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Reasons for the Voyage
Peter McLaren was born about 1779 in Breadalbane, Scotland, an area of Perthshire at the base of the Highlands and about thirty miles Northwest of Perth. In the previous century the McLaren clan had been on the wrong side of too many battles and had lost all their lands. Since land was wealth and status, the McLarens became tenants and tradesmen. Peter became a weaver.
In 1820 Scotland the weavers were battered by the perfect storm:
- The First Industrial Revolution had forced their transition from cottage industries (working at home) to factories in Glasgow and Paisley. Peter and his family were living in Glasgow, where the factories had initially done well supplying material for the military during the Napoleonic Wars.
- The Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, as did the War of 1812 with the United States, and Europe soon plunged into an economic depression. Factory wages fell, if jobs were even available, and starvation was not uncommon.
Moving families from Scotland to Canada would solve several problems:
- The War of 1812 made it clear that Britain's former colonies had designs on Canadian land. Maintaining a military presence along the Canadian border wasn't practical. If the government gave British citizens land in Canada, the new arrivals would occupy and defend the territory.
- Give a starving tradesman the opportunity to own land, help him learn to farm that land to support his family, and he can be convinced to leave his homeland.
- The departure of poor families would ease the strain on the British economy and open jobs for military personnel returning from the wars.
So the voyage would help the families, the government and the economy; and I'm sure it seemed like a good idea till they got on the boat.
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Updated March 28, 2021
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