Pioneering settlers had the task of building a community and society. The arrival of emigrants often led to the eviction of the established native population, but there were also cases of cultural contact and interaction.
In the early days, poor communications and the absence of adequate roads, schools and medical facilities were a real problem, especially in remote areas. Scottish emigrants had to overcome other difficulties – for example, the scarcity of currency, and local economic fluctuations.
Health and education
Weather conditions such as the combination of heat and humidity or extreme cold made them more vulnerable to disease. There were serious cholera epidemics, for example, in Canada and the USA in the 1830s.
However, many emigrants reported an improvement in their overall health.
The Scots were generally literate migrants who took pride in the education system back home. Many emigrant teachers contributed to the development of education in the New World.
Religious needs were an acute concern for a number of early settlers. Emigrants arrived with particular denominational allegiances, and ministers were needed to guard against factional domination.
Missionary activity was also undertaken as a means to 'civilise' the native population, and to ensure religious observance among emigrants. The Presbyterian Church in Canada, for instance, was still recruiting Scottish missionaries in the 1920s.
In Argentina, St Andrew's Church of Buenos Aires sent a 'camp minister' to remote areas of Patagonia to attend the spiritual needs of the scattered Scottish settlers.
Gaelic-speaking ministers were needed by Catholic and Presbyterian communities in Nova Scotia and Australia.
Emigrants' remarks about their spiritual preoccupations also reveal the role of religion in cementing communities and defining identities.
Recreation and leisure
When emigrants did get time off, they could explore the recreational facilities of the new country.
New leisure activities developed, and opportunities arose for social interaction, hobbies and sport.
The cities offered a wide choice of opportunities, including musical events and theatre. In rural and remote areas emigrants often relied on other means of social interaction, such as reunions with family and friends.
Scottish and local customs
Scots took with them their own music and pastimes, but they also had the chance to learn the local customs and participate in new leisure activities associated with seasonal events – at Christmas and New Year, for example.
The development of railways and other means of communication allowed emigrants to explore their new surroundings and even venture further away into neighbouring countries.
Gradually, the recreation and leisure opportunities offered by the countries of settlement played a part in marketing them to the traveller and tourist.