The King’s Mills in Niagara-on-the-Lake (1784-1794)

Hi all, it’s been a while since my last post so it’s time I give an update on my research!

Things are slowly coming together here; my data set is growing and my analysis of Niagara’s early economy continues to develop. I’ve made a few ArcGIS map drafts now, and I’ll post the latest one here in this blog so you can see what I’ve been working on. Keep in mind that these maps are continually developing and still need fine tuning, but they’ve been useful so far in revealing a few things about local development that I hadn’t really considered before.

Continuing with the Servos accounts that I had written about in previous posts, I wanted to visualize these patterns of local exchange, specifically in the markets of lumber and flour which were two of the province’s main staple products during the 19th century. For the sake of brevity I’ll only discuss Niagara’s wheat economy in this blog post. Because this analysis investigates a span of only one decade (1784-1794), the results are somewhat limited; my conclusions are tentative as I continue to collect data for the next two decades. This analysis, albeit narrowly focused, reveals valuable information about Niagara’s early economy. By looking at this market I considered some of the questions commonly discussed in Canadian economic history such as:

  1. Agency, or the question of who held power within society, and how was it manifested? What does this map tell us about the choices made by farmers in Niagara, the level of British investment or the influence of merchants?
  2. What does the quantity of product and its movement through the region reveal about Niagara’s skilled labour force, reaction to market fluctuations, or the overall demand for the product? Who was involved in this supply chain and how?
  3. What was the impact of geography on settlement and rural trade patterns?

Method:

This map is a projection of the data found in Volume 1 of Niagara miller Daniel Servos’ account books, recording transactions at the King’s Mills in Niagara-on-the-Lake from the years 1784-1794. For more info on Servos and the King’s Mills, see my last post. I created an Excel spreadsheet with the name of the customer, their township of residence, the quantity of flour they had milled, and its value in shillings. Then, using historical maps of Niagara townships I determined the location of the individuals’ farms and entered the appropriate X and Y coordinates into the spreadsheet.

This method is time consuming yet rewarding, one of my main issues being the fact that not every account can be accurately pinpointed. Some names are indecipherable, some don’t appear in any maps, censuses or archival references, and some owned multiple pieces of land in different townships. These X and Y coordinates are the result of weeks of research and provide a general picture of farm locations in Niagara with a few possible outliers, which can’t be avoided when dealing with incomplete amalgamations of sources.

The GIS contains a few historical maps of Niagara townships in the late 18th century, a modern soil map, the flour and lumber sales per year, and the peninsula’s very first saw & grist mills. If you click on the arrow on the left side of the map a legend will appear and you can toggle the layers for each of the years to see who interacted with Servos at the King’s Mills, what they were selling, the quantity, price, and where their home farm was located. I’ve embedded the map below, but it is easier to work with from the ArcGIS Desktop App if you click on this link: https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=14b75b69233c4b078ae4d1e5efafea14

Map Analysis: What Does it Mean?

Communities in Niagara were centered around saw and grist mills as an economic junction where production and consumption took place. Historian Joshua MacFayden talks about this concept in his book on Canada’s 19th century flax industry, saying that a flax mill was “a place where former slave owners, Unionists, and escaped slaves worked together, not equally, and not exactly cheek by jowl, but together.” [1] The Servos accounts show a similar union of people from all walks of life; ex-slaves like Peter Long, prominent Mohawk women like Molly Brant and merchants like Samuel Street and Robert Hamilton intersected at the King’s Mills, forming a web of social and material interactions.

The King’s Mills brought people together from within Niagara township, but the map shows that for the first few years people had to travel great distances to mill their wheat and corn. In total, 65% of the 179 people that held an account with Servos between 1784-1794 lived within 10 miles of the mills. You can see this more clearly by clicking on the King’s Mill Buffer in the legend. The other 35% came from other parts of the Niagara peninsula, spanning as far west as Grimsby and as far south as Fort Erie and Port Colbourne. The escarpment didn’t prevent people from bringing their crops down to the King’s Mills, and some of these journeys would take 2-3 days. Why was this the case?

At first it was out of necessity. The map shows that in the years 1784-1789, Servos had a few customers come to NOTL from Clinton and Grimsby Townships, but they stopped coming by 1790. This was because at first there were no other gristmills in the peninsula for the settlers of these districts to use, and thus they had no other options but to travel the far distance. Once the mills on the Thirty and Forty Mile Creeks were built in 1789, Servos no longer saw those customers.

The King’s Mills brought together people from different townships within the Niagara district, forming social connections that spanned regional boundaries. When Grimsby farmer Jacob Glover came to Servos with wheat and corn, he left with a milled product but also brown sugar and rum. [2] Servos also charged him for one night’s lodging, making rent income a byproduct of his milling enterprise. People who brought pine logs to Servos would leave the mills having also bought flour for their families. The exchanges in these early days are not terribly complex, but they show the formation of a greater community in the Niagara peninsula… one that did not discriminate based on class, gender or ethnicity. The map forces us to think of these people spatially and take into account the unique transportation challenges many faced.


I plotted the other mills that appeared in Niagara between 1783-1792 onto the map as well. According to Surveyor General D. W. Smith, there were 14 sawmills and 10 gristmills in the Niagara peninsula in 1792. [3] I added an escarpment layer to the map and when activated we can see that 15/24 of the mills were built atop the escarpment. While this natural feature was in many ways an impediment to transport, the settlers were still able to harness its natural power to their benefit.

Like the King’s Mills, these other mills interspersed throughout the Niagara region each functioned as a hub of socio-economic activity for their individual townships. Burch’s Mills at the top of Niagara Falls serviced the entire Stamford & Willoughby townships. We can see in the map that the King’s Mills only had two customers from that area, even though Stamford and Niagara Township bordered one another. Both the King’s Mills and Burch’s Mills annually serviced the same 10-40 families within a 10-mile radius during this first decade, creating invisible lines that formed distinct communities.

Loyalist settlers required permission from the authorities if they wanted to build a mill, but half of the mills in this first decade were built without permission. Having multiple options for milling in these communities fostered competition, exemplified in Niagara Township as there were three different families operating mills on the Four Mile Creek by 1792. If you turn on the 1784 Niagara-on-the-Lake map layer and the Secord Mill buffer, you’ll see that the northern half of the Niagara district interacted with the King’s Mills more so than the lower half.

