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and even when monies are due, if payments are not punctually made, remittances must fail. Interest accumulates in England; and in Canada considerable expences of housekeeping, &c. are unavoidably incurred. If the profits do not meet these, or if the merchant has the misfortune to make bad debts, the consequence is evident, bankruptcy must ensue.
As the mercantile men in this country draw their resources from Britain, their real situation is not known except in Britain. They are often in Canada imagined to be men of fortune, when they are in fact on the verge of bankruptcy. By and by their drafts come back dishonored, and the bubble bursts; then fortunate is he who has had least to do with them*.
* To shew the encreased production and trade of Canada, there is added in the appendix a statement of the exports and imports of ast year, 1808.—It fo-ms a curious illustration of the efficiency of a brisk market, and high prices.
Canada, and the other British colonies in North America, have of late acquired an additional degree of importance to the mother country, from the existing differences with the United States; and assuredly neither ourWestlndia planters, nor our timber merchants, can trust to the States for supplies, as confidently as they have done heretofore; they must look elsewhere, and to no quarter so naturally as to our own colonies.
The obvious question for our consideration is, can our West India planters, our timber merchants, and our dockyards, get the necessary supplies from our North American colonies? or, to what extent can they be supplied?
The West Indies require to be supplied with Dried codfish,
Barrel or pickled fish,
Lumber, \\z. squared timber, scantling, planks, and boards; shingles, clapboards, oak staves, and hoops. Biscuit and flour; Indian corn and meal; pork, beef, butter, cheese, potatoes, and onions. Live stock, horses, oxen, hogs, sheep,
and poultry. Our timber merchants, and dockyards, require lumber of all sorts;—masts, yards, squared oak timber, plank, staves, pinetimber, deals, hemp, &c. Upon reference to the list of exports from Canada, it will appear that a supply of the whole of the preceding articles can be procured, but probably not to the extent necessary, except fish, which certainly can be got in any quantity in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, if not in Canada, and in the Gulf and river St. Lawrence.
The fisheries of our American colonies have had little or no direct encouragement from our government, though frequent representations have been made on the subject. It has been recommended to government to grant bounties, and to withhold from the Americans a share in the carrying to the West Indies, fish, lumber, &c. the produce of our colonies. It is a circumstance well known, that great part of the fish which the Americans carry to the West Indies, is caught and cured in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and sold to the merchants of Boston, who, from a variety of causes, can carry them to the West Indies, cheaper than our own colonists can. The American government have taken great pains to encourage this fish trade, by giving bounties, which operate strongly against the colonists: so much so, that they are in a great measure driven out of the trade.— This they say was not the case formerly, because, for nine years, viz. from 1785 to 1794, while American ships were excluded from the West Indies, they were so well provided with articles of the first necessity, that vessels from the northern colonies were frequently unable to find sale for their cargoesin our own islands, and were obliged to go to the foreign islands for a market.— Codfish at that time generally sold for less than five dollars per quintal, which proves its abundance, and consequently that the allowing the Americans to import fish in American ships was not a measure of necessity. It seems to be decidedly the opinion of the best informed people here, that with proper encouragement from home, the West Indies could be amply supplied with all sorts of fish, at moderate prices, from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Gaspe*.
It is certain that the fisheries of the United States, by the encouragement given to them by their government, increase to a great degree, although they labour under many disadvantages from the local situation of their country: while the British fishery, with the advantage of carrying on the fishing on their own coasts, declines every year, for want, it is presumed, of adequate encouragement from the mother country, and from the interference of the citizens of the United States, in a variety of shapes.
I have in my possession a very important document, shewing the amount of the provisions and lumber imported into our West India colonies, in the years 1804, 1805, and 1806, and distinguishing the countries whence imported. By compar* See appendix.—Memorial, and petition, of the merchants and other inhabitants of New Brunswick; also, petition of the merchants and inhabitants of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and memorial referred to therein.