It’s kind of funny how New Brunswickers keep showing up in the books I read. In the last six months I have read books about Churchill, Mellon, Carnegie and T. Roosevelt and they all reference New Brunswick or New Brunswickers. Andrew Mellon’s grandfather started in Saint John before moving to Pittsburgh. Of course everyone knows about Max and Churchill.
My current read is a book about Theodore Roosevelt and his passion for conservation/environmentalism. Early on in the book there is a long description of a hunting trip Roosevelt took in Montana in the 1880s. His guide was known to be among the toughest and respected men in the area. His name was Jim Ferris and he is described as a New Brunswickian and you can still hear “Acadian inflection” in his speech.
Our greatest export.
I remember a few years ago on the selection committee for the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame having a rousing debate about whether people born in NB but with careers elsewhere should be considered for induction. The specific person on the docket was Louis B. Meyer but there were (are) dozens – maybe more – potential candidates. That year, the MGM founder was nixed as a candidate although in subsequent years I see that a few ex NBers have been inducted.
The truth is that we should know about and catalogue ex New Brunswickers that found success in the wide world. It would accomplish at least two things. One, it would help politicians and policy makers appreciate what has been lost and why fostering an economic development environment where entrepreneurs can take off matters. The second point is equally valid. It would help us understand the importance of bringing in talented people and entrepreneurs from outside to help us and our efforts at economic renaissance.
Last week I facilitated a focus group with some researchers in the province. I was like a kid in a candy store with these guys. But I was disheartened to hear that two of the reasons why companies like to put on clinical trials here are: homogeneity of the population and stability of the population – i.e. we are all alike and there aren’t a whole lot of folks moviing in or out.