What this means is that the Secord Mills were likely taking those customers. If you turn on the Secord Mill Buffer and turn on all of the flour sale layers post-1787 there are only eight customers living within a 3-mile radius of the Secord Mills that chose to have their products milled at the King’s Mills. The other 80% of the King’s Mill customers in the Niagara district came from the northern half. Servos’ accounts show between 11-44 customers using the King’s Mills in the first decade of settlement. This doesn’t seem like very many people, especially since some of them only came to the mill once or twice in a year, but the Secord Mills could have been getting the same number of annual customers which would mean there was actually a lot more business going on in Niagara at this time than the account books suggest. Since I don’t know of any Secord account books in existence to support this hypothesis, I am making an assumption through the map projection that they provided a significant contribution to the settlement at Niagara, especially for a few years when the King’s sawmill was out of commission.

Having three different millers (Servos, Secord & Lutes) operating in this small area within the period of a decade show the population growing at a pace that required more than one miller to process the amount of wheat, corn, and lumber being brought in. Competition is a good thing because it pushes each person to produce the best quality outputs and offer fair prices to consumers. These milling developments in Niagara indicate rapid growth, accessibility, and allowed each person to make their own choice when investing in the economy.


ArcGIS maps are useful to spatial histories in their ability to combine elements of geography and history. Topographical studies of the Niagara region including field surveys and remote sensing are generated by modern researchers but can also apply to historical analyses. For example, if you turn on the 1989 Niagara soils layer it provides another dimension to this study. How did the quality of farmland affect settlement?

Another reason why the King’s Mills received fewer customers from the southern portion of Niagara township could be because it contained poorer soil than the north. There are a multitude of soil types in the Niagara peninsula ranging from sand to hard clay, and there are not many places where someone couldn’t grow a crop… especially the hardier crops like corn, wheat, rye, and buckwheat. One would think that Niagara-on-the-Lake would be prime farmland, being known for having a microclimate conducive to growing tender fruits. However, there are parts of Niagara-on-the-Lake that have hard clay soil (indicated as light and dark green areas), especially in the southwestern portion, that make crop growth more difficult than in other areas. Hence why the land is now home to the Niagara airport and not another vineyard! I think that extending this analysis another two decades will really indicate whether soil was the issue in that part of Niagara, pushing people to engage in other forms of labour or to sell the land and move further west.

Some historical maps of Niagara provide hints of what the soil was like. If you turn on the 1818 Francis Hall map layer, it shows the Louth/western Grantham area as “Black Swamp.” There was a distinct lack of customers from these areas throughout this entire period, which might have been intensified by land drainage issues. These lands on the Lake Ontario shoreline are described in primary sources as being extremely wet; people tried methods of building dams and digging trenches to dry out the ground. Elizabeth Simcoe even wrote that the Iroquois trail that ran along the bottom of the escarpment, now known as Hwy 8, was often obstructed. [4]

“The Governor thinks the country will derive great benefit by opening a road on the top of the mountain (where it is quite dry) from Niagara to the “Head of the Lake,” [Burlington] instead of going a most terrible road below, full of swamps, fallen trees, etc.”

When studying rural economies it is important to understand the geographic factors that affected settlement. In Niagara we know that the escarpment hindered north-south transportation, but historical & modern maps can show the greater extent of these issues. A snowball effect took place as wet land meant poor road construction, which meant limitations on transportation, which meant people often only went to the King’s Mill in the wintertime, which meant it was important to build good quality sleighs and own healthy oxen, but also that participation in the economy was limited by geographic features. One’s wealth and status did not matter; the playing field was leveled by these shared obstacles. Living near to a mill or waterway was a huge advantage, and these early lessons learned by Loyalist settlers formed the framework for roads that we still use today. Historian Andrew Burghart says that in Niagara the towns created the roads, not vice versa. [5] He means that although the Iroquois trail was formed by Indigenous peoples that hunted and traveled through Niagara, it was not always a viable route for a settler economy that relied on the movement of wagons with heavy bulk goods like grains and lumber. Therefore, north-south roads developed along the creeks in response to the needs of the new settlers.


The map also shows that it took at least ten years for a farm to become well-established in Niagara to the point where it could produce beyond subsistence and sell flour in bulk to merchants. Isaac Horton’s accounts provide a good example of these static numbers over the years, as he had 355lbs of flour milled by Servos in 1787, 394lbs in 1791, and 241lbs in 1794. There was a gradual rise in the number of customers at the King’s Mills per year, from eleven people in 1786 to thirty in 1793. The number of customers tripled within a decade, as did the amount of flour being milled, but the growth was not exponential. The price of a counterweight (112 lbs) of flour in 1793 was worth half of what it was worth in 1786. This meant that even though people were milling around the same quantity of flour each year, they were actually earning less as time went on.

It’s also noteworthy that during the “hunger winter” of 1787-88, Servos milled more flour than he had in previous years. Although first-hand accounts mention a poor crop yield that season, the famine cannot be completely attributed to a lack of food in Niagara. Rather, this was the year that the British government stopped sending rations to the area, resulting in a winter of rough adjustment for the Loyalists.

King’s Grist Mill Annual Figures

YearNo. of CustomersFlour Produced (cwt)Average Price per Cwt (s)Value of Flour Milled (£/cwt)
17861119.16360.1
17872027.536.650.3
17882230.834.252.7
17891820.541.742.7
17902222.440.245.1
17913063.732101.9
17922769.926.592.6
17933065.02994.1
179444Incomplete Data29.7Incomplete Data
Data gathered from “Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario

The ArcGIS map also hints that a large portion of the Niagara peninsula was still uninhabited by 1794, which slowed development. Although the entire peninsula had been surveyed & assigned to settlers, and many 100-acre plots had even changed ownership, much of the land in these districts were owned in bulk by retired officers of the British military. Surnames like McNab, Bradt, TenBroek, Butler, and Hare are seen often, some of them owning 1000-2000 acres. According to a 1783 census there were 46 families living in the district of Niagara with each family owning one or two 100-acre plots but each family cultivated only an average of 10 acres per year. If families could only improve that small amount of land, that means that hundreds of acres along the Lake Ontario shoreline were not being used.

Political reformer Robert Gourlay’s 1822 Statistical Account of Upper Canada shows that this was still an issue much later, land speculators buying thousands of acres and letting them lay bare for decades. Governor Simcoe and other provincial leaders encouraged settlement in Niagara, but saw the danger of having so many families in the peninsula originate in the American colonies, despite their oaths of loyalty to King George III. Gourlay argued that for Niagara to prosper it required a larger unskilled labour force to work on the farms and heighten agricultural production, but the way in which land was initially distributed retarded the potential for success as it slowed road construction and isolated localities. [6]


In this analysis the ArcGIS map suggests that farmers were greatly impacted by their geographical location both on a large and small scale, and they made choices that facilitated growth during this first decade of settlement. The developments in local milling indicated settler agency. Farmers chose who to trade and work with, made land improvements and developed capital assets without always asking for government assent. They saw the potential that Niagara had to offer including the gravitational benefits of the escarpment, a moderate climate and plenty of space for growth.

