1967.4 | Grater
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
43 x 18 cm
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
New Brunswick counties predominantly populated by Acadians did not suffer the debilitating exodus that English-speaking rural counties experienced in the first decade of the 20th century. Restigouche, Gloucester, Northumberland, Madawaska and Victoria counties either maintained or increased their populations. This can be partially explained by the strong sense of nationalism pulsing through Acadian society. The Acadian Renaissance, as it was known, had been promoted by the Acadian elite over the previous two decades. Another reason why rural areas inhabited by Acadians did not experience population declines was because they championed agriculture as a livelihood that could unite Acadians in defence of their distinctiveness. Farmers were urged to specialize, and many began growing potatoes. Agricultural specialization helped ensure the survival of Acadian farms, but the romantic ideal of Acadian farm life was under pressure and in decline.
Many farmers were forced to choose between abandoning their land or mechanizing their farms. Growing land shortages also contributed to increased mechanization, as farmers sought ways to maximize production on ever-smaller plots. But mechanization resulted in a decrease in the demand for farm labourers. Some Acadians reacted by heading to New England in search of work. Others took up new occupations in the expanding forestry and fishing industries.
Homemade graters were built out of whatever materials were on hand. In this case, the wood portions are taken from a chair.
Potatoes were a staple of the Acadian diet, and were often stored in a root cellar to protect them from the intense cold of winter.
The harvesting of potatoes and other root vegetables usually took place in mid-October, after the grain harvest.
Women and children participated in the fall harvest of potatoes, when all hands were required in order to beat the fall rains and the approaching frosts.