Canadian Labour History

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Submitted By blaine
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Rusty Bitterman's article "Farm Households and Wage Labour in the Northeastern Maritimes in the Early 19th Century" discusses the need for capitalist production to assist in the independent commodity production in this era. In this article, Bitterman focuses on the evolution of wage labour and the working class in regards to the farming families, arguing that wage labour was a necessity in sustaining the farming home.

Bitterman's article tries to emphasize how difficult it was for farmers to establish their self-contained agricultural production. There were three distinct types of farming households which consisted of "those wth the capital (or credit) to hire others to speed construction and land clearing, those with the means to support themselves during the start-up period of farming, and, lastly those who found it necessary to engage in off-farm work to sustain themselves while farm-making.”(Bittermann, pg.5) Bittermann chose to focus on the latter group. The cost of all the necessities needed forced thousands to partake in wage labour in order to support and expand their farming operations. Many times the waged labour was not only done by men, but also by the women and children. (Bittermann,pg.19) These farmers were drawn to work for other larger, more prosperous farms instead of other trades such as shipbuilding or the timber trade, due to these trades "permitting less flexibility" in their schedules and leaving them unable to focus on their own farms. (Bittermann,pg.18)

The article brings to our attention that due to the amount of funding necessary to acquire the land, time needed to prepare it for planting and the time that the farmers had to wait for the fields to yield crops on a larger scale some farm households remained dependant upon wage labour to meet the basic necessities of life. Self-sufficiency was dependant upon the immigrants…...

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