mercantile scene was made by those merchants of Glasgow and the Clyde ports who engaged in the "Newfoundland trade" from the 1680s throughout the eighteenth century.

There is also no doubt that the trade was a "cover" for the shipment to Scotland and the continent of enumerated colonial products (which could only be shipped legally from the colonies to England before 1707), and of sugar and other French and Spanish colonial produce thereafter. The transhipment of vast quantities of French brandy, laces and silks, Dutch spirits, and German and Russian linens also went on, the goods being smuggled into Scotland as well as to the British West Indian and North American colonies.

Before 1759-60, when the first Scottish merchants secured a foothold in Quebec and Halifax, and long before 1783, when the "grand period" of Scottish mercantile enterprise in Canada and the Maritimes began, there were Scottish factors, agencies and firms in the "fishing" settlements of Newfoundland. By the 1770s the firms of Johnstone and Co., Lang and Co., and Graham and Co., and several lesser concerns were operating in and around the island. Little is known about the activities of these companies prior to the 1790s for of their records only a few fragments of the archives of Lang and Co. survive. We can, therefore, only guess at the scope and scale of their activities.9 All of the Newfoundland firms were based on or had strong connections with the Clyde, which was, from the 1680s through to the first half of the nineteenth century, the hub and focus of Scotland's trade with Canada and of Scottish emigration to Canada, and the chief supplier of Scottish merchants and businessmen to the colonies.

By 1807, Greenock, down the Clyde from Glasgow, alone had thirty-nine sizable vessels engaged in Newfoundland, coming third on the list of British ports involved in the "fishery."10 By 1785, practically all commerce with Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick was conducted through this port, which was well-described by a contemporary as "the throat, as it were, of the principal manufacturing district of this nation."

The population rose from 15,000 in 1783 to 25,000 in 1800, and by the latter date no fewer than 377 ships were owned there." In this thriving town were situated sugar refineries and rum distilleries, ropeworks, and sailcloth manufactories, and most important, a number of excellent shipyards, some of which had by 1780 gained the reputation of being among the best in the United Kingdom. There were also numerous mercantile and ship-owning firms, and from their counting houses men would go out to Canada and the Maritimes to create a vast, informal, commercial empire.

Even more important were the developments in the Clyde's hinterland, as between 1750 and 1800 Scotland experienced a radical and amazing change in its social and economic life. The country "took off," in the economists' phrase, into the first stage of its industrial revolution with dramatic suddenness, principally in Glasgow and the surrounding area. Linen and cotton mills, ironworks, coal mines, shipyards, and numerous other industrial enterprises sprouted around what had been a quiet little cathedral city in the seventeenth century. By 1800 Glasgow rivalled Edinburgh in population, with over 100,000 inhabitants, and Glasgow's chief port, Greenock, was surpassing Scotland's ancient "metropolitan and paramount port" of Leith in trade, shipping, and initiative.

Within the hub of commerce a new breed was appearing - the commercial Scot, a creature very different from the ultra-cautious seventeenth century merchant burgher with limited objectives and willingness to leave affairs of state to his betters. The "new men" were ambitious, and increasingly determined to have a say in matters of church and state, especially in those which touched their own interests. Since this class provided the men who spearheaded the Scottish commercial advance in what was to become Canada, its characteristics are worth examining in some detail.

The career of William Forsyth of Cromarty, and the writings of another veteran Scottish merchant, David Lock of Over Carnbie, who flourished in the 1760s, show how aware they were of the gap that separated English affluence from the old Scots penury, and how determined they were, by every effort in their power, to rectify this imbalance, which they felt to be unjust and discriminatory.12 Men of this stamp felt that their country had lagged behind, and that now, at last, the chance was afforded them to "catch up." After 1750 a new vigour, a new breadth of vision, had entered into the bodies and minds of Scottish businessmen. This was clearly seen in the midst of the frantic controversy that raged in Britain following the taking of Quebec, as to whether Canada should be retained. Many Scots felt acutely that here lay the field for enterprise, the markets for manufactures and the sources of raw materials that their country so badly needed, and they threw their full weight on the side of the "Retentiontists." In January, 1760, a merchant, signing himself "Britannicus," stated in a letter to the Glasgow Journal: "Of all our acquisitions, the conquest of Quebec and consequently, of the country of Canada is the most important and most beneficial ... for such a source of trade and commerce will be opened to us here, as will be fully sufficient, had we no other, to employ all our trading and commercial people, and find a vent, or constant consumption, for all our goods, products, and manufactures. It is therefore above all things to be wished that the country of Canada may never be relinquished."

This especially strong desire for the possession of Canada as a solution to Scotland's economic and social problems was further evinced by an editorial comment in the same newspaper (editorial comments were then rare, and only provoked by especially weighty issues). It ran: "The expense of this Conquest (i.e. of Canada) is the most thrifty disbursement ever made - an exclusive fishery! A boundless territory! The fur trade engrossed! and innumerable tribes of savages contributing to the consumption of our staple! There are sources of exhaustless wealth! Ignorant and designing men have called this a quarrel for a few dirty acres of snow, but the public will soon have feeling [sic] proofs that Britain must sink or swim with her colonies."13 A further proof of the particular interest in the Glasgow-Greenock area in ensuring that Canada be not restored to the "Papistical Bourbon Tyranny of the House of France," but kept British "regardless of our outlay in moneys and blood," was seen in the deputations of Glasgow and Greenock merchants to the Provost, the baillies, the local nobility and gentry, and to the local Presbytery, asking that they use their influence to ensure that "the French should be totally cleared out of North America."14

With this new awareness went a rapidly developing combativeness. Many of the "new men" were increasingly dissatisfied with the religious establishment in Scotland, where Queen Anne's Acts of Patronage left the right of nomination of parish ministers in the hands of the heritors, i.e. the local aristocracy and gentry. Since the parish schools were run in conjunction with and under the supervision of the Kirk, this was a matter of more than simple religious significance. Consequently, the majority of the mercantile Scots were Dissenters, supporters of various "breakaway" groups, such as the "Anti-Burghers" and the United Secession Synod. Their role in organizing and leading such dissident bodies undoubtedly gave them valuable experience which increased their growing confidence as men of business and as participants in politics.

In politics, they were also exponents of the cause of Reform - not only of Parliamentary Reform, but of the much more vital cause of Burgh Reform, particularly important in Scotland because of the peculiarly corrupt system of parliamentary election by nominated town councils, which made the country an easily-managed electoral appanage of the Dundas family and its connections. Adherence to reform as a good cause was another characteristic that the Scottish businessmen brought to their new North American environment.

