I have been preoccupied in recent months trying to find out exactly when were the ‘good ol’ days’ in New Brunswick. When was the period in our history where our economy was booming, people were moving here in record numbers and people were optimistic about the future.
I put this question to a variety of friends, family and colleagues and got some interesting reponses ranging from ‘never’ and ‘not in my life time’ to the 1960s and one person even said ‘today’ (a Monctonian).
My curiosity piqued, I searched the Internet to find the historical population trends for New Brunswick. I was specifically looking for a decade in the province’s history where the population grew faster here than in Canada as a whole. This seems like a fairly good proxy for the ‘good ol’ days’.
So I looked back. The 1990s were not good – our population was stagnant while Canada grew strongly. The 1980s were a little better but still well below the national average. The 1970s were a little better still but still well below the national average. 1960s, 1950s, 1940s, 1930, 1920s – I kept going back – still no luck. 1910s, 1900s, 1890s, 1880s, 1870s, 1860s, 1850s – that’s it!. New Brunswick’s ‘good ol’ days’ where in the 1850s – pre-Confederation. The province’s population grew faster than the national average. According to the Census data from that time, New Brunswick added just under 100,000 people from 1852 to 1861.
Since that time, we have not out-performed Canada as a whole for population growth in one single decade timeframe. That’s 150 years, folks.
150 years – one could argue that this just might be a trend of some sort.
No wonder most people can’t remember a time when New Brunswick was booming. I would have had to ask my Great Great Grandfather that question to get the answer I was looking for.
I think a plan for growing the economy is a little overdue, wouldn’t you agree?
Do you think New Brunswick will boom in our generation?