Saturday, February 25, 2012

Loyalist Provisioning

Over the past few months I have been spending the occasional Thursday evening working with one of our volunteers on an archival scanning project. We have been working our way through the documents in the Cronin Fonds in an attempt to make this material available to the public. While this has been a fairly enjoyable way to spend a Thursday evening, We have tended to fall into a common trap of those who work with archival collections. Those who have spent time with archival documents will tell you that there is a great hazard of spending more time reading the documents than actually doing the work. Thankfully, our scanning project is being done on an after hours, volunteer basis so I do not mind getting drawn into the world of Lower Granville in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The document in this post is an excellent example of one that captured our attention. This is a
1786 letter from Joshua Quereau to Dennis Cronean (Cronin). In most respects this is a fairly simple letter instructing Cronin to pass the word about where Loyalists were to go to collect provisions from the government. It is when you stop to consider the context of the letter that you get temporarily lost in history. There in my hands was a letter loosely connected to one of the turning points in history.

Quereau, a Loyalist of Huguenot origins, was informing Cronin, a Loyalist from New York, of where to send their fellow refugees to get provisions. The first years after the American Revolution were difficult for the Loyalists in Nova Scotia. In addition to the upheaval of war and needing to leave their homes, in an area like Lower Granville they were carving a new life out of the wilderness. They were not coming to lands that had previously been used by Acadian or Planter settlers. Hardships quickly led to Loyalists referring to Nova Scotia as Nova Scarcity. For many Loyalists there would have been more meal times than meals. For this reason, government provisions were essential for the survival of the population over the first few years after the Loyalists established themselves. This was an important letter to those in need of food.

What had those who were receiving provisions endured? Did this aid help them? All things considered, a trip through more than 225 years of history is not bad entertainment for a Thursday evening. As with all of our transcriptions, the original spelling has been maintained.

All for now,

Black Point Augt 14 1786

Dear friend

After my respects to you and yours, these are to inform you that you here have Inclosed an advertisement, for the Loyalists, in regard of their drawing provision, wich I beg the faver of you to make nown, Down in your Quarter, & all that Does apply to send to Mr Cornwells, on Saturday Next, for None will be heard after that Period, the provisions will be given out on Monday the 28 Int.

From your Sincear Friend and

well wisher Joshua Quereau.

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