These were all admirable qualities under the circumstances, but other features of the class were, perhaps, less attractive. Reference has already been made to their ingenuity in evading the law and the trade regulations.

This was to be a continuing trait, as we can see in the "trading on the line" activities of Christopher Scott, in the "prize-purchasing operations" of the Scottish Halifax circle, and in the utter high-handedness in taking the law into their own hands displayed by the leading partners of the North West Company, to which reference will be made later. From the most charitable point of view it can be regarded as an attitude bred of English discrimination against the Scots in the period following the union of the crowns in 1603. In support of this contention it must be remembered that as late as the 1760s it was still possible for an "anti-Scottish campaign" to be launched by Wilkes and others in London.

Another less admirable feature of the new Scottish commercial class was its intense, narrow localism. Despite the rapid social and industrial change of 1750-1800, Scotland was still essentially a country of regions -not only of "Highlands" and "Lowlands" but of subdivisions within each, among which population movement was still comparatively slight. "Clannishness," "parochialism," "favour to kin," and the nursing of prejudice, not only against the English and the Highlanders, but also against Scots from other areas of the Lowlands (most of the businessmen, because of the different social and economic structure of the Highlands and Lowlands, were Lowlanders), were charges that were absolutely valid when directed against Scottish businessmen of the time, whether at home or abroad. Scottish merchants in Canada, Newfoundland, and the Mari-times tended to trade with their home ports (mostly with Greenock) and to congregate in their colonial settings with Scots from their own regions, if they were available. They also recruited clerks, craftsmen, and labourers from their own districts back in Scotland - and kinfolk wherever possible, often to the detriment of the colonial population seeking employment. It is not surprising that in Quebec and Montreal, the Scottish paramountcy in trade, commerce, and industry came to be bitterly resented by some of the local population.

The high hopes held by Scottish merchants that Glasgow might "engross" the fur trade of Canada, and thus replace Paris as the main emporium for the peltries of North America, were not fulfiled. The dominant part that the Scots of the North West Company were to play in the trade after the 1780s is considered elsewhere in this volume, but the fact is that London, always the centre of Britain's fur importations from the time of the establishment of commercial links with Muscovy in the 1550s, went on to be the principal market for North American furs as well. As London had the specialized manufactures, and the experienced dealers and processers, accustomed to handling shipments of furs from Russia and Hudson's Bay, Scotland never became a major importer of peltries. Between 1764 and 1778 only four small consignments of furs are recorded as arriving in the Clyde; and of the total of 152 ships listed by the Colonial Office and the Board of Trade as sailing for Britain from Montreal and Quebec with full cargoes of furs between June, 1786, and January, 1814, only seven were destined for Scottish ports.15

It was in the field of general trade (importing and exporting a wide range of commodities) that they were active at first. There were scores of Scots among the "four hundred and fifty contemptible sutlers and traders" to whom their countryman, General Murray, made such scathing reference as being an embarrassment to him in newly conquered Canada.16 Many had been attracted by the lucrative trade in supplies for the large British and colonial armies engaged in the conquest. Several of the Scottish-Newfoundland traders shipping flour, salted beef and other supplies from the Clyde and from Cork in Ireland to the St. Lawrence, to judge by references in the contemporary Scottish press, were obviously making considerable profits. In the years 1759, 1760 and 1761, no fewer than thirty-three full shiploads of provisions for the conquest armies sailed from Greenock alone.17

Many Scots "sutlers" stayed on in Halifax, Montreal, and Quebec after 1763. In 1768 in Halifax they were already numerous enough to form a "North British Society," which flourished and grew from its inception. In Quebec, the Scots soon dominated the trade of Canada. Unfortunately little is known in detail about these Scottish merchants in the early phase between 1759 and 1783, but from the Scottish and colonial press some "reconstruction" can be done to offset the lack of archival material.

Most prominent of the early Scots merchants was James Finlay, who headed the Canadian side of a joint concern, based in Greenock. From this latter point, his elder brother Robert, one of the most powerful and enterprising of the "new breed" of commercial men in the port, directed operations. By 1764, the Finlay brothers had established what constituted, in effect, a regular shipping service between Quebec and the Clyde. They shipped out Scottish linens, woollens, spirits, and ironware, bringing back to the Clyde colonial lumber, potash for glass-making and textile processing, and scant quantities of furs. More important, they organized a primitive emigration service based on the "indenture" principle already practised on the Clyde for the securing of slave overseers and craftsmen for the West Indies plantations. In Greenock, Robert Finlay advertised on behalf of his brother and his brother's Scottish mercantile associates in Quebec for "masons skilled in building, gardeners, quarriers, and millers, fabricators of dry stone dykes, and good and sober men skilled in the management of flour and saw mills." 18 Applicants were offered free passage in the Finlay ships and well-paid employment. These Scottish craftsmen brought out by the Finlays and other operators who speedily emulated them played an important part in the building of stores, warehouses, and residences for their fellow countrymen in Quebec's building booms of the 1760s, 1770s and 1790s.

As with the Quebec/Montreal Scottish mercantile circles, that of Halifax, largely drawn from Glasgow, Greenock, and the Clyde area maintained the closest of links with Scottish west coast ports in trade and the fostering of emigration. This was natural enough, for several of the earliest merchants to find lodgement in Halifax, during the Seven Years' War, were Scots from Newfoundland, attracted by the rapidly-developing fisheries of Arichat and by the chance of sharing in contracts for the supplying of the conquest army. The three most notable of the early arrivals were John Geddes of Glasgow, who appeared in 1755, Peter McNab of Inverness, who came out in the same year, and Alexander Brymer, a successful Glasgow merchant, who ventured to settle in Halifax in 1760 with the fruits of his commercial activities in Glasgow, the then-sizable capital of 4000.

Brymer, a remarkably able merchant, was intent on encouraging other Scots to come out to join the circle. He became known as "Father of the Community of Scottish Merchants" in the town, the group which Harold Innis described as "the little commercial group which dominated Nova Scotian behaviour." The North British Society, which he helped to found in 1768, was essentially a Scottish commercial club, though it also had benevolent and charitable aims.19 Brymer prospered exceedingly from the trade in fish to the West Indies and from the import trade, especially in rum and other spirits from the Clyde, and by the 1770s was regarded as a merchant prince. Like many of his type and nation, however, the merchant had a strong philanthropic streak. He not only personally paid for the return passages to Scotland of many emigrants who were unable to cope with colonial life, but also lent large sums without interest to encourage merchants in Glasgow and Greenock to come out and join the "circle" in Nova Scotia.20 Since by 1777 the North British Society had over one hundred members, nearly all merchants, it was necessary to employ a full-time messenger to maintain communications among them. It may be guessed that the purpose of these messages was largely commercial, pertaining to shipping arrivals and departures, prices and cargoes.

