In the first full-length economic history of pre-Confederation Nova Scotia, Julian Gwyn challenges the popular myth that the British colony prospered before it became a province of Canada. Through his discussion of three periods in Nova Scotia's development (1740-1815,1815-53, and 1853-70) and four themes regionalism, imports and the standard of living, reciprocity, and the balance of payments) he shows that the colony's pre-Confederation economy was anything but glorious. Gwyn argues that Nova Scotia's economy suffered from numerous disadvantages and had few strengths. The 1755 deportation of Acadians destroyed a flourishing agriculture, and the limited extent of arable soil inhibited continuous, interconnected settlement: the colony's regions remained sparsely connected even at Confederation. During the generation it took agriculture to recover from the Deportation, lumber came to provide both an export in its own right and the basis for shipping and shipbuilding. However, thanks in part to the colonial assembly's neglect, the availability of ships did not lead to a prosperous fishing industry. Throughout the period under study, Nova Scotia remained very vulnerable to shifts in the North Atlantic economy and to changes in Britain's military spending and its relations with Nova Scotia's American and Canadian neighbours. British industrialization, changing patterns of trade with the West Indies, and the advent of steamships all challenged Nova Scotia's natural resource sectors and its shipping and shipbuilding, and Confederation necessitated yet another reorientation. While some sectors of the economy displayed real expansion during the early nineteenth century, Gwyn finds that overall the growth was "extensive" rather than "intensive" - it merely kept pace with expanding population, providing no base for the often-predicted glowing economic future. Excessive Expectations sheds light on the current economic problems faced by the Maritimes and will be of great interest to anyone seeking to understand the historical background of this part of the Atlantic's economy.
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.