In April of 1819; a group of 180 Welsh settlers bravely left their hometowns and families inWales. With minimal supplies: they set sail on the brig Albion bound for Saint John NB. They had dreams of beginning a new life in British North America and great hopes for better opportunities for their loved ones. By June of that year, they successfully landed in Saint John NB.
It was known amongst the settlers that the The Legislative Assembly; in Fredericton, was granting parcels of land to newcomers. So by mid July; they once again journeyed towards that hope of an opportunity for a better life. They were soon granted parcels of land approximately 15 miles outside Fredericton; towards Stanley NB. The intent was to establish their own community; of Welsh settlers in NB, in a place that would become known as Cardigan.
Hardships would soon prevail. They were not prepared for the hardwork, skills and supplies needed to clear the land and build shelters. With the impending arrival of a harsh Maritime winter; by September, many wandered back to the city. Thank goodness they had the presence of mind to do so. Fredericton was a small town then and this influx of immigrants caused much concern amongst the citizens. They knew first hand about the trials and tribulations of homesteading. Therefore; it was feared that the Welsh would perish from malnutrition and inadequate shelter. The kind citizens banded together and formed an Emigrant Society. They set up shelters, provided food and supplies to help them survive the coming winter.
Back in Cardigan; there were eight families who were able to settle their land and build shelters for their families. They indured a very harsh winter with the cold weather and little food. Unfortunately; a few of these brave people did perish.
News of the existing settlers survival; back in Cardigan, soon travelled to the settlers in Fredericton. By that spring they set out with great strength and determination to reestablish their place in their own community. The Emigration Society provided people with the knowledge, skill, and tools to help them clear their land and set up habitation. By the fall of 1820; the Welsh had set up roots in Cardigan and it soon prospered as a booming farming community.
The Welsh proved to be very successful in the coming years. They made major contributions to NB and the Canadian Society that had taken them in so many years ago; when they were so vulnerable. Cardigan flourished until the end of the second World War. At this time; migration out of the rural areas had began. Today; much of the land has been reclaimed by nature but the village remains in a reduced fashion.
This past summer(2019); a celebration was held in Cardigan to commemerate the Welsh forefathers arrival to this new land; 200 years ago. We can only imagine the human suffering they indured to finally establish a community of Welsh settlers in NB. So many brave souls. We have a saying here in the Maritimes: “No Pain…No Gain!: Just maybe it came from these situations. Good, strong, people working together with their dreams and hopes in the forefront. These settler were proof positive of this axiom. We celebrate our early settlers! Be so proud!
Check out the Welsh cakes recipe in Mama’s East Coast Kitchen. Easy to make and tastey too!