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Yes – by God! we will be the envy of the American states!

For the week of Monday February 18, 2013

On February 20, 1746, Edward Winslow was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Although a Colonial New Englander by birth, Winslow helped establish the province of New Brunswick!

Painting by Henry Sandham entitled The Coming of the Loyalists, 1783.
© Library and Archives Canada / 1996-282-7

Edward Winslow was raised in Massachusetts as a loyal British subject. When the American Thirteen Colonies declared the War of Independence against the British Empire in 1775, Winslow joined the British troops. Winslow was not alone in remaining loyal to the British Crown. Many others also fought alongside the British, who called them Loyalists. To the Americans they were “Tories” and traitors, and after the war were not allowed to return to their homes. Some chose to go to England but this was not an option for many, including Winslow, as the journey was very expensive. So, Winslow chose to stay in British North America. He moved to Nova Scotia and became a Crown agent, responsible for laying out settlement lands for the disbanded Loyalist regiments and their families.

Nova Scotian politicians, however, opposed Winslow’s plans. They worried that the large settlement of Loyalists would not integrate into Nova Scotian society and would grow to politically rival the established government. Winslow refused to give up! He led an expedition to the sparsely populated north side of the Bay of Fundy where he found abundant resources for the Loyalists. 

Correspondence where Edward Winslow declares that the establishment of a loyalist province will make it “the most gentlemanlike place on earth”.
© University of New Brunswick / Letter from Edward Winslow to Ward Chipman, 7 July 1783

Although the area that Winslow explored was still within the boundaries of Nova Scotia, he suggested it become a separate Loyalist province. Despite the fact that there were already Acadian and Aboriginal peoples living there, Winslow claimed the land for the exiles, declaring: “Yes – by God! We will be the envy of the American states!”

Many Nova Scotians opposed the division of the province but, in 1784, the British Privy Council approved the creation of New Brunswick. The establishment of the province not only relieved tensions between Nova Scotians and Loyalist settlers, but also opened up administrative positions for the Loyalists.

Winslow held a number of distinguished positions in the new province, including appointments to the first Council of the College of New Brunswick (1800) and the Supreme Court (1807). He also served briefly as president of the Government of New Brunswick. These appointments, however, were more prestigious than profitable and Winslow died plagued by debt in 1815.

Edward Winslow was designated a national historical person in 1951 and the Founding of New Brunswick was designated as a national historic event in 1934.

To read more about the loyalists, please visit the This Week in History Archives: A Cry for Land and Loyalists Arrive in New Brunswick. To explore the online collections of Winslow’s correspondence, please visit the Atlantic Canada Virtual Archives.

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