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Big Picture

Big Picture: The Antigonish Movement of Eastern Nova Scotia

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Big Picture
    Book Description:

    In the 1930s, when the competitive, free market system lay in ruins and the competing systems of fascism and communism were gaining strength, the Antigonish Movement emerged offering a "middle way." The movement favoured putting in place an integrated and dynamic system based on cooperative economic institutions under the control of the people. The Antigonish Movement originated with the establishment of the Extension Department of St Francis Xavier University in 1928, with Reverend Moses Coady as director. Guided by the social teaching of the Catholic Church, the movement promoted an array of economic activity and attracted widespread attention around the world. Visitors flocked to Antigonish to witness ordinary people, fishermen, farmers, and industrial workers, organize and establish their own enterprises, from fish processing plants to credit unions and co-operative stores. In The Big Picture Santo Dodaro and Leonard Pluta trace the history of this remarkable experiment from its origins through a period of expansion during the 1930s and 1940s, while identifying the key factors - vision, education, and institutional framework - that contributed to its early success.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8728-1
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Leonard Pluta
  4. Tables and Figures
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    The Antigonish Movement, born out of the socio-economic conditions existing in eastern Nova Scotia during the 1920s and set in motion by the creation of the Extension Department of St Francis Xavier University in 1928 with the Roman Catholic priest and professor Moses Michael Coady as its director, is one of a number of economic movements that have emerged in Western countries over the past two centuries. The first such economic movement of lasting significance originated in Rochdale, England, where a group of unemployed weavers started the first modern cooperative store in 1843. The Rochdale Movement, as it became known,...

  6. 2 The Birth of the Antigonish Movement
    (pp. 19-81)

    The Antigonish Movement, which found formal expression in the creation of the Extension Department of St Francis Xavier University in 1928, was born out of the longstanding conditions of socio-economic decline that prevailed in eastern Nova Scotia during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It attracted local, national, and international attention and acclaim largely for two reasons. First, it introduced a unique approach to socio-economic reform based on the principles of mass education and self-reliance, an approach sustained and supported by ordinary people with little outside assistance. It promoted social and economic reform and change through the establishment of a...

  7. 3 The Dynamic Expansion of the Antigonish Movement in the Midst of the Great Depression
    (pp. 82-124)

    The 1930s are generally perceived as the heyday of the young Antigonish Movement in action, characterized by a virtual explosion of wide-ranging activities. This period also witnessed the spread of the movement from its initial area of operation in eastern Nova Scotia to the other maritime provinces, Newfoundland, and the Magdalen Islands. At the same time, the movement also attracted national and international attention and support, creating enormous enthusiasm but also exaggerated confidence and expectations.¹ In retrospect, such dramatic expansion of the movement within less than a decade and the immediate international recognition that it received proved to be a...

  8. 4 The Years of Turbulence, 1940–49
    (pp. 125-158)

    The 1940s began concurrently with the outbreak of the Second World War, catching the Antigonish Movement at its most critical time. The war effort depended on industrial capacity, technological sophistication, and the mobilization of the whole population and all available resources.¹

    The massive war effort, ironically, brought an end to the Great Depression, generated full employment, dramatically increased the country’s industrial capacity, and raised the level of personal income and the stock of accumulated savings. Throughout the Maritimes, thousands of young men and women left the farms, fishing villages, and towns to join the armed forces. The miners went back...

  9. 5 The Years of Transitions, 1950–59
    (pp. 159-202)

    The 1950s, characterized by postwar economic expansion and prosperity, presented a series of additional challenges for the Antigonish Movement. Dramatic improvements in transportation and communications further reduced the relative isolation of the region, which had hitherto bestowed upon the Extension Department a virtual monopoly over information. At the same time, there was also an unprecedented expansion in public education, particularly at the postsecondary level, which increased the social and spatial mobility of the population, especially among the young. The expansion in education, along with increased urbanization and industrial development, prompted a new wave of out-migration from the rural areas, reaching...

  10. 6 The Unravelling of the Movement, 1960–69
    (pp. 203-249)

    Despite facing mounting difficulties, the Antigonish Movement was able to adapt to the changing conditions of the 1950s and thus not only survived the decade but also did so with a seemingly remarkable degree of vitality and vigour. That all was far from well came fully to the fore in the 1960s as the movement began to quickly unravel. Faced with deteriorating economic conditions in the region, the persistent difficulties and eventual collapse of its most ambitious undertaking in the form of Eastern Co-operative Services (ECS), and a fundamental change in the role of the Extension Department, the movement lost...

  11. 7 The Last Hurrah, 1970–2000
    (pp. 250-302)

    At the beginning of the 1970s, the Extension Department of St Francis Xavier University found itself in an unenviable position. As a result of the radical transformation that had taken place during the 1960s, its programs were floundering in disarray, and it was dropped by practically every development partner, notably the federal Department of Fisheries, the Nova Scotia Housing Commission, and those in the cooperative sector. Many of its programs and functions were taken over by government and other agencies, and its finances were in tatters. The Antigonish Movement, predicated on the establishment of an alternate economic system, made up...

  12. 8 Conclusions and Prospects
    (pp. 303-328)

    The Antigonish Movement emerged out of the desperation, poverty, exploitation, rural decline, and out-migration that plagued eastern Nova Scotia in the 1920s. Still, such desperate conditions were by themselves not sufficient to give rise to a unique and dynamic socioeconomic movement predicated on the establishment of a unique alternate economic system. There were other regions and countries experiencing similar or, in some cases, even more deplorable conditions, yet they did not generate a similar movement aimed at socioeconomic improvement. Although the desperate conditions facing the population of eastern Nova Scotia showed the failure of the existing system to meet the...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 329-384)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 385-394)
  15. Index
    (pp. 395-408)