The St. Lawrence trade became in the period between 1764 and 1800 one of the principal strands in the complex commerce of the Clyde. In the 1760s some sixteen owners were recorded as sending out vessels to Quebec, including the owners of ships who employed them from time to time as well in the West African-West Indian slave traffic. By 1800 there were at least thirty-five firms in Greenock and Glasgow which were largely concerned with the St. Lawrence trade. It would be no exaggeration to say that Scotland's share of the trade with Canada in the last forty years of the eighteenth century was far out of proportion to the country's population or shipping and mercantile strength. It was dominated by the Clydeside Scots and their kinfolk, agents and representatives on the other side of the Atlantic; and the same situation was intensified in the Nova Scotian and New Brunswick trades in the period of intense economic development after 1783.21 To draw together, however, the widely separated threads of Scottish enterprise in the newly conquered colony of New France, in the Province of Nova Scotia and, after 1784, in the new territory of New Brunswick, is not an easy task, for these places were far apart, not only geographically, but in outlook and background. Still, as far as the Scottish mercantile connection was concerned, there is a common factor which applied to them all. It was the utterly disruptive but still creative effect of the American Revolution. There can be no doubt that this phenomenon led to a vital change of direction in the economic life of Nova Scotia and Canada, while it created the economic life of New Brunswick. To all three areas, the Revolution brought a further Scottish wave made up of the dispossessed Scottish Loyalist businessmen and merchants, many of them bringing valuable experience of colonial trading conditions, and useful expertise in the pioneering of new lines of commerce. A few, such as James Dunlop of Montreal, even managed to bring with them some capital which they had contrived to save from the wreck of earlier careers.

The change in the direction of the Scots' trading interests after 1783 was towards the timber trade and its ancillary, the ship-building industry. True, other types of trade did not disappear, but the shipping of timber to Great Britain and the building of West Indian ships in North America began to loom ever larger in the general trade pattern. With the outbreak of the wars with France in 1793 the need for supplies of timber and ships became very pressing. Furthermore, with Napoleon's institution of the Continental System as an attempted blockade of the British Isles, other commodities such as sugar and grain were in great demand. Of all this the British North American-based merchants took quick advantage, and none more quickly than the Scots. Timber, however, remained basic as the foundation for many of the fortunes made before the mid-point of the nineteenth century.

William Forsyth, who possessed a combination of daring, caution and vision, was the classic type of Scottish entrepreneur. He arrived in Halifax in 1782, and as a partner in the important Greenock firm of Hunter and Robertson, rapidly made his mark in the West Indies fish trade and in ship-owning. By the mid-1780s he was the owner of two fleets of vessels -one made up of eight large ships which he employed in the trans-Atlantic trade, the other consisting of a score of smaller ships which were engaged in the coastal and West Indies trades. Judged by the standards of the time, the supply of salted fish, often of the poorer or "refuse" quality, sent to the West Indian plantations as food for the slaves, was the basis of all his commerce. These were shipped from Halifax in Forsyth's larger coasting vessels to Jamaica, Grenada and Antigua.

The proceeds of the fish cargoes were invested in rum, sugars, and salt from St. Ubes, which were then shipped back to Halifax, where the rum and salt went out to supply the fisheries, and the sugars were consigned to the Clyde. Because prices of salt fish in the West Indies and of quality sugars in Britain rose steeply during the Wars of 1776-83 and 1793-1815, Forsyth profited greatly.22 On the basis of this success, he then launched into a variety of other lines of business, acting as Halifax agent for numerous Scots, American, Dutch and German shipowners, exporting New Brunswick timber to the West Indies and masts to Britain, and acquiring large vessels in New Brunswick which in the 1790s made his fleet the largest in Nova Scotia. After war with revolutionary France broke out in 1793, he saw that ships and ship-building timber would shortly be at a premium because of wartime losses, and if a trade in lumber with Britain could be built up in wartime, it might well continue profitably when peace came.23

He also pioneered in other lines of trade, including importing from Liverpool vast quantities of prime Cheshire salt for the fisheries, of which he obtained a virtual monopoly.24 Also, through relatives established in trade in Montreal from 1790, he speculated in furs, potash, Canadian timber and colonial grain, the latter a commodity in increasing demand in Britain in the 1790s. Contracts with the Admiralty for the supply of masts to British and West Indian naval dockyards, the importation of wines from Madeira, Spain, Portugal and the Mediterranean, the export of Cape Breton coals to Newfoundland, and the importing of entire shiploads of cottons, linens, and woollens from the Clyde also swelled his business. By these means he helped to raise Halifax to the key position as an entrepot of the North Atlantic trade by 1800.

Forsyth also joined in a lucrative practice that grew up in Halifax in wartime - that of speculating in prize ships and cargoes seized by the navy and auctioned by order of the Vice-Admiralty Courts. Many Scottish naval and military officers, professional men and merchants made large fortunes by forming syndicates for such dealings. The system is well described by James S. MacDonald when he states that "although Halifax had a small population at this time, the enterprise of her Scottish merchants was known to all mercantile centres of the trading world."25 In bidding for prize ships and cargoes knowledge of their character was invaluable. This the Scots were often able to obtain through collusion with their countrymen in high positions in the naval establishment. There seems little doubt that there was a good deal of sharp practice, verging on illegality, in these proceedings.

Forsyth, however, saw that the seizure of neutral vessels, if overdone, could only dislocate trade and generate bad feeling among the victims. On many occasions, he acted as agent for the owners of captured ships, managing to secure their release. As he put it in a letter to an American correspondent (needless to say, a Scot), James Crawford of Philadelphia, in September, 1796: "We shall upon all occasions afford to American citizens every protection and assistance in our power to obtain justice, it being no more than we should expect of others were our property in the like situation."26 This attitude was a remarkably advanced and civilized one for the time, especially considering that Forsyth lost several vessels to French privateers. But there can be no doubt that Forsyth's assistance to neutrals helped to strengthen his network of useful contacts in foreign Ports, in many ways the true foundation of his prosperity.