Government rations were only handed out for the first 3 years, so the people supported themselves very early on, but were aided by the fact that their taxes were low and they didn’t have to pay for their land, received restitution from war loss claims, and some got half-pay as officers in the military. These benefits provided a foundation for the farmers to work with, however, they still needed money to purchase seed, pay for milling services and other farm help, as well as farm tools & miscellaneous household items. Since cash was scarce, this resulted in the debt economy for the first few years as people paid each other back mostly through exchange of goods and labour. The government also controlled the influx of people settling in Upper Canada and their initial distribution of titles for land. Some of these decisions created long-term challenges that effectively slowed progress until the mid-19th century industrial period.

Merchants were not making a profit off of the work of Niagara’s settlers quite yet. Robert Hamilton made a lot of money during this decade, but it was not because of his ties to the local market, rather his other enterprises with the portage and his connections to partners in Detroit and Kingston. Hamilton’s interactions with Servos in these ten years only indicate that Servos delivered 35 loads of unspecified goods to him between Feb-May 1787, earning a total of £3.5 for this work. If merchants were buying large quantities of flour from settlers, it would have showed up in Servos’ accounts as bulk sales in the credits section.

The typical narrative of economic historians for Upper Canada during this period focuses on the importance of either staple materials themselves or the economic relationships in forming our nation’s socio-political structures. Joshua MacFayden suggests a social constructivist approach regarding the flax industry where “all societies set out ‘paths and diversions’ to establish terms by which objects are circulated and exchanged.” [7] It certainly seems that Niagara in the first decade of settlement adhered to the latter theory as farmers exhibited this agency in many forms. We are not seeing specific products dominate the local market or societal classes form based on commercial links. As the analysis continues and flour production ramps up, I am interested to see how these patterns develop.

Sources:
[1] Joshua MacFayden, Flax Americana: A History of the Fibre and Oil That Covered a Continent, (Monreal & Kingston: McGill-McQueen’s Press, 2018), 35.
[2] “Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. No. 42. MS 538. Archives of Ontario.
[3] Ernest Cruikshank, Notes on the history of the district of Niagara, 1791-1793, (Welland: Welland Tribune Print, 1914), 49, accessed from Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/notesonhistoryof26crui/page/n6/mode/2up.
[4] “The diary of Mrs. John Graves Simcoe, wife of the first lieutenant-governor of the province of Upper Canada, 1792-6,” ed. J. Ross Robertson, (Toronto: W. Briggs, 1911), 319, accessed through Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/diaryofmrsjohngr00simcuoft/page/318/mode/2up.
[5] Andrew Burghardt, “The Origin and Development of the Road Network of the Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 1770-1851”, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 59, no. 3 (1969), 435, accessed January 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2561724.
[6] Robert Gourlay, Statistical Account of Upper Canada, (London: Simpkin & Marshall, 1822), 428, accessed from Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/statisticalaccou02gouruoft/page/n6/mode/2up.
[7] MacFayden, Flax Americana, 18.

Life In Niagara: The Servos Family Enterprises (Analysis)

A Primary Source Analysis of the Servos Mill Accounts 1785-1816: Part 2

To read Part 1, click here. To recap, this blog post is based on the contents of Account Books I-IV and the Personal Account Book of Daniel Servos in the Servos Mill Records (1785-1826) collection found in the Archives of Ontario.

“Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. Index. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario

Question

What drove Niagara’s Loyalist Era economy?”

Analysis

In reading these sources, I will identify (5) main points concerning what drove Niagara’s Loyalist era economy.

  • 1. Niagara was operating a debt-based economy.

One constant throughout these records is the fact that the people who owed the Servos mills money could take 5 or more years to make their payments. For example, in 1785 Henry Young was charged £1-13-0 New York Currency (NYC) for Servos’ services of grinding wheat into 50 lb of flour but Young did not make a payment until July 2, 1790.

“Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. No. 26. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario

This pattern occurs throughout the accounts, with men and women piling up debts and not paying them off until much later. What has been extremely frustrating to me is the fact that there was often no record when, how, or if these debts were paid. The Credits section on the right hand page, which is typically meant to show payments by the customer, is often left blank or incomplete. This makes it difficult to figure out the patterns of local exchange since we don’t always know how people paid for the services that Daniel Servos provided in milling their flour and lumber. Since many of the Loyalists in Niagara came in groups from the colonies and knew each other previously, this would have made it easier to trust one another. In fact, 54% of the settlers in Upper Canada were originally from Tryon county in New York, and thus the Servos brothers would have known and trusted many of the people in the Niagara community. [1] While they had moved to a new part of the world, they were not completely isolated.

  • 2. People cared about building wealth, not gathering income.

Other historians have made this argument before, and it is quite evident in the Servos accounts. Canadian historian Douglas McCalla argues that the economy of Upper Canada in the late 18th century was not a subsistence economy. A subsistence economy is not based on money, but is a system “in which buying and selling are absent or rudimentary though barter may occur, and which commonly provides a minimal standard of living.” [2] McCalla says this is so because of the high levels of immigration, the region’s ability to survive substantial fluctuations in wheat prices, to produce commodities on a regular basis and to adapt to market concerns. [3] The Servos accounts confirm that the Niagara region was definitely functioning beyond mere subsistence.

So how did settlers in the Niagara region envision growing and prospering? Because the Servos family and other labourers operated in debt for so much of their lives, they were motivated to work towards building capital assets over a long period of time, rather than accumulating income. This meant stability for the future despite market fluctuations of staple exports. We also know that cash was scarce at this time, so debts were usually repaid via barter or personal labour. This is not to say that there was no money to be found… in fact, most Loyalists acquired money from the British government approximately 5-10 years after the war, helping them invest in capital projects like building mills, houses, shops, etc. [4] This included money from war loss claims, officer’s half pay, and annual salaries of Indian Department officers. However, Daniel Servos did not receive his war loss claims payout or his half pay for his wartime duties in the Indian Department until 1788, and his parcels of land in Niagara township were not officially granted until the 1790s. This made the first 5 years in Niagara very difficult for him as a middling-status miller, until he acquired some of this cash and started investing it in building small-scale commercial enterprises.

