Backwoods Consumers and Homespun Capitalists: The Rise of a Market Culture in Eastern Canada
Published: January 2009© 2009
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 320 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
320 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Ebook - PDF
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a local economy made up of settlers, loggers, and business people from Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and New England was established on the banks of the Upper St. John River in an area known as the Madawaska Territory. This newly created economy was visibly part of the Atlantic capitalist system yet different in several major ways.
In Backwoods Consumers and Homespun Capitalists, Béatrice Craig examines and describes this economy from its origins in the native fur trade, the growth of exportable wheat, the selling of food to new settlers, and of ton timbre to Britain. Craig vividly portrays the role of wives who sold homespun fabric and clothing to farmers, loggers, and river drivers, helping to bolster the community. The construction of saw, grist, and carding mills, and the establishment of stores, boarding houses, and taverns are all viewed as steps in the development of what the author calls "homespun capitalists." The territory also participated in the Atlantic economy as a consumer of Canadian, British, European, west and east Indian and American goods. This case study offers a unique examination of the emergence of capitalism and of a consumer society in a small, relatively remote community in the backwoods of New Brunswick.
Craig paints an impressive and richly detailed portrait of social and economic development in a remote rural region. This is an exhaustive case study that distills immense mass of archival material, representing many years of research into a clear and convincing picture of a fascinating frontier. Leslie Choquette, Business History Review, vol 84:01:10
‘Craig’s is an important book, a very significant contribution to the literature and a must-read for economic and social historians of all periods and places, pre-Confederation Canadian specialists, and graduate students.’ Julia Roberts, labour/le Travail, vol 68: 2011
‘Craig’s impressive and detailed account places local markets at the center but, importantly, also shows that links to international markets were by no means inconsequential.’Robert B. Kristofferson, American Historical Review
‘Debunking myths of regional backwardness, Craig shows how local people made rational choices to limit their exposure to volatile export industries by focusing instead on agricultural strategies that offered economic diversification and mitigated risk.’Jerry Bannister, Acadiensis
- Winner - Sir John A. Macdonald Prize awarded by Canadian Historical Association
- Winner - Clio Prize for the Atlantic region awarded by Canadian Historical Association
- Winner - Prix Lionel-Groulx awarded by l'Institut d'histoire de l'Amérique française