Annexation in the Maritimes? The Butler Mission to Charlottetown

“The agricultural produce of the fertile Island found a ready market in industrial New England between 1854 and 1865. Exports to the United States fell from £120,928 in 1865 to £21,633 in 1866, while imports only slipped slightly.16 The cheap food that fed immigrant workers in New England mill towns during the Civil War now came from other sources. Stagnation gripped the Island economy, in spite of minor illicit trading with American fishermen. While Canada had been able to open some alternate markets after the collapse of reciprocity,1 7 Prince Edward Island had virtually no place to turn. Canadian farmers produced many of the same staples as did the Island. Prohibitive transportation costs and uncertain communication with Canada’s population centres made the Dominion an unimportant market.”

“The only hope seemed to be a renewal of reciprocity with the United States. The Island slowly strangled; there was no outlet for its farm produce; its population was being drained by the attractions of New England. Islanders thought reciprocity would be a panacea for the colony. They hoped to achieve some form of reciprocal trade with the United States, either with or without the cooperation of Canada.”

Tallman, Ronald D. “Annexation in the Maritimes? The Butler Mission to Charlottetown” Dalhousie Review, Volume 53, Number 1, 1973