Other Scots were of key importance in Nova Scotia, but they are little more than names today. One such was the industrious partnership of Fraser and Thorn, who came out from Scotland in 1786 with the backing of the Greenock firm of Alan Kerr and Co. They established a fisheries and general trading base at Beaubair's Island, which became the central point for the commercial development of the Northumberland Strait and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In typical Scots fashion, they did business with William Forsyth in Halifax. They also brought out ship-builders and other craftsmen from the Clyde, from whose activities sprang the later flourishing ship-building centres of Pictou, New Glasgow and Antigonish.

Another dim figure of whom there is little record is Captain Lowden, also from the Clyde area, who set up the first shipyards in Pictou County in 1788-92. William Davidson and John Cort, Scottish partners with experience in the large scale salmon fisheries of their native land, established themselves about 1762 at the mouth of the Miramichi River, in an area abandoned by the French. By 1766-70 they were exporting annually, to Britain, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, the Mediterranean, and the West Indies, no less than 1800 tierces of salted salmon, or about twelve hundred barrels. By the mid-1770s they had secured a vast grant of 100,-000 acres on the river and had launched out into lumbering on a large scale, ship-building and general trade. Little is known in detail of these operations, as is the case of Edward Mortimer, the Scot from Banff, who became known as "the King of Pictou" and the "master trader" in the 1790s, or of Alexander Walker, who built up from Bathurst harbour a flourishing commerce in fish, furs, walrus tusks and hides, oils and other local products. All of these men looked to Halifax and its Scottish mercantile community as their natural base of supply and source of provisions and trade goods. But because of the loss of their records, our knowledge of the foundation era of Canadian commerce is the poorer.

The centre of the economic life of the Province of Canada from the 1770s on was Montreal. Fortunately here there is more evidence to go on, partly because of the interest that has been taken in that predominantly Scottish concern, the North West Company of fur traders. Yet our detailed knowledge of such men as James McGill and the remarkable Simon McTavish (alias "the Marquis") is really very slight. In the case of James Dunlop, Loyalist refugee from Virginia, a merchant trained in Glasgow and linked with several Greenock firms, we are fortunate that his letters to his Scottish kinfolk have survived.27

Dunlop was intensely ambitious, rather ebullient, very convivial, loved social life and liked to operate on a large scale. He was, in fact, very different from the balanced, rather self-effacing, cautious and sagacious William Forsyth of Halifax. Yet what the two men did have in common was a keen perception of trading trends, coupled with an ability to grasp the main chance when it offered. Commencing operations as a "general trader" in Montreal in 1776, he built up by 1791 a thriving business as an importer of textiles, liquors and groceries, based on his large warehouse -the most extensive in town - on St. Paul Street. On the outbreak of war with revolutionary France in 1793 he was quick, like Forsyth in Halifax and numerous other Scots merchants in colonial centres, to see the opportunities afforded by the new wartime conditions. He launched out into the West Indian trade, taking advantage of the Act of Parliament of 1788 which allowed vessels carrying lumber, provisions and livestock to ply directly between Canada and the British West Indies, and to bring back from the islands sugars, rum and other commodities. As a result of this trade, between 1793 and 1815, Dunlop became one of the colony's largest shipowners. Dunlop also exported cargoes, in both his own and chartered vessels, of choice Canadian oak to Leith and to the Clyde, where they fetched unprecedented prices due to wartime demand, profits of several hundred per cent being made from some of these voyages. He invested heavily and profitably in the export of Canadian grain and potash, for cereals were scarce in the West Indies, England and Scotland while potash was in strong demand for industrial purposes.

Unlike Forsyth, who operated his far-flung trading empire from his Halifax counting house, Dunlop was a traveller par excellence, devoting much of his time and energy to wayfaring through Lower and Upper Canada seeking out grain, timber and potash and bargaining with the producers. The goods purchased were paid for largely in imported Scottish manufactures or West Indian rum, so that Dunlop benefitted from both sides of the trade.28 He was also a dealer in treasury and other bills, and an acute manipulator of the colonial money market. According to the historian of St. Gabriel Street Presbyterian Church, in which Dunlop worshipped, he was by far the largest operator in bills in British North America, negotiating as much as fifty thousand pounds of government and private paper on occasion.29 The proceeds from these transactions were used to build larger and finer vessels, and to stockpile vast quantities of wheat, potash and timber for speculative export to the British market. On several occasions between 1891 and 1812 he was almost able to corner the market in these commodities - an exciting game, which he played with verve, and steadiness of nerve.30

The ships which he built in his own yards, using imported Scottish ship-designers, shipwrights and craftsmen, and manned on completion entirely by Scottish crews, were among the largest built up to that date in Quebec and Montreal. Named after members of the Dunlop family, they were ships of over 400 tons - large sea-going vessels judged by the standards of the time. By 1810 he owned three such ships and was building two more in Montreal. In addition he owned, or had shares in, more than thirty smaller vessels engaged in the coasting or St. Lawrence River trade.

Dunlop's aim, in his own words, was to have "the largest mercantile establishment in the colony." Therefore in the early 1800s he purchased extensive water frontages on the St. Lawrence River, where wharves, houses, stores and other facilities were constructed, achieving this high ambition.31 The climax of his success came in the War of 1812. He had already made large profits by shipping barrelled beef and flour to Wellington's armies in the Peninsula, and he was a past master at securing supply contracts from commissary officials. He now calculated that there would be bonanza profits from treasury, army and navy bills, from an even greater demand for Canadian ship-building timber, flour and potash, owing to the fact that there were no longer competing United States goods on the British market, and that rum and other provisions had to be supplied to the augmented British land and naval forces in North America.

He also embarked on the project of taking out "letters of Marque" for his finest ships so that they could operate against the Americans as privateers. Remarkably, every single one of his ventures, including the privateers, bore fruit. By 1814 he could declare, "I have done more good business since the War began than ever I did in the same space of time, but I also have been more bold in my speculations than any other person or Company in this Province."32 The claim sounds rather vainglorious, but it was no less than the truth.

Active in the militia (he served as a Major of Volunteer Artillery), Dunlop was a "hard-liner" on the issue of the American war. Unlike his countryman Forsyth in Halifax, who wished to conciliate the Americans, Dunlop held that the War should be waged to the bitter end, since "we will never again have the same good opportunity of bringing the United States to our own terms."33 It is interesting to speculate about what further heights of success this brilliant businessman might have attained, had he not died suddenly in August, 1815, probably due to overmuch "conviviality" in the celebration of Waterloo.