Daniel Servos’ farm with 50 cleared acres was one of the Niagara settlement’s top producers of wheat in 1787. [5] He also milled flour and timber for the people of Niagara from the King’s Mills, which were the first mills to ever be built in the region, and built a second set of mills by 1791 after the old ones had been destroyed. He built a shop and exchanged goods such as tobacco, rum, cloth, & dinnerware for his work in milling wheat and timber, acquiring such goods via wholesale markets. He rented his teams of horses and oxen to people to carry loads away from the mills, and he rented land to people for animals to pasture. He operated a blacksmith shop, and built items like sleighs, ploughs and farm implements. He made bags and shirts, meaning he provided weaving and sewing services as well. These were clearly all family ventures. Although it is not stated outright in the accounts, it can be inferred that his wife and children participated in this work and were vital to the family’s success.

Charges made to Street & Butler for sewing services in June & July of 1784. “Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. No. 6. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario
  • 3. Flour sales were one of the main drivers of Niagara’s early economy.

Flour was not the sole driver, but it was definitely a driver. In the first 10-15 years of settlement, flour exports from the Niagara region were insubstantial. Production was erratic due to bad weather, poor roads and communication. Excess flour produced in Niagara was sent to the local military garrisons such as Fort Erie, Fort Chippewa, Fort George, and Fort Niagara. The British government would pay high prices for Niagara produce in an attempt to aid the local economy in these nascent years. The American garrisons also provided a small market for flour, specifically Fort Niagara in 1797 which was the first summer that the Fort was in the hands of the Americans, being given to them by the British in the 1796 Jay Treaty. The third market that was not advantageous until at least 1800 was the Lower Canadian market. In the early 1800s the Niagara region became very involved in the export of this commodity, aided by [6]:
a. lower shipping costs
b. British crop failures
c. high flour prices in Quebec.

I looked for these market trends in the Servos accounts, and saw that they established a partnership in the late 1790s with William and James Crooks, lining up exactly with the Lower Canadian market trend. The Crooks brothers imported goods into Niagara and exported products such as flour, timber, potash, and furs from Niagara and beyond. Their partners in Montreal were Auldjo & Maitland, who were connected to manufacturers in London. [7] In the early 1800s, Servos’ relationship with the Crooks brothers proved advantageous as he sold flour to them in large quantities. Niagara’s settlers depended on merchant relationships to connect them with these external markets.

The Servos accounts also reveal major fluctuations in wheat prices from 1784-1816. At this time millers would normally take 1/12th of the quantity of flour milled as payment for their services, but Servos instead charges a fixed rate of anywhere between 2-7 pence per 1lb of flour he milled. The currency being used here was the standard “pound, shilling, pence (£sd)” system used by Britain where there were 12 pence in a shilling, and 20 shillings in a pound. Therefore, if we assume that this 2-7 pence/lb is 1/12th of what the total quantity of milled flour was worth, we can estimate that the government price of flour fluctuated between 2-7 shillings/lb during these years. These estimates line up with the rise and fall in national wheat prices that McCalla records in his research.

Douglas McCalla, “The “Loyalist” Economy of Upper Canada, 1784-1806,” Social History 16 no. 32, 1983, 288.

As we see in the graph above, a downturn in flour prices around 1800 incentivised Niagara farmers and millers to send their flour to the Lower Canadian markets which were buying for more than double what British purchasing agents were offering in Niagara. There are two major spikes in Servos’ price for milling flour, from 1788-1790, and from 1795-1799. Alternatively, Servos was charging low prices from 1792-1794, and from 1802-1804.

If we think back to my post on Upper Canadian wheat sales in 1797-1799 based on the Russell accounts, recall that the government was irritated with the farmers and merchants in Upper Canada for selling their flour to the Americans who were offering a price 5 – 10 shillings higher than the British. In March of 1798, Niagara merchants were making demands of up to 31.5 shillings per counterweight (1 cwt = 112 lbs), and British purchasing agent John McGill felt this was outrageously high [8]. Instead, he sent cheap flour from Quebec to the British garrisons near Niagara, forcing Niagara merchants to sell for less, fearing they might not otherwise sell it at all. McGill only paid between 20 – 22.5 shillings/cwt for Niagara’s flour in 1798. The table below shows all of the prices listed in the Russell accounts.

Flour Purchase Prices 1797-1799
DatePrice (Shillings per Cwt)LocationCountry
1797-07-1420KingstonBritish
1797-07-1522.5KingstonBritish
1797-07-1625KingstonAmerican
1797-07-1727.5NiagaraAmerican
1798-02-2422.5NiagaraBritish
1798-02-2522.5NiagaraAmerican
1798-05-0822NiagaraBritish
1798-05-1220KingstonBritish
1798-05-2322.5NiagaraBritish
1798-05-3020DetroitBritish
1798-06-0520DetroitBritish
1798-06-0620KingstonBritish
1798-06-2426NiagaraBritish
1798-06-2526DetroitBritish
1799-02-1820KingstonBritish
1799-02-1922.5NiagaraBritish
1799-02-2022.5DetroitBritish
Servos Milling Prices 1797-1799
DatePrice (Shillings per Cwt)LocationCountry
1797-03-1540.3NiagaraBritish
1797-12-2544.8NiagaraBritish
1798-03-1340.3NiagaraBritish
1798-04-1540.3Niagara British
1798-10-2044.8NiagaraBritish
1798-12-1044.8NiagaraBritish
1799-01-0344.8NiagaraBritish
1799-02-0244.8NiagaraBritish
1799-02-2240.3NiagaraBritish
1799-04-0140.3NiagaraBritish
1799-09-0129.1NiagaraBritish
1799-12-0129.1NiagaraBritish

If we compare the British accounts to the Servos accounts, we see that in 1798 Daniel Servos was charging his customers 40-45 shillings per cwt. for milling their wheat into flour. After the flour was milled, it was packaged in bags or barrels. Servos charged 9 pence per empty bag, which is equal to three quarters of a shilling. [9] Prices around 40-45 shillings are some of the highest amounts Servos ever charged his customers, and it looks like farmers were only getting half of that back from the government. This means that they could not turn much of a profit on flour sales, even in years with the highest government purchasing prices.

Before 1800, the flour could then be:
1. Taken back by the customer for their own consumption, or for them to sell.
2. Sold directly to someone else. For example, Robert Hamilton paid for 300 lbs. (or 3 cwt.) of flour to go to John Hainer on April 14, 1787. In this way, the mill also acted as a grain distribution centre.

