Prior to contact, our Wolastoq ancestors established an economic system based on bartering activities. The primary economic activities were dependent on the relationship between Wolastoq people and the land they occupied since creation. The relationship was based on the values of respect, harmony, balance, and interdependence. Adherence to these principles ensured that future generations were able to benefit from the resources provided by Mother Earth and thereby perpetuating an economic system that maintained a harmonious relationship with all of creation and simultaneously meet the basic needs of Wolastoq society.

Land was communally owned by all Wolastoq people and each member was responsible for protecting the land as well as the resources within Wolastoq territory. Clans were assigned hunting territories within Wolastoq nation and they were given the responsibility of stewardship over their clan territory. It was expected that each generation of clan members would ensure a continuous supply of resources for succeeding generations. Thus, the pursuit of economic activities within Wolastoq land did not deplete the valuable resources for future generations but actuall Read More
Prior to contact, our Wolastoq ancestors established an economic system based on bartering activities. The primary economic activities were dependent on the relationship between Wolastoq people and the land they occupied since creation. The relationship was based on the values of respect, harmony, balance, and interdependence. Adherence to these principles ensured that future generations were able to benefit from the resources provided by Mother Earth and thereby perpetuating an economic system that maintained a harmonious relationship with all of creation and simultaneously meet the basic needs of Wolastoq society.

Land was communally owned by all Wolastoq people and each member was responsible for protecting the land as well as the resources within Wolastoq territory. Clans were assigned hunting territories within Wolastoq nation and they were given the responsibility of stewardship over their clan territory. It was expected that each generation of clan members would ensure a continuous supply of resources for succeeding generations. Thus, the pursuit of economic activities within Wolastoq land did not deplete the valuable resources for future generations but actually nourished and enhanced the availability of resources.

Following contact, the economic system was eventually altered by European settlers resulting in drastic changes in the livelihood of our ancestors. The new settler society established an economic system based on the exploitation of resources without regard for future generations. The basic premise of the new economic system was based on control of the environment and accumulation of material wealth. Mother Earth was considered as an object to be controlled, exploited, and dominated. The primary goal of the new and established settler corporations was the pursuit of profits without due regard for the negative impacts of exploitation, uncontrolled development, and mismanagement of natural resources.

Subsequently, Wolastoq traditional economic system was replaced by the European economic system. Wolastoq people were placed on “reservations” thereby placing severe limitations on the pursuit of traditional economic activities and ultimately destroying the economic system of Wolastoq ancestors.
Opolahsomuwehs 07

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

The New Brunswick Museum’s collections of Aboriginal craft document one small aspect of the ingenuity and adaptive capabilities of Wolastoqiyik. Expert woodworkers, canoe builders, toolmakers and artisans, they produced the durable, practical and reliable products needed to maintain their active lifestyle. Skilled technologists, they also produced traps, toboggans, snowshoes, paddles, axes, knives, nets, baskets, spears, bows, musical instruments, all manner of clothing and more. By the late 19th century, European settlement and changing technologies had disrupted the traditional way of life for the Aboriginal population of New Brunswick. Game began to disappear and it became necessary for Wolastoqiyik to trade for food, or to seek employment on farms, in the lumber camps or as guides. Others turned to the production of baskets that could be sold or traded for a more dependable source of income. Evidence of this relationship can be found in written accounts as well as in artifacts such as trade silver brooches or the decoratively woven fancy baskets that have come to be associated with Aboriginal cultures. As New Brunswick navigated the bumpy road of "progress" at Read More
The New Brunswick Museum’s collections of Aboriginal craft document one small aspect of the ingenuity and adaptive capabilities of Wolastoqiyik. Expert woodworkers, canoe builders, toolmakers and artisans, they produced the durable, practical and reliable products needed to maintain their active lifestyle. Skilled technologists, they also produced traps, toboggans, snowshoes, paddles, axes, knives, nets, baskets, spears, bows, musical instruments, all manner of clothing and more. By the late 19th century, European settlement and changing technologies had disrupted the traditional way of life for the Aboriginal population of New Brunswick. Game began to disappear and it became necessary for Wolastoqiyik to trade for food, or to seek employment on farms, in the lumber camps or as guides. Others turned to the production of baskets that could be sold or traded for a more dependable source of income. Evidence of this relationship can be found in written accounts as well as in artifacts such as trade silver brooches or the decoratively woven fancy baskets that have come to be associated with Aboriginal cultures. As New Brunswick navigated the bumpy road of "progress" at the turn of the twentieth century, Wolastoqiyik struggled for survival. For the most part, Wolastoqiyik were excluded from jobs in the industrial economy. One area where they were able to find gainful employment, however, was as nature guides for the tourists who came in search of adventure, hunting and fishing in New Brunswick's hinterland.

© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Going to Market

painting: Going to Market, c. 1845

John Thomas Stanton, c. 1815-1866
Gift of Emma Disbrow, 1908

New Brunswick, CANADA
5179.2
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the summer economy

They used to, they used to travel back and forth up and down river. Indian Point where there’s like this old reserve, where they come and stop maybe spend a summer, like a camping ground. Just like they go from here to Public Landing, Browns Flat, that’s what they call it, they stop there, oh God, to make baskets, and all kinds of bow and arrows and everything for the white people, chairs…

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


large utiliarian basket

basket, c. 1890, First Nations; Wolastoqiyik

Unknown, photographed by W. Mark Polchies
Purchase, 1978

New Brunswick, CANADA
1978.136
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Making Baskets

painting: Making Baskets, c. 1845

John Thomas Stanton, c. 1815-1866
Gift of Emma Disbrow, 1908

New Brunswick, CANADA
5179.1
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses basket prices