From the time of the foundation of St. John, New Brunswick, by United Empire Loyalists in 1784, Scots had been predominant among its traders. The principal commercial street of Saint John in the 1790s was known as "Scotch Row," and McPhail's Tavern thereon was a sort of unofficial commercial exchange in which goods were advertised or "cried" and auctioned, and deals made. By 1790 there were at least fifteen mercantile houses operated by Scots in the town. These firms dominated the trade of New Brunswick, especially those headed by the Black, Pagan and Johnston families, and by the enterprising Andrew Crookshank. By 1798 there was also a flourishing Saint Andrew's Society.

Timber and fish were the principal staples in which these houses specialized, the former becoming increasingly important with the onset of the great revolutionary wars in Europe in 1793. Hugh Johnston, founder of the house of Johnston and Company, the largest mercantile concern in Saint John, came out from Morayshire in 1784 in his own ship, with a cargo of Scottish manufactures. He rapidly built up a flourishing business, based, like that of William Forsyth in Halifax, on the trade to the West Indies, in exported fish and imported rum and sugar. On this foundation he launched out in the late 1790s and early 1800s into a variety of other lines, most of them highly profitable, but involving illegal smuggling activities on the border and the coastal waters of the Bay of Passamaquoddy. From 1812 he played a leading part in the highly illegal but most lucrative "Trading on the Line" with the Americans. Like many of his countrymen, he was keenly interested in that revolutionary maritime innovation, the steamboat. As a leading member of the consortium which owned the General Smythe, New Brunswick's finest steam vessel, plying on the Saint John River, Johnston took the lead in operating steam vessels in the Bay of Fundy, being half-owner of the Saint John, the first steamship to sail those waters.34

So large did these early Scots businessmen loom in the Maritimes that only passing reference can be made to the more outstanding figures such as John Black, from Aberdeen, via Glasgow, who arrived in Saint John in 1786 as purchasing agent for the important firm of Blair and Glenie, a Scottish concern based in London, which was interested in securing masts and yards from New Brunswick's virgin forests. He soon built up a vigorous trade in shipping, general importing and timber exporting by having his own agents in Scotland. In 1802 he moved to Halifax where he took a leading part in organizing the Halifax Committee of Trade (1804) and five years later promoted the foundation of the Quebec Board of Trade which, like the Halifax Committee, was formed to put pressure through the London Committee on the home government to grant privileges to the British American ports.35

Another interesting personality was John Young of Glasgow, merchant and agricultural reformer, better known under his nom-de-plume of ''Agricola.'' Young was an active trader "on the Line" during the War of 1812, and a devoted champion of the commercial interests of the Maritime provinces and of his countrymen there. Indeed, the two causes were so closely identified as to be well-nigh identical.

The case of Christopher Scott, another leading Scottish merchant, is an unusual one, because of the circumstances in which he came out to New Brunswick. In 1797 the Scotts, already in the first rank of British shipbuilders, faced a desperate situation due to the lack of ship-building timber. Supplies from the Baltic were scarce and expensive because of the restrictive policies of the Russian government regarding exports. Consequently it was obvious to the senior partners, James and William Scott, that new supplies must be secured speedily. They conceived the plan of sending out their younger brother Christopher, an experienced shipbuilder and master mariner, with tools and metal fittings, cordage and sails, as well as a number of skilled craftsmen from their yard, to set up a completely new ship-building installation on the Saint John River. This was a remarkable project for the time, and one that proved an immense success for the Scotts, as well as a boon to the infant ship-building industry of the colony, for the Scott craftsmen who settled there taught their crafts and expertise to the locals.36

Within two years Christopher Scott sent nineteen new vessels to the Clyde with timber, not only oak and pine for ship construction, but also large quantities of black birch, which found a ready market among the cabinet-makers of the growing furniture industries of Paisley and Beith.37 The shipping of copper fastenings and other metal fittings from the Clyde to the firm's New Brunswick yards was illegal, prohibited by British or-ders-in-council, but, as in so many other cases where evasion of the law was necessary for Scots to achieve their commercial ends, the law was breached continuously.

Christopher Scott settled permanently in the colony, in the border town of Saint Andrews in 1805, and became an expert "Trader on the Line," privateer, smuggler, speculator in prize ships and cargoes, and architect of a considerable fortune which he invested in landed estates in New Brunswick and in his native land. He was responsible for building the superb "Greenock Church" in the town, providing financing, craftsmen and plans from Scotland; he also built the fine blockhouse which still stands as a memento of the War of 1812.38

The activities of Johnston, Black and Scott helped to usher in what has been called "the golden age of the New Brunswick timber trade," as well as the apogee of Scottish mercantile influence in that colony. In 1807, 156 ships sailed from its ports with almost 24,000 tons of timber. More than one-third of the vessels engaged in the trade between 1800 and 1825 were Scots' ships, a number out of all proportion to the country's relative shipping strength.

In the latter stages of the Napoleonic Wars, industrial over-production, exclusion from continental markets, and a glut of tonnage brought difficulties for Scottish manufacturers, merchants and ship-owners. To many ship-owners, the Saint John and Miramichi timber trades seemed the last resort if their vessels were to have employment. The emigration traffic from Highlands and Lowlands was also attractive in providing some return for outward voyages. This led to a razor-keen competition among Scottish ship-owners, and, for the first time, the ports of the east coast -notably Aberdeen, Alloa and Grangemouth - began to participate in the trade, but Greenock, backed by Glasgow, held on to its leading place.

Freight rates sank so low in this post-war period that some Scottish merchants in the Newfoundland and Quebec trades sold off most of their vessels, since low rates in the ships of others were so readily available. Peace-time timber gluts on the Thames, the Mersey, the Clyde and the Forth, with a new emphasis on quality and a need for larger vessels specially built for the trade, soon led to the emergence of large scale timber firms, who operated their own concessions on contract systems rather than extending credit for goods to settlers and taking timber in return. These new firms maintained their own sawmill establishments and fleets of timber ships. Now a new phase opened in the commercial relations between Scotland and British North America.

The four principal firms of the "new wave" of large scale operations were all Scots' concerns, though two of them, Richardson Forsyth and Co., and Scott, Idles and Co., were based in London and Montreal, and another, Duncan Gibb and Co., operated from Liverpool. The fourth of these leaders in the timber trade was the firm of Pollok, Gilmour and Co., which revolutionized the industry in the colonies.