Account with Robert Hamilton, April 14, 1787. “Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. No. 47. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario

After 1800, Servos’ partnership with William & James Crooks steadily grew. Flour was transported by land to the brothers’ storehouses at the site of present-day Fort Mississauga, about four miles east of the Servos mills, or it was loaded onto their vessel at the Four Mile Pond and sent from there down the St. Lawrence to the Quebec markets.

Account with Wm. & J. Crooks. Charges for transport of flour to their vessels in April, 1801. “Account Book Volume 3 1798-1816”. No. 27. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario
  • 4. Labour and goods in Niagara were expensive.

Since Niagara was so far from the ocean, it makes sense that imported goods cost more, due to the price of transportation. To acquire enough money or credit to pay for these goods, the price of produce in Niagara had to be a higher as well. Comparing the prices of a few commodities that appear regularly in the Servos accounts, we can see the relative value of these goods. Here are the average yearly prices on a few commodities over two decades.

Price of Goods in Niagara
ItemUnit (shillings)1787 Price1797 Price1806 Price
Flourper cwt. (112 lbs.) 32.83824
Wheatper bushel8107
Cornper bushel1085
Branper bushel422
Oats per bushel654
Tobaccoper pound455
Rumper gallon162420
Oxper oneN/A300280
Pigper oneN/A50N/A
Calfper oneN/A24N/A
Shoesone pair of men’s41014

These numbers show a decrease in the price of grains such as wheat, corn, bran and oats by the mid 1800s. The market trends that affected the sale of flour, such as lower shipping costs and higher prices in Quebec had the same affect on the sale of these commodities. After 1800, Servos sold grains in larger quantities to the Crooks brothers to send to Lower Canada so they could take advantage of this market.

Account with Wm. & J. Crooks. Charges to the customer for various items 1808-1810. “Account Book Volume 3 1798-1816”. No. 114. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario

The accounts also show how important animals were for the survival of a family farm. A yoke of oxen cost around 600 shillings, which is equal to £30. Teams of oxen were used by Servos to transport goods by land across Niagara, often to merchants located along the Niagara River. The loss of cattle or horses in peak season, especially before 1800, was a great impediment to any family’s development.

The price of labour is more difficult to chart because it relies on multiple factors such as the type of work, gender of the labourer, their skill level, if they required lodging, or what season they were in. Here are a few examples of labour that appear in the Servos accounts:

YearType of LabourPrice (Shillings)Unit
1784Making a fine shirt10per shirt
1784Making a calico shirt4per shirt
1786Unspecified work4per day
1791Cutting wood4per day
1791Transporting corn12per day
1791Work in the shop6per day
1794Thrashing wheat4per day
1801Work at the sawmill4per day
1803Splitting rails62per 1000 rails
1803Unspecified work3per day
1805Making a long coat24per coat
1806Cradling oats6per day
1806Carding wool 80per cwt
1807Work in hay8per day
1807Work on the roads6per day
1808Unspecified work6per day
1808Weaving linen1per yard
1808Cradling wheat8per day

Putting this data into a line graph will not tell us much about the price of labour over time because each type of work is different. However, what this data does show is that working could earn someone between 3-12 shillings per day. Usually, Servos records men and women working for a few days or weeks in a row, doing so to pay off the debts that they owed him. Having a large family helped to divide these types of labour in the colonial period. When Daniel Servos took over operation of the King’s Mills in 1785, he had a wife and three children under the age of 12, so it was a while before he was able to rely on his family for help. However, I have read a story online by a local woman that a black man named Robert Jupiter worked with Servos, and it is unknown whether he was slave or free at this time. He is buried in a little cemetery next to the Four Mile Creek. I did not see this full name anywhere in the Servos accounts, so I do not know what to make of their relationship. However, I have seen at least three references to a “Bob” which could very likely be Jupiter.

Account with William Claus. Mention of a delivery to Claus by “Bobb the Negro”. “Account Book Volume 2 1797”. No. 2. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario

It also helped to have a variety of skills, to work hard, and to work smart. By working smart, I mean that new settlers seemed to invest in equipment and machinery to make their work more efficient. In 1785 Servos made two sleighs and a plough. In 1804 he sold part of a stove for £2-8s. In 1805 he sold a packing machine for £5-12s.

What all of this tells us is that Niagara’s Loyalist era economy depended on local exchange, labour, and investments. Yes, Niagara’s entrance into the Lower Canadian market after 1800 shows that economic development still required external inputs in the form of British government expenditures, commercial credit from merchant firms in Montreal, and export earnings, BUT external forces were not enough to establish successful farms and businesses in Niagara. People like the Servos family invested external funds into building capital in the form of mills, blacksmith shops, roads, etc., and they created links between neighbours through local exchange. The Servos accounts support McCalla’s arguments about the importance of household production for economic development in the Loyalist era.

  •  5. The days before the arrival of Governor Simcoe in 1792 could be exploited to the people’s advantage.

It can be argued that since Daniel Servos took more chances under an absent government, this allowed him to establish a solid foundation of enterprises for his family to build on throughout the next few decades. So what are the steps that Daniel Servos took to determine success in his enterprises? What “chances” did he take?

He ignored government regulations on the building of mills, erecting a saw and grist mill on lands in 1791 that were technically not yet owned by him. In fact, four of the six mills on the Four Mile Creek in 1792 were not authorized by the government, who had been contending with settlers over the last ten years in an attempt to establish a seigneurial system wherein settlers could not legally own the mills on their land. [10] Servos also dammed a section of the Four Mile creek, cutting a passage of water through properties he did not own, without asking permission to alter the landscape. I see this as a reflection of the republican lifestyle he had growing up in Tryon county, believing in inherent principles of individual liberty. No doubt he was also frustrated by the British government’s inability to keep their word; the lands reserved for the crown between Lake Ontario and the first survey line were meant for the building of mills for the settlement, but the government did not make this a priority. Many other sources show frustration from settlers in the 1780s over the fact that they could not construct these facilities without the proper equipment, constantly waiting for supplies from Quebec. Servos felt that an “it’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission” approach was his best option, for the good of his family and the people of Niagara.

By 1792, Daniel Servos had built a new house on the west side of the Four Mile Creek, nearer to his new mills. He and his family operated the mills, tannery, store, weaving facility, and blacksmith shop. A potash works was added later, and by 1799 another potash works was begun on the Fifteen Mile Creek. In 1797 he acquired legal title to the mills he constructed. Entrepreneurial activities like these were key for success in Niagara’s Loyalist era economy. His legacy left throughout the 19th century reflect the initial choices he made in the Loyalist era.

