Historical Notes - Founding of Teetotal Settlement

"Teetotal Settlement" was viewed as a successful endeavor by Mr. Perley, Emigration Agent, because the settlers opened up a road and made the land productive.  Mr. Pereley described "Teetotal" as being "...an Irish settlement, formed by people from Cork and Kerry [emphasis added].  It was formed in 1842, under the same commissioner [referring to Commissioner Wilmot] by a party of destitute emigrants from the south of Ireland"  (Colonization, Edinburgh Review Vol. 9I, 1850, pp. I-62 as cited in Emigration in the Victorian Age:  Debates on the issue from 19th. century critical journals.  Gregg International Publishers Ltd.: Westmead, 1973, p. 50-51). 

Perley's description of the settlers is consistent with the petition of Miles O'Leary and 33 others read in Council, 10 December 1841 6 (scroll to p. 321-322) in which they described themselves as being "thrown out of their ordinary employment by the depressed state of the times" and agreed to open the St. Andrew's road in exchange for land on the Eastern side of the road.   Perley's introduction to Wilmot's 25 Jan 1844 report (see British Parliamentary Papers, Colonies Canada (1968-71), 18, p. 24 and page 25) also stated that the settlers were from Cork and Kerry.  The reference of the petition read in Council refers to Miles O'Leary and 33 others6 (p. 321), whreas within the petition itself, the petitioners asked for 33 lots6 (p. 321).

The early history of Teetotal Settlement is documented in the House of Commons, Accounts and Papers6.Some particular items of interest are as follows:

L. A. Wilmot wrote to Sir W. M. G. Colebrooke on 2 December 1841 from Fredericton(p. 322)  stating that "...yesterday, I have convened a number of sober, able-bodied, and industrious labourers in and about the town, to ascertain their wants, and whether they were disposed to settle upon wildrness lands, and I am happy to inform your Excellency that I have procured the names of 36, who, if a little encouragement be afforded them, as I shall take the liberty of suggesting in a subsequent part of this comunication, will enter upon their work immediately with enthusiasm."  

Sir William Colebrooke wrote, "The spirit of these parties in undertaking the labours of a first settlement in the winter season, is highly creditable to them and will afford example to others of the advantages which the province holds out to the enterprize of settlers from Europe6 (p. 320)".

L. A. Wilmot noted in his letter of 2 December 1841 to Sir William Colebrooke that "Nearly all the men I believe have taken the temperance pledge, and they with one voice have determined to call their location the 'Teetotal Settlement,' and to utterly exclude all ardent spirits from their neighbourhood.  This is highly gratifying, and while it makes me the more anxious to serve them, I am sure it will prove an additional recommendation to the favourable consideration of your Excellency and Council" 6 (p. 322).  Teetotalism was viewed by Buchanan, his Majesty's Counsul in New York as being a desirable to granting land; however, others such as T. F. Elliot, Esp. and the Hon. E. E. Villiers of Westminister stated that "...to attach public rewards to a declaration of intended abstinence, is to invite men to hypocrisy; or should the object be gained, and the parties keep the promise made to their society, the exception in their favour is unjust to those who without any public profession have acquired and practise the virtue of temperance"6 (p. 324).They expressed little hope that the settlement would succeed, stating that "...experience suggests the probability, that neither the purchase money of the land nor the advance in money will ever be recovered" 6 (p. 324). So too, Sir William Colebrooke noted that the government could not base the giving of land upon temperance pledges6 (p. 337).  Whether or not the settlers thought that taking the teetotal pledge would enhance their chances of being granted a petition is not known; however, at some point, the name of the settlement was changed to Cork Settlement.

Sir William Colebrooke did not share Elliot's and Villiers'  pessimism, because he concluded that "...so far from any loss having been sustained, the work for which advances were made was fully executed before the termination of the season6 (p. 337).  In the words of Commissioner L. A. Wilmot, dated 29 March 1842, "I was out last week, and I was delighted to find the men making such progress.  Fine large comfortable camps, and several extensive clearances have been made6" (p. 338). 

And so, with a great deal of effort on the part of the settlers, and a little bit of Irish luck, Teetotal or Cork Settlement was founded.

© Colleen S. Kennedy, 2011