The key figure in conceiving this giant among contemporary companies was Allan Gilmour. Temperamental and adventurous, he began his business career as a small importer of lumber from the Baltic area.39 In 1804, however, he went into partnership with the Pollok brothers, grocers and sons of a Renfrewshire farmer. The new firm was capitalized at 1500 of which Gilmour provided 1,000. During the latter years of the Napoleonic Wars, Pollok and Gilmour gradually expanded their business by turning to the Canadas and New Brunswick for their timber and by pressuring the British government into imposing duties on Baltic imports. As one of the first Scottish timber merchants to recognize the advantage of importing North American wood, Gilmour moved his headquarters from Grangemouth at the mouth of the Great Canal to Port Glasgow on the Clyde. In 1804 he established a branch in Quebec City and in 1812 another at Miramichi, and from that time on the firm grew rapidly. In the late 1820s they were operating eleven shipyards in the North American colonies, and between 1822 and 1832 their fleet increased from 54 to over 100 vessels. In the 1830s, apart from the 5,000 men employed in the ships and shipyards, over 15,000 were working in the forests of New Brunswick to obtain the timber, although in Canada they bought directly from the lumbermen as they rafted their logs down the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. In 1834 alone the firm exported 300 shiploads from Miramichi, St. John, Quebec, Montreal and Bathurst, probably amounting to some 150,-000 tons if the average ship's capacity was 500 tons, although some were much larger. Pollok and Gilmour also acted as agents for ship-builders in the Maritime colonies, selling large numbers of their vessels on the London market. We may gain some idea of the way in which the wealth of the partners increased during this period by the fact that Gilmour between 1815 and 1836 bought a number of country estates and finally in 1838 sold out his share to the Polloks for 150,000, not a bad capital gain on his original 1,000 investment.40 The Polloks then moved the headquarters of the firm to Liverpool where capital was more easily obtainable and the port facilities had been greatly expanded. From then on, the firm became English, although its fortunes had been made by Gilmour.41

Pollok and Gilmour was only the most prominent of a cluster of Glasgow, Greenock and Port Glasgow firms which were followed by others in Aberdeen, Leith, Dundee and Dumfries, and which grasped at the new sources of timber supply. James Scott of Glasgow had sixteen ships in the Quebec-Miramichi lumber trade by 1823, while John Mitchell of the same city had eleven vessels constantly plying from the Clyde to the Miramichi by the same year. The squared pine of that river, so easily worked, appealed to carpenters, joiners, house-builders and shipwrights all over Scotland in the years of the wars and their aftermath, marked by prosperity, temporary setbacks, but population growth at an unprecedented rate.

When peace came, the timber trade continued to flourish, and the Scots were predominant in it. Though Brougham might rail in parliamentary debate in 1817 against the "Canadian and shipping interests" and the "mercantile school" with its "inferior timbers from the North American Colonies," the ship-owners and lumber merchants whose interests were bound in with the Quebec, Miramichi and Saint John trade were now so influential that there was no question of reversing the policy of preference instituted in 1810.42 It is significant that Kirkman Finlay, member for Glasgow, and a leading exponent of freedom in trade, who was presenting petitions for his city's Chamber of Commerce at this time urging an end to all restrictions, did nothing to support Brougham on this issue. His constituents and their Greenock, Leith, Aberdeen and Dumfries associates were doing too well out of the trade.43 Arguments like that of the able shipowner Joseph Marryat, member for Sandwich in 1820, that the Canadian lumber trade employed 340,000 tons of shipping in 1819 as against 80,000 tons in 1811, were bound to be conclusive.44

The dominant role of the Scots in every department of the commercial life of British North America up to 1825 is so vast a topic that it has been possible only to indicate some of the major lines of development. The period between 1759 and 1825 saw the Scots secure not only a foothold, but also a commanding position in the economic life of the country, and this trend continued unabated as emigration from Scotland increased at an unprecedented rate in the hard decades of the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s. The new waves of emigrants showed the same characteristics as their forerunners, and as James MacGregor, an acute observer, put it when he described the influx into the Maritimes: "The lessons of early life infuse among the lower and middle classes in Scotland a spirit which will endure the greatest hardships without repining whenever a manifest utility is to be attained."45 To the founding of banks, insurance companies and industrial and trading concerns of all types great and small, the Scots brought tenacity, shrewdness, industry and expertise.

The Scots' prominence and leadership in the Canadian business world after 1825 appears most clearly in Montreal where men such as James McGill, Simon McTavish, Peter Redpath, and many others too numerous to name dominated the scene. The North West Company was made up largely of Scots, as is pointed out in another chapter of this book. The Bank of Montreal, founded in 1817, had Scots as five of its first directors and the following year three more Scots or Scottish Canadians joined the board.46 As the nineteenth century wore on other Scottish names appeared. George Stephen, Lord Mount Stephen, and his cousin, Donald Smith, Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, both played important parts in the financial world of Montreal and were the two men responsible, along with the engineer Sandford Fleming, another Scot, for the successful completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.47 Many of these Scots were the leading philanthropists of the city, being responsible for the founding of institutions such as McGill University, the Royal Victoria and the Montreal General Hospitals, the building of churches and the establishment of commercial organizations such as the Board of Trade and even the Mercantile Library Association, a kind of merchants' mechanics' institute. While there were other ethnic groups involved in the business life of Montreal, Professor Tulchinsky's view that in Montreal, "the Scots comprised the dominant group in most forms of commerce," is amply born out by the facts.48

If one looks to the Atlantic provinces one finds that much the same state of affairs prevailed there during the mid and latter part of the nineteenth century. When the Charlotte County Bank was set up in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, in 1825, out of a total of twenty-five directors, fourteen were Scots. Forty-four years later, William Jarvis wrote a description of the launching of a commercial bank in St. John in 1832, in which he emphasized that the organizers were anxious that "the Scotch system of banking should be brought into operation in the Province. . . ."49 The early Canadian banks were modelled on those of Scotland, with their wide distribution of shares among the public, their establishment of branches and their novel idea of lending money to well-recommended individuals. Other forms of business in the Atlantic provinces usually followed the Scottish patterns of operation.