Notes to Conclude with:

1) It was not loyalism or patriotism that motivated Daniel Servos in his business dealings. He was worried about survival, about establishing a good life and thriving businesses for his family. He disregarded many British mill regulations, fought against land ownership laws throughout the 1790s, and demanded high prices for his services. We could assume that his children carried these same values, but his eldest son John Dease Servos mysteriously wrote “God save the King” four different times in one of the volumes. He would have been in his early twenties. Why did he do this? Perhaps being raised and educated in Upper Canada would have made him subject to patriotism more than it did his father who had been raised in a different environment.

2) There seems to be a disconnect between the elite operating the Niagara portage (Robert Hamilton), and the middling folk operating small businesses on their own property. Distance was not an issue, as Hamilton lived in Queenston which was not far from the Servos mills, yet the two don’t really cross paths more than once or twice in these accounts. The Crooks brothers were middle men for many people in Niagara, reaching between the Niagara River and Ancaster, operating a distribution business that connected the people to external markets. Hamilton was part of a much larger system that reached beyond Niagara into the continental interior, but he too had merchant shops in the region that allowed him to trade with locals. The Servos-Crooks connection shows us that elite merchants did not have a monopoly on Niagara’s exports. Instead, farmers and millers were able to make choices about who they wanted to partner with.

Sources:
[1] J. Anthony Doyle, “Loyalism, Patronage, and Enterprise: The Servos Family in British North America 1726-1942,” PhD diss., (McMaster University, 2006), 10.
[2] Webster’s Definition. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/subsistence%20economy.
[3] Douglas McCalla, “The “Loyalist” Economy of Upper Canada, 1784-1806,” Social History 16 no. 32, 1983, 303.
[4] Doyle, “Loyalism, Patronage, and Enterprise,” 222.
[5] Ibid., 183.
[6] Bruce Wilson, The Enterprises of Robert Hamilton: a study of wealth and influence in early Upper Canada, 1776-1812, (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1983), 83.
[7] Doyle, “Loyalism, Patronage, and Enterprise,” 196.
[8] Compiled by E. A. Cruikshank, and Andrew F. Hunter, The Correspondence of the Honourable Peter Russell : With Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada during the Official Term of Lieut.-Governor J. G. Simcoe, While on Leave of Absence, Volume Two, (The Ontario Historical Society, 1932), 126.
[9] Charges made to Street & Butler for sewing services in June & July of 1784. “Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. No. 6. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario.
[10] Doyle, “Loyalism, Patronage, and Enterprise,” 278.

Life in Niagara: The Servos Family Enterprises (Intro)

A Primary Source Analysis of the Servos Mill Accounts 1785-1816: Part 1

I’m back! Since my last post, I’ve been working with a quite a few more primary sources, and I’d like to give an update on one particular collection of accounts that deal with an area of what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake, near the mouth of the Four Mile Creek. This collection I’m referring to are the milling records of the Servos family.

Background

The last blog post I wrote was based on a collection of writings by the Hon. Peter Russell, looking specifically at the supply of the British garrisons in Upper Canada in the mid-late 1790s and how communities like Niagara were involved. The Servos collection is quite different and allows for more of a “bottom-up” approach towards this part of Niagara’s history. The Servos collection exists as one of the best kept collections of early Loyalist records in the Niagara region. The Niagara Historical Society Museum holds 544 archival items and 309 artifacts relating to multiple generations of the Servos family here in Niagara! [1] Brothers Daniel and Jacob Servos and their families came to Niagara in 1785 as some of the area’s very first farmers and millers. During the American Revolution the Servos family lived in Tryon County in New York, eventually becoming divided in loyalties and the brothers forced to relocate.

So how did they come to settle in Niagara?

In May of 1781 the British government purchased from the Chippewa and Mississauga peoples a strip of land on the west bank of the Niagara River four miles wide and stretching from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. The intention was to have a few families settle there and farm the land to provide for the growing refugee population at Fort Niagara. The very first saw and grist mills dubbed the “King’s Mills” were built in 1783 under the supervision of Lt. David Brass at the mouth of the Four Mile Creek on the east bank, and Daniel Servos was appointed official mill operator in 1785. These mills were destroyed by a freschet in 1790 and Servos built a second set of mills on the west side of the Four Mile Creek in 1791.

To better understand the area we are talking about here, take a look at the images below. Figure 1 is an historical map of Niagara Township circa 1784, courtesy of Brock University’s historical map collection. In Figure 2, I’ve added highlighted the land belonging to Daniel Servos (green) and Jacob Servos (yellow), and mapped the locations of the two mill sites in question (blue). I’ve also made the historical map semi-transparent so that you can see it georeferenced on the present day map of Niagara-on-the-Lake, making it easier to understand the Servos family properties in a modern day context.

Figure 1 (Click to enlarge)
“Niagara Township, plan A.” (1784) Historical Maps of Niagara. Brock University Map, Data & GIS Library.
Figure 2

Method

Fortunately, some record of the Servos mills still exist today and make great sources for studying economic activity on a rural scale in Niagara’s pioneering society. I had first heard about the Servos account books from the helpful ladies at the Friend’s of Lincoln’s History archives in Vineland. They kindly offered me a digital copy of Servos Mill Account Book Volume I 1785-1795, however, the pages are quite dark and difficult to read. A week later, I went to the Archives of Ontario (AO) at York University in Toronto and made my own digital copy of this account book. The original microfilms at the AO are still difficult to read, but I did manage to make lighter copies.

At this point I realized there was more than one account book in existence, so I ended up copying five of the account books from the microfilm reel, omitting only Vol V because the dates 1824-1826 are not relevant to my time period. This blog post is based on the contents of Account Books I-IV and the Personal Account Book of Daniel Servos. Being one of the most complete existing sets of late 18th century Niagara business records, my hope was that these volumes could tell us more about what drove Niagara’s economy in the Loyalist Era.

Account Book Volume I 1785-1795″. Index. Daniel Servos Records 1779-1826. MS 538. Archives of Ontario

As I worked my way through these account books I collected the following:

  1. QUANTITATIVE INFORMATION. I entered statistical information into an Excel spreadsheet so I can later use that data for visualizations. This includes the names of specific accounts, dates of transactions, commodities purchased and sold, quantities, units, prices, currency, and forms of labour.
  2. QUALITATIVE INFORMATION. I considered questions like:
    a. What do these accounts reveal about the types of people farming in Niagara (class, gender, ethnicity) and how they each contributed to the early economy?
    b. What did the building of capital assets look like during these first few decades?
    c. What was the reaction to market price fluctuations in commodities like wheat?
    d. Were business transactions driven by internal or external economic factors?
    e. Do we see any political motivations within business transactions?
    f. Do we see evidence of British paternalism?
    g. What was the relationship like between farmers/millers and larger merchant enterprises?

