Tenant farmers continue to make their voices heard across the Island

Jim
Jim Hornby
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The Islander, March 25

The fine weather of the early part of the month has suddenly changed into regular old-fashioned winter weather, a North-east snow storm accompanied with high winds. Yesterday was as rough a day as we had this winter, the wind blew very hard all day, and the snow has drifted up the roads again. The Western Postman for St. Eleanor’s, &c., did not leave town until this morning, one day behind his time.

        

The Protestant, March 26

BOLD ROBBERY. On Wednesday, the 6th inst., Mr. George R. Mayhew, Tanner, of Margate, New London, discovered that his tan-vats, not very far from his dwelling, had been opened, and some £200 worth of leather stolen. The leather was ready for dressing. The thieves obliterated every trace of their operations, having returned the tan-bark to the vats and replaced the covers. Mr. Mayhew thinks the robbery occurred about a fortnight previous to the time he discovered his loss. No trace of the perpetrators of the theft has yet been discovered.

Jim Hornby: The 1861 census recorded 55 tanneries across P.E.I., which produced in that year 153,000 pounds of leather.

 

The Examiner, March 28

PLANS OF THE PROPRIETORY GOVERNMENT FOR CRUSHING THE TENANTRY. After all the boasting and self-laudation of the Government--after all their fine promises and confident predictions, it has come to this. We are to-day as far from a settlement of the Land Question as we ever were. The Land Commission and the Delegation have been both miserable failures. The Award of the one and the Report of the others have been both miserable failures. All the expenses, both direct and indirect, are a dead loss to the Colony. The cause of the tenantry is not in the smallest imaginable degree advanced.

J.H.: Some of the freewheeling rhetorical style of editor Edward Whelan, regarded as the best public speaker in the Island, is captured, especially in his outrageous  headline. While consistent with Whelan’s role as a leading member of the Liberal Opposition in the legislature, it also captures the feelings of a population quickly reaching a boiling point over the century-old land question: how to give tenant farmers a fair chance to gain ownership of the homes and farms they had developed?

 

The Vindicator, March 30

TENANT MEETING AT COVEHEAD. Resolved, that the tenantry of Lot 34 shall have the privilege of purchasing the fee simple of their farms at a rate, say ten shillings per acre for the best land in that township, with a gradual decrease for the residue, according to quality and location, with a full and final relinquishment of arrears of rent up to the year 1864.

Resolved, that it is indispensably necessary for the tenant to have six years given him for the fulfillment of his obligations to the proprietor.

Resolved, that if the foregoing resolutions be not complied with, the tenantry will consider themselves justifiable in resisting, to the utmost of their power, legally, all coercive measures that may be employed by the proprietor for the collection of rents.

J.H.: The meeting was held on March 7 at Saw Mill Bridge, Covehead. At this time, tenant meetings began to dictate terms under which they would buy the homes they currently leased — and began to     suggest that they would take the law into their own hands if their terms were rejected.

 

The Vindicator, March 30

PUBLIC MEETING OF THE TENANTRY ON LOTS 49 AND 50. The meeting was ably represented by Tenant and Freeholder, and prejudice, ere long, will be numbered among the things unknown and buried in oblivion. The freeholders in these localities are activated by sympathetic feelings of commiseration towards their more unfortunate fellow tenants, conscious that the interests of both tenant and freeholder are, in this age of intelligence and progression so amalgamated and intertwined, that what contributes to the contentment and prosperity of the one intimately affects the other.

J.H.: Held at Mount Mellick schoolhouse on March 16, many of the leaders of the movement were not tenant farmers but freeholders — men such as George F. Adams, Alexander MacNeill and Samuel Lane, all of  whom were involved in this meeting.

 

The Vindicator, March 30

CATHOLIC YOUNG MEN'S LITERARY INSTITUTE. Mr. A. [Archibald] McNeill lectured before the Institute last Friday evening on “A Federal Union of British America.” He would have the form of Government a Federal Republic--the Colonists to be divided into fifteen provinces, and the provincial representatives to meet at Quebec. In the discussion which followed the lecture, all the speakers expressed themselves as strongly opposed to any kind of Union of the Colonies. (W.W. Sullivan, Sec’y.)

J.H.: Archibald McNeill was a ship broker, legislative reporter and manager of the Charlottetown Reading Room at the corner of Water and Queen.

 

The Monitor, March 31

POLICE COURT. James McMurray appeared to answer a charge of driving a horse and sleigh without bells. Convicted, and fined 5s.

J.H.: The law said that you had to jingle all the way.

 

Jim Hornby’s column, "1864: The Way We Were: gleanings from Charlottetown’s newspapers," will be presented in The Guardian every Monday throughout 2014 (on holiday Mondays when there is no paper, it will appear on Tuesdays). It contains excerpts from various newspapers of that era, as well as Hornby’s comments on what he has found. To give feedback on this feature, which is presented in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Charlottetown Conference, contact the author at hornby@pei.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: New London, Land Question, Land Commission The Award Federal Union of British America Union of the Colonies

Geographic location: Iceland, Margate, Charlottetown Federal Republic Quebec

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