To the west of Montreal from Toronto and Hamilton as far as Fort William and Port Arthur at the Lakehead, the same phenomenon was observable. Whether it was Sir Alan MacNab, who with J.B. Ewart and Peter Buchanan pushed through the construction of the Great Western Railway, or Robert Simpson, the originator of the chain of retail departmental stores, Scots seem to have dominated the business world.50

If we leapfrog over the prairies to Victoria - founded by a Scot, James Douglas - on the west coast we find that the eastern pattern tends to repeat itself. Although many different ethnic groups were represented in the thousands of people who came in with the Gold Rush in the Fraser River Valley, Scots soon made their appearance and gradually became some of the most important and influential businessmen in the area. Thomas and James Lowe were two of the first to come, arriving in 1861-2, and eventually became leaders of the business community. Other Scots who came about the same time were J. Robertson Stewart and Gilbert M. Sproat, president of the local St. Andrew's Society in 1863. Sproat represented Anderson and Co. which was interested in ship-building and the lumber trade. In 1859 the first private bank was established by Alexander Mac-donald who was ruined, however, by a burglary. Gradually more Scots, with names such as Dickson, Campbell and Haliburton, moved in. One of he most important was Robert Dunsmuir who had been selling coal from Nanaimo since 1855. In 1869, he discovered the Wellington mine which enabled him to form a large coal mining company. In the 1860s men such as William Irving and Alexander Murray operated the first steam ships in the area. A little later another Scot who was to wield a great influence settled in Victoria: Robert Paterson Rithet, who in 1868 was working for Sproat and Co. but later joined J. Robertson Stewart. When Robertson retired Rithet formed a partnership with an Andrew Welch and bought the firm. Gradually his interests expanded in the '80s to wholesaling, shipping, insurance, lumbering, canning, groceries, and sugar plantations in Hawaii. In 1890 he was a member of the legislature, and subsequently became involved in railway-building and the developing of port facilities.

In this connection we should mention the activities of John Irving, son of the aforementioned William Irving, who along with Rithet established the Canadian Pacific Navigation Co. which was eventually bought out by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1900. Robert Dunsmuir also continued to expand his interests, buying more mines and finally building, with the help of government subsidies, the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. While extensive statistical studies of the situation on the west coast have not been made, it is clear from what has been said that the Scots operated in much the same way wherever they located.51

The statistics provided by Professor T.W. Acheson confirm the impression which one receives from accounts of individual Scots. In dealing with the question of the origins of the industrial elite during the period 1880-1885, he points out that 38% of the country's population lived in the Quebec to Kingston area, and a similar percentage in the area from Kingston to the Lakehead. The Maritimes had 20% and the West, principally British Columbia, 4%. Of what he counts as the industrial elite 40% were in the St. Lawrence (Quebec to Kingston) region and 37% in the Lake Peninsula (Kingston to the Lakehead) region while the other two regions had about the same percentage as their proportion of the total population. When recording the birthplaces of the elite, 20% came from Scotland, the highest percentage of any group, Canadian or non-Canadian, and it is interesting to note that at this period the Scottish elite formed only 3% of the population. Carrying this somewhat farther, however, we find that 28% of the elite's fathers were born in Scotland, a percentage larger than that of all the native-born and almost twice as large as the next percentage of "foreign-born" who were Americans. Moreover it is well to note that while only 10% of the elite with Scottish fathers were located in the Maritimes, 31% were in the Lake Peninsula region and 40% in the West. While these figures are based upon a sampling, it would seem that they give a fairly accurate picture which certainly indicates that the Scots tended to be the predominant element in Canadian industry before 1900, and undoubtedly this would also hold true for their activities in finance and commerce.

One further fact which should be considered is that of the industrial elite who had Scottish fathers, 46% of the fathers were farmers, 14% were craftsmen, 11% were in management and 21% in manufacturing. The predominance of men with agricultural backgrounds may explain in part their frugality, their usual strong religious convictions and their industry. Farming either in Scotland or in Canada was no easy life and tended to breed hard-working and rugged individuals. This same background may also, partially at least, explain their high degree of adaptability and the capacity of Scottish businessmen to assimilate easily to their environment.

This chapter has barely scratched the surface of a very large topic which can be fully examined only when hundreds of case studies of individual Scots have been made on the basis of research into business records. Yet from the work which has already been done it is clear that the Scots' contribution to Canada as traders, businessmen, manufacturers and financiers was extremely important. Their initiative and their energy, backed by a network of business connections at home and throughout the country, had most important long term implications for the colonies which eventually became the Dominion of Canada.

Pierre Berton in The National Dream states the Scots' accomplishments most clearly. He quotes from Lord Mount Stephen's address when the latter received the freedom of the City of Aberdeen:

Any success I may have had in life is due in great measure to the somewhat Spartan training I received during my Aberdeen apprenticeship, in which I entered as a boy of 15. To that training, coupled with the fact that I seemed to have been born utterly without the faculty of doing more than one thing at a time is due that I am here before you today. I had but few wants and no distractions to draw me away from the work I had in hand. It was impressed upon me from my earliest years by one of the best mothers that ever lived that I must aim at being a thorough master of the work by which I had to get my living; and to be that I must concentrate my whole energies on my work, whatever that might be, to the exclusion of every other thing. I soon discovered that if I ever accomplished anything in life it would be by pursuing my object with a persistent determination to attain it. I had neither the training nor the talents to accomplish anything without hard work, and fortunately I knew it.

And Berton then adds:

It was this hard ethic, so forcefully expressed by Stephen, that explains the dominance of the Scot in pioneer Canada. The Irish could loll in the taverns, sing, brawl, engage at ward level in the game of politics and otherwise disport themselves with the religious bickering that so engrossed their time and energies. For the Scots it was work, save and study; study, save and work. The Irish outnumbered them, as they did the English, but the Scots ran the country. Though they formed only one-fifteenth of the population they controlled the fur trade, the great banking and financial houses, the major educational institutions and, to a considerable degree, the government. The CPR was built to a large extent by Irish navvies and Irish contractors; but it was the Scots who held the top jobs. Almost every member of the original CPR syndicate was a self-made Scot. In the drama of the railway it is the Scottish names that stand out: Macdonald and Mackenzie, Allan and Macpherson, Fleming and Grant, Stephen, Smith, Kennedy, McIntyre, Angus and Hill - (who was half Scottish) -living embodiments of the popular copybook maxims of the time. Waste not, want not. . . Satan finds more mischief still for idle hands to do ... . God helps those that help themselves .... A penny saved is a penny earned .... Remember that time is money .... Early to bed, early to rise . . . Keep your nose to the grindstone .... See a pin and pick it up .... 53


1. David S. Macmillan, ed., Canadian Business History: Selected Studies, 1947-1971 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972); W.J. Rattray, The Scot in British North America, 4 vols. (Toronto: Maclear, 1880); John Murray Gibbon, Scots in Canada (Toronto: Musson, 1911).

2. For the role of the Scots in the fur trade, see Mrs. W.F. Mitchell's chapter in this volume, as well as such earlier works as G.C. Davidson, The North West Company, 1818 (Berkely: University of California Press, 1970): W. Stewart Wallace, Documents Relating to the North West Company (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1934); John Gray, Lord Selkirk of Red River (London: Macmillan, 1963). Harold Innis' classic study of the trade also contains valuable material on the Scottish participation.

