New Brunswick (; , Quebec French pronunciation: ) is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is constitutionally bilingual (English–French). It was created as a result of the partitioning of the British Colony of Nova Scotia in 1784. Fredericton is the capital and Saint John is the most populous city. In the 2011 nationwide census, Statistics Canada estimated the provincial population to have been 751,171. The majority of the population is English-speaking, but there is also a large Francophone minority (33%), chiefly of Acadian origin.
The original First Nations inhabitants of New Brunswick were members of three distinct tribes. The largest tribe was the Mi'kmaq, and they occupied the eastern and coastal areas of the province. They were responsible for the Augustine Mound, a burial ground built about 800 B.C. near Metepnákiaq (Red Bank First Nation). The western portion of the province was the traditional home of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) people. The smaller Passamaquoddy tribe occupied lands in the southwest of the province.
French colonial era
Although it is possible that Vikings may have reached as far south as New Brunswick, the first known European exploration of New Brunswick was that of French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534, who discovered and named the Bay of Chaleur. The next French contact was in 1604, when a party led by Pierre du Gua de Monts and Samuel de Champlain set up camp for the winter on St. Croix Island, between New Brunswick and Maine. The colony relocated the following year across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal, Nova Scotia. Over the next 150 years, a number of other French settlements and seigneuries were founded in the area occupied by present-day New Brunswick, including along the Saint John River, the upper Bay of Fundy region, in the Tantramar Marshes at Beaubassin, and finally at St. Pierre (site of present day Bathurst). The whole maritime region (as well as parts of Maine) was at that time claimed by France and was designated as the colony of Acadia.
One of the provisions of the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 was the surrender of peninsular Nova Scotia to the British. The bulk of the Acadian population thus found themselves residing in the new British colony of Nova Scotia. The remainder of Acadia (including the New Brunswick region) was only lightly populated and poorly defended. The Maliseet from their headquarters at Meductic on the Saint John River, participated in numerous raids and battles against New England during Father Rale's War and King William's War.
During Father Le Loutre's War, in 1750, in order to protect their territorial interests in what remained of Acadia, France built three forts (Fort Beauséjour, Fort Menagoueche and Fort Gaspareaux) along the frontier with Nova Scotia. (A major French fortification (Fortress of Louisbourg) was also built on Île Royale (now Cape Breton Island) after Queen Anne's War, but the function of this fort was mostly to defend the approaches to the colony of Canada, not Acadia.)
During the French and Indian War (1754–63), the British completed their conquest of Acadia and extended their control to include all of New Brunswick. Fort Beauséjour (near Sackville), Fort Menagoueche and Fort Gaspareaux were captured by a British force commanded by Lt. Col. Robert Monckton in 1755. Inside Fort Beauséjour, the British forces found not only French regular troops, but also Acadian irregulars. Governor Charles Lawrence of Nova Scotia used the discovery of Acadian civilians helping in the defence of the fort as a pretext to order the expulsion of the Acadian population from Nova Scotia. The Acadians of the recently captured Beaubassin and Petitcodiac regions were included in the expulsion order. Some of the Acadians in the Petitcodiac and Memramcook region escaped, and under the leadership of Joseph Broussard continued to conduct guerrilla action against the British forces for a couple of years. Other actions in the war included British expeditions up the Saint John River in the St. John River Campaign. Fort Anne (Fredericton) fell during the 1759 campaign, and following this, all of present-day New Brunswick came under British control.
British colonial era
After the Seven Years' War, most of present day New Brunswick (and parts of Maine) were absorbed into the colony of Nova Scotia and designated as Sunbury County. New Brunswick's relatively isolated location on the Bay of Fundy, away from the Atlantic coastline proper tended to discourage settlement during the postwar period. There were exceptions however, such as the coming of New England Planters to the Sackville region and the arrival of Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in Moncton in 1766. In both these cases, many of the new settlers took up land that had originally belonged to displaced Acadians before the deportation.
There were several actions on New Brunswick soil during the American Revolutionary War: the Maugerville Rebellion (1776), the Battle of Fort Cumberland (1776), the Siege of Saint John (1777) and the Battle at Miramichi (1779). The Battle of Fort Cumberland was the largest and most significant of these conflicts. Following the war, significant population growth finally came to the area, when 14,000 refugee Loyalists, having lost the war, came from the newly created United States, arriving on the Saint John River in 1783. Influential Loyalists such as Harvard-educated Edward Winslow saw themselves as the natural leaders of their community and that they should be recognized for their rank and that their loyalty deserved special compensation. However they were not appreciated by the pre-loyalist population in Nova Scotia. As Colonel Thomas Dundas wrote from Saint John, "They [the loyalists] have experienced every possible injury from the old inhabitants of Nova Scotia." Therefore 55 prominent merchants and professionals petitioned for grants each. Winslow pressed for the creation of a "Loyalist colony" – an asylum that could become "the envy of the American states".
