Bruce McCowan is to be congratulated on his perseverance in the pursuit of links between Scotland and Canada... The whole exercise is an impressive local study of how an estate lost its original direction and was very slow to catch up with the market economy.
The focus of this carefully researched historical study is a small parish in Lanarkshire in the Scottish Lowlands in the years immediately after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It is a very interesting chronicle of the lives of a small group of families as they attempt to adjust to the onset of a market driven agricultural and industrial economy. There are close parallels with the present, particularly with the need to adapt to pervasive and disruptive change in the economic and social environment.
The ever debatable viewpoints between capitalistic and socialistic ideas such as the agricultural co-operative system and an early form of trades organization are well demonstrated in this document. It also illustrates the far reaching impact of the agricultural revolution, economies of scale, new industries and commercialization on the socio / economic environment of that part of Scotland.
Today, Canadians are struggling to adjust to a global recession, technological change, declining manufacturing, globalization of product and markets, as well as restructuring due to Free Trade Agreements. This book, Catching Up With the Market Economy, clearly reminds us that the painful process of struggling to adjust to changing economic conditions is nothing new. It is human and understandable to resist change, but nothing is more inevitable. If we cannot manage change, we must at least cope with it. This short book illustrates how they coped with changing economic conditions in Scotland on the Stockbriggs Estate between 1806 and 1831.
The historical parallels of the Stockbriggs Estate in the Scotland of the early 1800s and Metropolitan Toronto in the later 1900s is interesting comparative history. The economic progress and human costs provide for significant consideration by all concerned citizens.
Catching Up With the Market Economy written by Bruce McCowan is an interesting account of the economic history of Scotland between 1806 and 1831 at the beginning of the industrial revolution when small mills and cottage industries were condensed into the large concentrations in the industrialized cities. We often hear that famous saying "history repeats itself over and over again" and we now see much the same thing happening as we move into an international cross border "Market Economy".
I found Catching Up With the Market Economy to be, from my perspective, most unique. As you read, what you soon come to realize is this book could be moved to any location and time frame as you assess market economy. Let me deal with three specifics from the 1800's which are relevant today: the urbanization of the farmer; their failure to broaden their base and try to reach other available markets; the amount of litigation that took place. In conclusion, what the book tells us is that the world is becoming smaller. We must remain competitive and expand our market place.
Stockbriggs Estate is extremely well researched and documented and will provide an excellent and much needed source of reference for local historians. We found the details of working farm conditions for the period especially fascinating.
This work deals with the changing economic conditions in Lowland Scotland in the early years of the 19th century. The agricultural career of James McCowan (the author's ancestor) has been skilfully placed in the context of the economic history of rural Lowland Scotland. This is of general interest to those interested in Scottish history; it is of particular interest to those who care about their Scottish heritage; and it is of special interest to those called McCowan in one or other of its many spellings and whether living in Scotland or thousands of miles away. As the author says: "Emigration was another response to the negative effects of the economic revolution in Britain". His account of what caused his ancestor to emigrate to Canada makes fascinating reading for all those whose ancestors were driven by economic necessity to leave Scotland in the 19th Century, but have never lost a strong sense of belonging to the country left behind.
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The Scarboro Heights Record V12 #4