Question

Every so often I need to re-focus and think back to this over-arching thesis question: “What drove Niagara’s Loyalist Era economy?”

Analysis

I will post the results of my primary source analysis over the next few days. I still need to fine-tune a few notes before releasing them publicly. Besides, this blog post is already long enough! Stay tuned…

Sources:
[1] J. Anthony Doyle, “Loyalism, Patronage, and Enterprise: The Servos Family in British North America 1726-1942,” PhD diss., (McMaster University, 2006), iv.

Primary Source Analysis: Learning about Wheat, Peas & Corn in 1790’s Niagara

It’s been a while since my last post! I just thought I’d share some insight on a primary source collection that I’ve been working through lately, and what its been teaching me about Niagara’s Loyalist-era economy. Upon suggestion by my supervisor, I have been reading through some of the personal correspondence of the Hon. Peter Russell as compiled in three volumes by E. A. Cruikshank and A. F. Hunter for the Ontario Historical Society in the 1930s. These papers reflect a period of Russell’s life when he was appointed to fill in for Upper Canadian Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe during a leave of absence in the late 1790s. The province of Upper Canada only becoming established in 1791, this was an important position still in its infancy. These volumes contain not only the correspondence of Peter Russell, but also letters that reflect the workings of the British administration in the early days of this colonial province. This means that letters from people like Joseph Brant, Governor Simcoe, John MacDonnell, and even Minutes of the Executive Council are included. While the sources themselves reflect a host of topics, primarily discussions surrounding land purchases and the relationship between the British administration and the people of the Six Nations, there is still much that can be gleaned from conversations about economic policies and matters of military supply.

These writings reflect crop growth and the distribution of wheat, peas and corn in the late 1790s, routes of transport via crude roadways and the Great Lakes network, relationships between farmers, merchants and administrators in Upper Canada, and their interactions with Americans in new neighbouring states. This information can be used to either support or contradict arguments from historians like Harold Innis, who believed that at this time the trade of furs & timber and exports of wheat & flour were fundamental to the growth of the province of Ontario, and Canada as a whole. It does the same for arguments from more recent historians like Douglas McCalla, who believes that the primary sources we draw from can change the way we understand this part of our nation’s history. He states: “the vast majority of the settlers, who actually made the new economy, necessarily invested their lives and funds into smaller projects ad specific places. When we look at the economy from their perspective, most of the patterns, timing, and momentum of development are not explained by the staples approach or the specific political events that it highlighted.” [1] Considering Peter Russell’s elevated position, are these sources more likely to support an Innisian thesis? How might the authors’ decisions about what letters to include or exclude in these volumes affect how we interpret these years in Canada’s history? These were just some of the questions I had in approaching these documents.

So, do you want to keep reading?

Just Kidding…

What I learned from these letters:

  1. The British government’s paternal relationship with Niagara farmers is a complicated one. When incentivising settlers to come to Upper Canada from the former American colonies, the British had to make a lot of concessions that did not necessarily help them financially, but was worth it because it meant they were getting the people they wanted for this new province. In the 1790s the government financed and built storehouses and wharfs in Queenston, Chippewa and Fort Erie for the purpose of bettering the Niagara River Portage route, they provided the majority of vessels used in shipping across the Great Lakes, they continued to buy the local produce from Niagara farmers despite the low quality, erratic supply & high prices being demanded, AND they even would pay for the cost of transport! [2]

    However, there are clear moments of frustration with Niagara farmers in the late 1790s. John McGill who was the purchasing agent for the Province of Upper Canada reveals these issues in his letters. In the spring of 1798, McGill anticipated not being able to fill the quota of flour he was required to purchase for the army storehouses in Upper Canada. In a letter from March, he wrote to James Green, Military Secretary in Quebec, estimating he would not get more than 1000-1200 barrels of flour from the Midland & Eastern districts, which was much less than he had received from those areas in previous years. [3] This was not because of any crop shortage; in fact the Niagara peninsula had actually produced a good crop that year. The reason for this low estimate was because the farmers expected to get a price for the flour that McGill felt was way too high. The price is not specified, but that same month he mentioned getting an proposal from Detroit farmers of thirty-one shillings and six pence Canada Currency per counterweight in barrels, and this being outrageously high. McGill’s suggestion to rectify this Niagara issue was for Green to order “a few hundred Barrels or even a few Bateau loads of Flour” [4] to be shipped to Kingston from the Commissary General in Quebec, being convinced that “it would have a very good effect not only in preventing a rise in the price of this Article, but likewise induce the Farmer to bring forward his Store in proper time.” [5] Two months later, McGill ordered 50 barrels of flour at twenty-two shillings per cwt. to be delivered to Fort George. As it turns out, McGill’s idea to flood the market with cheaper flour from Lachine was successful in forcing the hand of the farmers to sell their produce at a lower price, for fear of not being able to sell it at all if there was going to be other flour available. McGill wrote to Green that after getting word in April about the expected arrival of this flour, he made the news public in Niagara and “in a day or two afterwards declared that I would not give more than Twenty shillings per cwt., cask included. 296,800 pounds of flour have since been purchased on those terms, with 637 Bushels of Pease at five shillings a Bushel in Barrels, the whole to be delivered to His Majesty’s Magazines in Kingston on or before July 1.” McGill still expected to receive even more flour than this.

Thus, these letters show the complicated relationships between administrative and military bodies, merchants and farmers. While the British administrations were paternalistic, the middle men like McGill and Green were constantly struggling with how to profit in their individual roles. Roadblocks resulting from the growing pains of this new society are evident in McGill’s DCB biography where we read:

“he was often frustrated by a jurisdictional quarrel between the civil authority of the lieutenant governor in Upper Canada and the military authority of the commander-in-chief at Quebec, a quarrel which also raised similar if lesser difficulties for the surveyor general and the deputy superintendent general of Indian affairs. McGill was held accountable to the commissary general at Quebec, John Craigie*, although he and Simcoe had expected otherwise. Contracts to supply troops in the upper province were awarded over his head from Quebec, and he was ordered to limit his purchases to requisitions sent from there. Worse, his complaint about the profiteering of merchants and about irregularities in supplies from Lower Canada finally drew the rebuke from the commander-in-chief, Lord Dorchester [Carleton*], “that anything further on that head is unnecessary.” Simcoe protested in vain that McGill was being reduced to “a public Accountant without Power.”