Nova Scotia was therefore partitioned. In 1784, Britain split the colony of Nova Scotia into three separate colonies: New Brunswick, Cape Breton Island, and present-day peninsular Nova Scotia, in addition to the adjacent colonies of St. John's Island (renamed Prince Edward Island in 1798) and Newfoundland. The Colony of New Brunswick was created on August 16, 1784; Sir Thomas Carleton was appointed as Lieutenant-Governor in 1784, and in 1785 a new assembly was established with the first elections. The new colony was almost called New Ireland after a failed attempt to establish a colony of that name in Maine during the war.
Even though the bulk of the Loyalist population was located in Parrtown (Saint John), the decision was made by the colonial authorities to place the new colonial capital at St. Anne's Point (Fredericton), about 150 km up the Saint John River as it was felt that by placing the capital inland, it would be less vulnerable to American attack. The University of New Brunswick was founded at Fredericton at the same time (1785), making it the oldest English-language university in Canada and the first public university in North America.
Initial Loyalist population growth in the new colony extended along the Fundy coastline from Saint Andrews to Saint Martins and up the Kennebecasis and lower Saint John River valleys.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, some of the deported Acadians from Nova Scotia found their way back to "Acadie," where they settled mostly along the eastern and northern shores of the new colony of New Brunswick. Here, they lived in relative (and in many ways, self-imposed) isolation.
Additional immigration to New Brunswick in the early part of the 19th century was from Scotland; western England; and Waterford, Ireland, often after first having come through (or having lived in) Newfoundland. A large influx of settlers arrived in New Brunswick after 1845 from Ireland as a result of the Potato Famine; many of these people settled in Saint John or Chatham. Both Saint John and the Miramichi region remain largely Irish today.
The northwestern border between Maine and New Brunswick had not been clearly defined by the Treaty of Paris (1783) that had ended the American Revolution. By the late 1830s, population growth and competing lumber interests in the upper Saint John River valley created the need for a definite boundary in the area. During the winter of 1838–39, the situation quickly deteriorated, with both Maine and New Brunswick calling out their respective militias. The "Aroostook War" was bloodless (but politically very tense), and the boundary was subsequently settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.
Throughout the mid 19th century, shipbuilding on the Bay of Fundy shore and also on the Petitcodiac River and rivers on the east coast became a dominant industry in New Brunswick. The Marco Polo, the fastest clipper ship ever built, was launched from Saint John in 1851. Resource-based industries such as logging and farming were also important components of the New Brunswick economy during this time and railways were constructed throughout the province to serve them and link the rural communities.
New Brunswick, one of the four original provinces of Canada, entered the Canadian Confederation on July 1, 1867. The Charlottetown Conference of 1864, which ultimately led to the confederation movement, originally had been intended to discuss only a Maritime Union, but concerns over the American Civil War as well as Fenian activity along the border led to an interest in expanding the scope of the proposed union. This interest in an expanded union arose from the Province of Canada (formerly Upper and Lower Canada, later Ontario and Quebec), and a request was made by the Canadian political leaders to the organizers of the Maritime conference to have the meeting agenda altered.
Although the Maritime leaders were swayed by the arguments of the Canadians, many ordinary residents of the Maritimes wanted no part of this larger confederation for fear that their interests and concerns would be ignored in a wider national union. Many politicians who supported confederation, such as Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley (New Brunswick's best-known Father of Confederation), found themselves without a seat after the next election; nevertheless, backers of the wider confederation eventually prevailed.
Following confederation, the fears of the anti-confederates were proven correct as new national policies and trade barriers were soon adopted by the central government, thus disrupting the historic trading relationship between the Maritime Provinces and New England. The situation in New Brunswick was exacerbated by both the Great Fire of 1877 in Saint John and the decline of the wooden shipbuilding industry; skilled workers were thus forced to move to other parts of Canada or to the United States to seek employment.
As the 20th century dawned, however, the province's economy again began to expand. Manufacturing gained strength with the construction of textile mills; and in the crucial forestry sector, the sawmills that had dotted inland sections of the province gave way to larger pulp and paper mills. The railway industry, meanwhile, provided for growth and prosperity in the Moncton region. Nevertheless, unemployment remained high throughout the province, and the Great Depression brought another setback. Two influential families, the Irvings and the McCains, emerged from the Depression to begin to modernise and vertically integrate the provincial economy—especially in the vital forestry, food processing, and energy sectors.
The Acadians in northern New Brunswick had long been geographically and linguistically isolated from the more numerous English speakers, who lived in the south of the province. Government services were often not available in French, and the infrastructure in predominantly Francophone areas was noticeably less developed than in the rest of the province; this changed with the election of Premier Louis Robichaud in 1960. He embarked on the ambitious Equal Opportunity Plan, in which education, rural road maintenance, and health care fell under the sole jurisdiction of a provincial government that insisted on equal coverage throughout the province. County councils were abolished, and the rural areas came under direct provincial jurisdiction. The 1969 Official Languages Act made French an official language.