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Canadian History
Dr William Carson (1770 - 1843)

Dr William CarsonAbout the year 1806, Dr William Carson arrived in Newfoundland; he at once saw the great injustice that was done, both to the country and the resident inhabitants, by the semi-barbarous policy that prevailed which prohibited the cultivation of the soil. He raised his voice against it, wrote some excellent tracts on the subject, denounced it in the strongest terms, incurring no small risk of being transported for his temerity for arraigning the venerable system that had prevailed or centuries. He became the most strenuous advocate for the cultivation of the soil, which he represented as fully equal in quality to that of his native country, Scotland; he was opposed by the local authorities, by the merchants, and a great portion of the inhabitants; he was ridiculed as a visionary. Notwithstanding, in good report and in evil report, he persevered until he saw, for some time before his death, his views and doctrine almost unanimously approved by all parties.

Dr Carson may be called the parent of agriculture of Newfoundland, he not only encouraged it by precept but likewise by example. In the year 1818, he obtained a large grant of waste land from the then Governor, Sir Charles Hamilton, which he cleared and cultivated at considerable expense. The land cleared and cultivated by Dr Carson forms one of the most valuable farms in the vicinity of St.John's.

William Carson immigrated to Newfoundland in 1806 and remained there until his death. He found ample opportunity to carry on his reforming ways. Initially, he advocated diversification of economic activity for Newfoundland's fishing industry; soon he moved to campaigning for more services from England for the people in his adopted home. Ultimately, he was deeply involved in the colony's political life, crusading for responsible government, and running for office once this goal was achieved in 1832. His other activities included his system of quarantine for cholera, and his service as physician to the last Beothuk Indian during her final illness. In addition, he was the first chairman of the Agricultural Society in Newfoundland.

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