On Tuesday 4 October, the Diaspora Studies Graduate Workshop welcomed Shane Smith, a third year PhD student from the University of Northumbria. Shane’s paper, entitled “Business, Farming and Jolly Good Times”, charted the migration of the British and Irish soldiers to the Perth settlement in Upper Canada between 1815 and 1850.
Perth, south-west of Ottawa, formed the focal point of significant military re-settlement in the years immediately after the Napoleonic wars. Between 1815 and 1831, 1425 soldiers, together with their wives and children, settled in Perth. From the early 1830s, the balance shifted significantly to civilian emigration.
The central contention of Shane’s paper was that a small group within the military elite was well placed to dominate the administration, agriculture and business of an evolving community. Its members also played a pivotal role within the social life of the settlement. Seniority within the military enabled former officers to benefit from sizable grants of land of as much as 1000 acres. Allocation was essentially based on a tariff system according to seniority. In addition, all former military personnel could reasonably expect to receive one acre of land within the urban community of Perth. Shane considered the involvement and advancement of notable individuals in the civic life of Perth including Roderick Matheson and Anthony Lesley. The military, he argued, formed part of an interconnected world where patronage played a vital role.
Our next Diaspora Studies Graduate Workshop takes place on Monday 17 October when Dr Stephen Mullen of the University of Glasgow will speak on the emigration of Scots to the Caribbean between 1776 and 1838. His paper is entitled “Toil and Care under the Scorching Sun: Scots in Jamaica, 1776-1838”.