Fredericton is the capital of the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The city is situated in the west-central portion of the province and is one of the main urban centres in New Brunswick. The Saint John River flows west to east as it bisects the city and provides the dominant natural feature for the municipality. In the 2011 census, the city's population was 56,224, making it the third largest city in the province after Saint John and Moncton.
An important cultural, artistic, and educational centre for the province, Fredericton is home to two universities, the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design, and cultural institutions such as the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the York Sunbury Museum, and The Playhouse—a performing arts venue. The city hosts the annual Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, attracting regional and international jazz, blues, rock, and world artists. The Nashwaak Music Fest is held annually 20 km North of the city at Nashwaak Bridge. Country, Country Rock, Folk and Roots.
As a provincial capital, its economy is inextricably tied to the fortunes of the public sector; however, the city also contains a growing IT and commercial sector. The city has the highest percentage of residents with a post-secondary education in the province and one of the highest per capita incomes.
Fredericton has been evaluated favourably in recent years for its competitive quality of life and potential for business development. In 2013, Foreign Direct Investment magazine reviewed Fredericton's economic potential and quality of life, and named it first amongst North America's Top 10 Micro Cities, improving from its second-place rank in 2011. Amongst 200 Canadian communities, Fredericton placed seventh in MoneySense magazine's Best Places to Live in 2012, but dropped to 78th in 2013.
The area of the present-day City of Fredericton was first used for seasonal farming by the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet peoples. Corn was the primary crop grown in the area. Interestingly, the site of Fredericton served as a sort of capital for Aboriginals in the area. Aucpaque, the "principal village" of the Aboriginals in the area, was located a few kilometres upriver from the site of present-day Fredericton.
The first European contact was by the French in the late 17th century, who granted the land to Joseph Robineau de Villebon. During King William's War, the Governor of Acadia Villebon built Fort Nashwaak on the north side of the St John River, at the mouth of the Nashwaak River. For most of the war, Fort Nashwaak served as the capital of the French colony of Acadia and orchestrated numerous military raids on English settlers on the New England/ Acadia border.
Siege of Fort Nashwaak (1696)
Acadian Governor Villebon, and the location of the Capital of Acadia at Fort Nashwaak,(originally called Fort St. Joseph) on the St. John River, became a source of torment for the settlers of New England. Within weeks of an attack launched from Fort Nashwaak on Pemaquid, Maine (present day Bristol, Maine), the New Englanders struck back. In 1696, an expedition under command of Major Benjamin Church (military officer) set out to destroy Fort Nashwaak (present day Fredericton; See Fort Nashwaak). Villebon had been alerted and prepared his defences. On October 18, the British troops arrived opposite the fort, landed three cannons, and assembled earthworks on the south bank of the Nashwaak River. There was a fierce exchange of fire for two days, with the advantage going to the better-sited Acadian guns. The New Englanders were defeated, with 8 soldiers killed and 17 wounded. The Acadians sustained losses of one killed and two wounded.
After Villebon's death in 1700 and a devastating flood, the fort was abandoned.
The Fredericton area was first permanently settled and named Pointe-Sainte-Anne (often anglicized to Ste. Anne's Point) in 1732 by Acadians fleeing Nova Scotia after the British took over the territory (1710). Their townsite was on the south side of the river, approximately a mile upriver from Fort Nashwaak.
Raid on Ste. Anne's Point (1759)
A 1762 settlement attempt by the British was unsuccessful due to the hostility of local Acadian and Aboriginal populations. These settlers ended up building a community downriver at what is today the town of Maugerville (pronounced "majorville"). However, three fur traders managed to permanently settle there in 1768.
In 1783, United Empire Loyalists settled in Ste. Anne's Point after the American Revolution, although many died during the harsh and long first winter in Fredericton. Those who perished during that winter were buried in what became the Loyalist cemetery, which is still found on the south bank of the Saint John River. When spring came, more Loyalists left the new settlement to take up land grants in other areas of the countryside.
When New Brunswick became a separate colony from Nova Scotia in 1784, Ste. Anne's Point became the provincial capital, winning out over Parrtown (present-day Saint John) due to its central inland location meaning it was less prone to American attack from the sea. A street plan was laid out to the west of the original townsite, King's College (now the University of New Brunswick) was founded, and the locale was renamed "Frederick's Town", in honour of the second son of King George III of the United Kingdom, Prince Frederick Augustus, Duke of York. The name was shortened to Fredericton shortly after the city became the official provincial capital of New Brunswick on April 25, 1785. Thus, in a period of less than three years, the area of Fredericton went from being a sparsely populated region to being the capital of the new colony of New Brunswick.
The same attributes that made Fredericton the capital city also made it an ideal spot for a military installation. Many of the original military buildings downtown still stand, and are now tourist attractions.
A building was constructed to house the provincial legislative assembly in 1788, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1880. Two years later, the present Legislature Building was constructed.
The first major expansion of the city occurred on July 1, 1945 when it amalgamated with the town of Devon. Today the city of Fredericton comprises Fredericton proper, and the boroughs of Silverwood, Nashwaaksis, Barker's Point and Marysville, which were incorporated into the city in 1973.
One of the communities annexed to Fredericton in 1973, Marysville, has a unique and distinctive history of its own. Marysville is located on the Nashwaak River - a tributary of the Saint John River - just north of pre-1973 Fredericton. The community is distinguished by its 19th-century mill and historic buildings, which include nineteenth century company houses and buildings patterned after those of British industrial towns.
Marysville can be described as a prime example of a nineteenth-century mill town. In the 1830s, a saw mill was built on the site of Marysville by two local entrepreneurs. However, the saw mill frequently changed ownership and never showed a profit. It was Alexander Gibson (popularly referred to as "Boss Gibson") who turned this situation around and built a prosperous industrial town. In 1883, under the direction of Gibson, construction began of a cotton mill which was state of the art for its time. "Boss" Gibson named the company town that grew up around the mill Marysville in honour of his wife.
In 1908, having faced financial problems, Gibson sold the mill to a Montreal-based company which, in turn, sold it to Canadian Cottons Ltd. After World War II, foreign competition devastated the mill's business and it ceased operations in 1954. There were numerous attempts to re-open the mill however, in 1980, it closed its doors permanently.
The mill was renovated and re-opened in 1985 as provincial government offices. The mill still remains the dominant feature in the Marysville skyline.
Central to Marysville is Alexander Gibson Memorial School, or AGMS. It was constructed in 1926. Additions to the school occurred in 1957 and in 1977 following a fire. It holds over 300 children from kindergarten to grade 5.