Land, Power, and Economics on the Frontier of Upper Canada

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2001 - History - 747 pages
In this thorough study of an important period, Upper Canadian attitudes to land and society are shown to have been built on contemporary visions of the cosmos. John Clarke examines the actions of individuals from the perspective of the political culture and its manifestations, doing so within the constraints of geography and the cultural baggage of the settlers. Placing human action in the context of economics and laissez-faire capitalism, Clarke shows how almost unbridled acquisitiveness, and its concomitant land speculation, could promote or hinder development. The prevailing ideology in Ontario at the time was a conservative culture that rejected everything American and attempted to preserve the best of the British world in the new Eden. Those building the state believed that a social and political hierarchy composed of those possessing a "natural virtue" would serve society best. In consequence, a few individuals at the top of the hierarchy, through their access to power, came to control the bulk of the land, the basis of the economy. At the other end of the spectrum from the elite were those transforming the land and themselves through their own labour. How did the physical environment and government land policy affect the pattern of settlement and the choice of land for a viable farm? What was the price of land, and how common was credit? Did the presence of reserved lands hinder or promote development? How extensive was land speculation and how did it operate? Clark brings these issues and more to the forefront, integrating concepts and substantive issues through a problem-oriented approach. Blending qualitative and quantitative approaches, he weaves together surveyors' records, personal and government correspondence, assessment rolls, and land records to measure the pulse of this pre-industrial society.
 

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Contents

The Land Revealed The Physical Background
1
Peace Order and Good Government The Organization of a Landscape
33
Acquiring Indian Land in the Era of the Land Boards
92
European Land Acquisition after the First Land Board
153
The Market for Land Sales in Essex to Midcentury
206
Buying on Credit The Upper Canadian Dilemma
262
Who Were the Speculators and How Extensive Was Speculation?
293
The Strategies of Speculators
334
22 Documentary Sources for the Reconstruction of the Crown and Clergy Reserves
472
23 Documentary and Map Sources of Patent Data for Essex County Ontario
474
24 The McKee Treaty of 1790
475
25 Survey Systems of Essex County and Dates of Survey
477
26 Number and Type of Establishment in Each Centre
478
71 List of Speculators with at Least 400 Acres in One Period or Three Parcels of Unknown Acreage or at Least Three Transactions
479
72 Membership in Clusters Based upon Measures of Similarity of Acreage Owned Total Number of Transactions and Length of Time Held
483
73 Essex Biographical Research
484

Land and Power
377
The Corporate Sector
422
Context and Conclusion
441
Appendices
465
11 Essex Soil Quality and Drainage
467
21 Survey Documents
469
81 Sheriffs Deeds in Essex County 181852
511
Notes
517
Bibliography
649
Index
705
Copyright

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