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New Brunswick has a rich and colorful history which extends back even before its founding in 1784. The province was originally inhabited by the Mi'kmaq and Malecites long before it was discovered by French and English explorers.
In 1604 Samuel de Champlain and Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, spent a devastating winter on Dochets Island in the St Croix River before moving their colony across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal which is the present day Annapolis Royal. The St Croix River and its headwaters would eventually play a pivotal role in the history of Canada and its dispute with the United States (former British Colonies) over the International Boundary not settled until the Webster-Ashburton Treat of 1842.
The French however were first in establishing settlements in New Brunswick. They settled around the Bay of Fundy region as well as along the St John River which was a pivotal route between the French possessions in Quebec and Montreal and their possessions in Nova Scotia and especially Fortress Louisbourg in Cape Breton.
The Fisheries in the area were important to both countries and the area was fiercely contested during the 1600s and 1700s. Eventually the French were defeated by the English with the help of New Englanders who wanted a part of the fishery, trade and fertile lands in the area but not before the territory was passed back and forth between them in treaties that involved not only conflict here, but also in Europe.
In 1755 British and New England soldiers defeated the French at Fort Beausejour in present day New Brunswick followed by Fortress Louisbourg in Cape Breton in 1758. The expulsion of the Acadians by the British from Nova Scotia resulted in many fleeing to the St John River valley and the Chaleur regions of the present day New Brunswick to avoid deportation. Many of the deportees are the Cajuns of the southern United States.
In the meantime, settlers from Essex County, Massachusetts were taking up lands in the Maugerville area of the St John River as well as establishing a trading post at the mouth of the river in present day Saint John.
The outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, or as it was known in the colonies, The War of Independence, caused considerable concern to the residents in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as it divided them from their families in the south.
The eventual outcome of the American Revolution or to the victorious colonists, The War of Independence, resulted in the flow of the very first “Refugees” as those loyal to Britain moved north to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario. The influx of over 12,000 new inhabitants in the spring and fall of 1783 changed forever the makeup of the area and resulted in the creation of the Province of New Brunswick in 1784 from the former Nova Scotia.
The Coat of Arms for the Province of New Brunswick carries the motto “Spem Reduxit” or Hope was Restored” and for the new inhabitants known collectively as “The Loyalists” this must have been a hard time as they had lost most of their wealth and belongings and they had to start from scratch in a wilderness country.
The first incorporated city in Canada was Saint John and its sudden growth was due to the influx of these Loyalist Refugees many of whom spent the first winter in their new home in tents.
The “Loyalists” were later followed by Irish and Scottish Immigrants to the province in the early and mid-1800’s and today we have a diverse culture. In 2001 the census established ancestral ethnicity as 26.9% French, 23.0% English, 18.9% Irish and 17.7% Scottish.
Genealogical research In New Brunswick therefore requires patience, a broad knowledge of history and a realization that records were not created as early as some other jurisdictions due to the rather sudden population growth that took place with the influx of the “Loyalists” into a wilderness without the structural systems in place to keep records normally available in the places from which they came.
The NBGS Web Site
Take some time to check out what we have to offer. The web site is constantly being updated and new information will be added periodically so check back often.
One of the features we think our members will find valuable is the ability to add and edit information on the surnames they are researching. In the past we have limited the number of surnames members could submit so we could handle the workload which was associated with the maintenance of this information. We are pleased to announce you can now add as many surnames as you wish and you can edit or delete this information on your own and ensure it is effective immediately.
Hopefully you will find the information we have to offer useful in the pursuit of your family history. We will be including much more in the member’s only section of the website as an added value for their support.
We are eager to hear your feedback so if there is anything which should be added or improved, please send us your comments using the web contact link.