The two groups arrived in Winslow Township in the middle of the nineteenth century, when modern state bureaucracy was just developing in Lower Canada (Quebec). Little was therefore able to examine a wealth of material from the departments responsible for crown lands, public works, and education as well as comprehensive data from the registry offices and manuscript census reports. This state-generated material, as well as a rich collection of Catholic and Presbyterian church records and documents from Scotland, provides the basis for a detailed analysis of society, economy, and culture in one isolated pocket of colonization.
The settlements, economically based on lumber alone, were locked into poverty and dependency by Anglophone-monopoly control of the spruce forests. J.I. Little examines the ultimate failure of the British and Quebec settlement projects and argues that the stranglehold of the monopolies was broken only by the belated extension of the rail network into the Upper St Francis district.
Using a variety of documentary sources, including hundreds of petitions, letters, and reports to the government, Little traces the complex relationship between community life and government regulation. He reveals that at the same time development of responsible government was leading to increasingly centralized authority at the provincial level, a persistent sense of localism was forcing the state to decentralize its new institutions at the community level. The local population of this largely American-settled corner of Quebec, Little shows, clearly exerted an important influence on the evolution of the education, legal, social welfare, and municipal systems.