Every Saturday morning, Tom Brooks, Frank [indecipherable], Ben Brooks used to go down there sell clothes baskets, two dollars and fifty cents a piece. We’d work hard all week, apple baskets, potato baskets, clothesbaskets and fishing baskets. Fishing basket was ninety cents, apple basket was seventy five cents and fifty cents. If it had a swivel handle on it that was worth a dollar. Potato baskets, small ones and big ones had to be double bottomed before you could get a dollar for them, a dollar and ten. Axe handles four dollars and fifty cents a dozen.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Beadwork Cap

cap, c. 1851, First Nations; Wolastoqiyik

Marie Francis
Gift of Susan Rankine MacKay, 1936

New Brunswick, CANADA
24555
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Decorative fan handle

fan handle, 1850-1875, First Nations; Wolastoqiyik

Unknown
Gift of Alice Delacour Jack, Frances Allen Jack, Emma Carleton Kenah Jack and Helen Ramsay Jack, 1911

New Brunswick, CANADA
5404.9
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Fur stretcher model

fur stretcher model, 1930-1940, Woodstock First Nation

Major Edwin Tappan Adney, 1868-1950
Gift of Major Edwin Tappan Adney, 1944

New Brunswick, CANADA
1944.397
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the fur business

When I was young fellar and going to school I come home one evening after supper, walked in there and on the floor of my father’s house there’s seventy-eight raccoon carcasses. In the basement he had 122 beaver carcasses, seventeen red foxes. He’s all alone and I tell him I want to learn to do this. He looked at me and said, “You wanna learn?” I said, “Yes, I wanna learn so I can help you.” Okay, so once I mastered it I become the best, number one and all they did was help me out. Money flowed just like water. I’ve been in the fur business ever since I was 16, that’s fifty years, fifty years. I become the best in New Brunswick. I built a name for myself and a legend. People know me from everywheres and I’ve met a lot of people.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Silver crown

crown, 1800-1830

Unknown
Webster Museum Foundation purchase, 1961

New Brunswick, CANADA
1979.130.1
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Silver shell

shell, before 1851

Unknown
Webster Museum Foundation purchase, 1961

New Brunswick, CANADA
1979.130.3
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses trading

My grandparents worked all the week, we had to go out and pound ash for them, we had to go look for it. And then the old people, old woman, they’d get together and then they’d strip them, strip the ash and shave it. They’d make small baskets, they’d make fancy baskets, women, and the men make big baskets, pack baskets, fishing baskets, potato baskets, clothes baskets, they’re for the farmers. When they’d get done, they’d worked all week, and then they’ll take them and then they put them on a boat, and they paddle them up Jemseg, way up inside Grand Lake, all in the Grand Lake, along the river every farmhouse they’d see or store they’d stop. They don’t sell baskets, everything was for trade. Now this was in the early Thirties, the year of the Depression, when everything was the hardest, even the money and gasoline and everything else, because the Depression was the hardest thing, people were hungry. I used to go with them and they’d trade goods and if they can spare a little gas or fuel for the motor that was okay, that’d give a couple gallons, or potatoes and meat, flour, because farmers had lots of that stuff and they wanted baskets, butter, milk, pancake flour. So they’d trade. Now and then you know the stores would give you maybe a few change for money and all that junk, clothing, everything else. It was all trade, hardly any money exchanged, that’s how they survived and that’s how everybody got along.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Ronald Paul discusses the making and selling of butter trays

What I, what I used to hate, hah!, we’d go out in the afternoons, in the summer time you want to go swimming, and they’d say, “You can go do that after supper, right now you go out and chop down a poplar tree, make sure its clear.” We’d go out there and look for a poplar tree ten/twelve inches and clear about eight feet. We’d chop that down – there were no chainsaws, homemade saws - we’d have to chop it all down, and split it. Split the top and right down the middle, and then we had to hew it out. Get it all hewed out and then put off to one side, eight or nine of them blocks and we’d take them home. Hey my works done! And butter trays, them butter trays, they weren’t worth very much in them days, five dollars is five dollars. Today them same butter trays I’m talking about, you can go out and pay seventy five to eighty dollars for it now.

Courtesy of Ronald Paul

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2007, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Currency of Change Learning Object is designed for students and educators to meet the following objectives:

  • analyse the political challenges and opportunities that may affect Canada’s future: examine issues related to Aboriginal autonomy and self-government 
  • analyse the social and cultural challenges and opportunities that may affect Canada’s future: predict the possible impact on the future of Canadian society by analyzing socio-economic trends in such areas as the workplace, standards of living, family, and social programs, predict challenges and opportunities that ethnic and cultural groups may face as Canada evolves 
  • analyse how economic decisions are made by individuals, organizations, and governments, based on scarcity and opportunity cost 
  • assess the role played by economic institutions and examine their impact on individuals and on private and public organizations 
  • evaluate the differences among traditional, command, and market economic systems and explain the development of “mixed” economies 
  • evaluate factors that influence the distribution of wealth locally, nationally, and internationally 
  • apply knowledge of economic concepts in developing a response to current economic issues such as disparity and sustainability
  • examine others’ ideas and synthesize what is helpful to clarify and expand on their own understanding 
  • ask discerning questions to acquire, interpret, analyze, and evaluate ideas and information 
  • articulate, advocate, and justify positions on issues or text in a convincing manner, showing an understanding of a range of viewpoints 
  • listen critically to analyze and evaluate concepts, ideas, and information 
  • adapt language and delivery for a variety of audiences and purposes in informal and formal contexts, some of which are characterized by complexity of purpose, procedure, and subject matter 
  • respond to a wide range of complex questions and directions

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