The primary sources in these volumes sources show us that policies towards Niagara farmers, and high-level visions for the purpose and future of Upper Canada were not black and white. Administrators often disagreed with one another and the paternalism that Niagara farmers enjoyed was inconsistent.

2. Another important theme in these letters is that there were evolving relationships between farmers in the Niagara region and the Americans in New York. Historian Alan Taylor argues that late Loyalists, or those who came to Upper Canada after 1792, were often viewed with suspicion by the United Empire Loyalists who came over in the previous decade, immediately after the end of the American Revolution. [6] The reason for this is because many UELs felt that the latent ideas of republicanism that late Loyalists had grown used to in the spirit of the American Revolution impacted how they thought about relationships between governments and their people. As Taylor puts it: “Americans looked to a republic to safeguard their liberal aspirations. To their north, the British designed Upper Canada to discourage such aspirations- except within narrow bounds carefully patrolled by executive power.” [7] So what do these primary sources tell us? Well, these documents seem to suggest that the farmers were not totally loyal to the British government, supporting Taylor’s arguments.

In the spring of 1797, McGill complained that the farmers in Niagara were selling their flour and peas directly to the Americans at Fort Niagara who offered much higher prices. This was the first summer that the Fort was in the hands of the Americans, being given to them in the 1796 Jay Treaty. This was the first time the British had to deal with this new economic threat and McGill was not impressed that the farmers were choosing money over loyalty. In one conversation from May of 1797, McGill wrote to Green: “The Farmers in these settlements have been exceedingly backward in bringing forward their produce.”[8] Similar issues were taking place in the Western districts as Fort Detroit and Fort Mackinac went to the Americans in the same Treaty. There are a few reasons that these farmers give for why they are selling to Americans before their own countrymen. One argument was that there were not enough small boats available to take the wheat to mills, and then to the merchants like Robert Hamilton in Queenston or Richard Cartwright in Kingston. They also argued that the existing mills were in a poor state of repair and many of them were not running at that time due to lack of water. One final big argument was that the rumours of impending war between the French and the United States in the late 1790s would induce people to move from the States to Upper Canada, meaning extra demand and consequently they could rise the price of their wheat, peas and corn.

Despite the continual support of the British government, the Niagara farmers seemed to leave for greener pastures the moment they saw the opportunity. In the short run, the choice to supply American garrisons instead of British ones makes some sense; poor roads made it difficult for farmers to store, process, and transport their produce, while the Americans organized their own system of collection of produce and paid the farmers well. This cut McGill out of the picture, as well as merchants like Robert Hamilton who could not hope to compete with American prices for Niagara’s local produce. Alan Taylor believes that [Governor] “Simcoe had been only half successful in recruiting Upper Canada’s settlers. He had enticed families who did not particularly care for the republic, but he had not attracted people who cared deeply for the empire.” [9] The minimal taxation and easy access to land that these settlers enjoyed was expected to be met with a level of subordination to their provincial government, but this clearly was not the case in 1797. However, since McGill only refers to the “farmers” in Niagara as a whole, it is still possible that some of the early farmers were the ones selling to McGill, and it was only the later loyalist farmers who had arrived after 1792 that were selling to the Americans. A further investigation of primary sources on the local level will be necessary for understanding more specifically these divided loyalties.

3. A final important theme in these primary sources is that they support McCalla’s arguments about regional production being vital to economic development of Canada as a whole. I still need more data in order to fully prove this point, but the stats for 1796-1799 as shown in these letters already reveal that production for initial consumption was crucial in Niagara. This argument is made in opposition to the Innisian staples thesis that states the importance of the eastward movement of staple exports like furs, timber and flour. In February of 1798, McGill complained that there would not be enough flour to supply the garrisons by July 1 that summer because “The Quantity of Wheat in the settlement I am informed is considerable, and were it not for the stills, which consumes much of this article, there is great reason to believe, that the supplies required for the use of Government might be obtained upon more reasonable terms.” [10] Whisky as a popular commodity was driving up the price of flour in the region, showing the importance of settlers, as McCalla says, “investing their lives and funds in smaller projects and specific places.” [11] Similarly, in March of 1798 McGill estimated how much flour he had left over to give to the Upper Canadian garrisons, after “reserving what may be sufficient for the consumption of the Inhabitants in the settlements at, above, and below Kingston.” What exactly was the amount of produce being reserved here in McGill’s mind? Whatever the percentage of wheat being consumed in Niagara and Upper Canada, Niagara’s export to markets in Lower Canada in these years do not seem to be as big of a priority as was supplying the more local garrisons in Upper Canada (and New York). This then contradicts Innis’ idea that staple exports to larger markets out of the interior were the main facilitators of economic development. The decision of local farmers to sell to the American forts in 1797 also shows a powerful human agency, separate from the control of the British administration.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Stay tuned for more primary source analyses. Thanks for reading!

Sources:
[1] Douglas McCalla, “The Ontario Economy in the Long Run,” Ontario History 90 no. 2 (1998), 97.
[2] Bruce Wilson, The Enterprises of Robert Hamilton: a study of wealth and influence in early Upper Canada, 1776-1812, (Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1983), 76-78.
[3] Compiled by E. A. Cruikshank, and Andrew F. Hunter, The Correspondence of the Honourable Peter Russell : With Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada during the Official Term of Lieut.-Governor J. G. Simcoe, While on Leave of Absence, Volume Two, (The Ontario Historical Society, 1932), 127.
[4] Ibid., 126.
[5] Ibid., 127.
[6] Alan Taylor, “The Late Loyalists: Northern Reflections of the Early American Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic 27, no. 1 (Spring, 2007), 19.
[7] Ibid., 2.
[8] Compiled by E. A. Cruikshank, and Andrew F. Hunter, The Correspondence of the Honourable Peter Russell : With Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada during the Official Term of Lieut.-Governor J. G. Simcoe, While on Leave of Absence, Volume One, (The Ontario Historical Society, 1932), 175.
[9] Taylor, “The Late Loyalists: Northern Reflections of the Early American Republic,” 29.
[10] Cruikshank and Hunter, The Correspondence of the Honourable Peter Russell Volume Two, 100.
[11] McCalla, “The Ontario Economy in the Long Run,” 2.