3. R.G. Lounsbury, The British Fishery at Newfoundland (Hamden: Ar-chon, 1969), p. 44.

4. Ibid, p. 401.

5. For these early Scottish schemes, see the works of George Pratt Insh.

6. For Watson's financial career, see the chapter by Dr. Ian Nish in the history of George Watson's college, recently published.

7. Lounsbury, pp. 198-9.

8. Ibid., p. 201.

9. Ibid., p. 203-6. For Scottish attitudes to smuggling or "free-trading" in the eighteenth century, see P.W.J. Riley, The English Ministers and Scotland (London: Athlone Press, 1964), University of London Historical Studies No. 15.

10. A.C. Wardle, "The Newfoundland Trade," in The Trade Winds: A Study of British Overseas Trade During the French Wars, 1793-1815, C.N. Parkinson, ed. (London: Allan, 1958), pp. 243-4.

11. Daniel Weir, History of the Town of Greenock (Greenock, 1829), pp. 11-| 18; "Note on the Progress of Greenock," The Scots Magazine, January, 1805; David Macpherson, Annals of Commerce, Manufactures, Fisheries and Navigation (Edinburgh, 1805) 4 vols. For the best account of the Industrial Revolution in Scotland, see Henry Hamilton, An Economic

History of Scotland in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), Chapters 5-7.

12. Hugh Millar, William Forsyth of Cromarty (Cromarty, 1844); David Loch of Over Carnbie, Letters Concerning the Trade and Manufactures of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1774).

13. Glasgow Journal, January 28, 1760.

14. Ibid., January 8, 1761.

15. Colonial Office Records, Series 47, Vols. 80-83, and Board of Trade Records, Series 5, Vol. 8 (London, Public Records Office).

16. W. Stewart Wallace, The Pedlars from Quebec and other Papers on the Nor'Westers (Toronto: Ryerson, 1954), p. 21.

17. Shipping lists and "Plantation News," Glasgow Journal, 1759-1761.

18. Glasgow Journal, February 2, 1764, et passim.

19. Ibid., shipping lists, shipping advertisements and "Plantation News," 1765-1805.

20. For a full account of the North British Society of Halifax, and its early worthies, see James S. MacDonald, Annals of the North British Society (Halifax: Alpine, 1905),passim.

21. Ibid., p. 27.

22. Letter book of William Forsyth, 1796-8, Public Archives of Nova Scotia.

23. Forsyth to Messrs. J. Petrie Campbell, London, November 12, 1796, Forsyth letter book.

24. Ibid., passim, 1797-98. See also numerous entries in Forsyth's account books.

25. MacDonald, p. 63.

26. Forsyth's letter book, pp. 83-4 ff.

27. Letters of James Dunlop, G.D./11151 (Scottish Record Office, Her Majesty's General Register House, Edinburgh).

28. Dunlop to his brother Alexander Dunlop, Glasgow, April 15, 1798, and December 29, 1799, and to his sister, Mrs. Janet McNair, Greenock, July 1, 7 and 24, 1800, Dunlop Correspondence.

29. Robert Campbell, A History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, St. Gabriel Street, Montreal (Montreal: Lovell, 1887), pp. 96-7.

30. Dunlop to Mrs. Janet McNair, Greenock, June 1, 1811 and November 9 and 30, 1811, Dunlop Correspondence.

31. Ibid., Dunlop to Alexander Dunlop, Glasgow, December 29, 1799.

32. Ibid., Dunlop to Mrs. Janet McNair, Greenock, May 17, 1814.

33. Ibid., same to same, March 27,1815.

34. Cf. Johnston-Fulton Correspondence, New Brunswick Provincial Museum, St. John, New Brunswick; also Royal Gazette and New Brunswick Advertiser 1885-95; 1797-1814; 1816-1821.

35. For Black's early career, see The Judges of New Brunswick and Their Times (St John, 1912), pp. 223-4.

36. Letter book, September 1798-August, 1800 (Archives of Scotts, Ltd., Greenock).

37. Ibid., John Scott to Messrs. Hunter and Walkinshaw, Paisley, August 23, 1798.

38. For further details of Scott and his career, see David S. Macmillan, "Shipbuilding in New Brunswick: From the Clyde to the St. John River, 1798," in The Canadian Banker, 11 (1970), No. 1; and "Christopher Scott: Smuggler, Privateer and Financier," ibid., 78 (1971), No. 3.

39. Correspondence, June, 1819, Lang Papers (Business Archives Collection, Glasgow University); Parliamentary Papers, Proceedings of the Select Committee on Foreign Trade, 1812 (186), vi, Evidence and Submissions.

40. John Rankin, A History of Our Firm (Liverpool, 1921). This book is obviously based on valuable business records which have since disappeared. The "Pollock and Gilmour Papers" held in the Business Archives Collection of the University of Glasgow consist mostly of eighteenth century Scottish estate papers.

41. Ibid., p. 110. For details of the timber firms and their relative importance see Louise Dechene, "Les Enterprises de William Price," Histoire So-ciale - Social History, 1 (1968), pp. 16-52; R.G. Albion, Forests and Sea Power (Hamden, 1965), pp. 355-6.

42. J. Smart, Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1964), pp. 596,599-600,757.

43. Rankin, pp. 188-9.

44. David M. Williams, "Merchanting in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century: The Liverpool Timber Trade," Business History, viii (1966), 106,110,111.

45. J. MacGregor, Historical and Descriptive Sketches of the Maritime Colonies of British North America (1828) (Toronto: Social Science Research Council, 1968), p. 72.

46. MacMillan, "The New Men in Action," in MacMillan, Canadian Business History, p. 101.

47. J.L. MacDougall, "The Character of the Entrepreneur: The Case of George Stephen," ibid., pp. 192ff.

48. G. Tulchinsky, "The Montreal Business Community, 1837-1853," ibid., pp. 135f.

49. " Second Letter of William Jarvis to the Shareholders of the Commercial Bank,'' Jarvis Papers, 16/19, New Brunswick Museum, St. John.

50. D. McCalla, "Peter Buchanan, London Agent for the Great Western Railway of Canada," in MacMillan, pp. 197ff.

51. J.M.S. Careless, "The Business Community in the Early Development of Victoria, British Columbia," ibid., pp. 104ff.

52. T.W. Acheson, "The Social Origins of the Canadian Industrial Elite, 1880-1885," ibid., pp. 144ff.

53. MacMillan, pp. 44ff.

54. Pierre Berton, The National Dream, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1971), pp. 319f. Reprinted by permission of the publishers.

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