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Legislative Assembly Building, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick

History of Fredericton, New Brunswick
City of Fredericton, New Brunswick   Our City of Stately Elms owes its life to the mighty St. John River that flows through its heart. The river, with its wide, deep waters, was the transportation lifeline that brought people to its rich, fertile shores.
   About 300 years ago, long before our bend in the river was named Fredericton, it was a seasonal stop for Maliseet and Micmac Indians who hunted, fished, grew corn and squash along the Woolastook - their name for the St. John River.
   A few years later, as the French and English fought over ownership of the new world in America, the French eventually gained control of Nova Scotia, which then included the St. John River Valley. Between 1672 and 1700 the French King assigned land grants, and in 1692, Joseph Robineau de Villebon established a fort at the point where the Nashwaak River drains into the St. John. The handful of settlers who lived near the fort became prosperous fur traders. When Villebon died, his successor was sent to Port Royal in Nova Scotia to help rebuild the fort there. That same year spring floods were particularly destructive at Fort Nashwaak, so the people who had remained near it moved to Port Royal as well.
   The Fredericton area was not settled again until 1732 when a group of French Acadians, fleeing the British forces who had taken possession of Nova Scotia by the Treaty of Utrecht, made their way to the St. John River Valley. They settled in the area where Old Government House stands today, and called their community Ste. Anne's Point. A 1733 French census counted 83 souls in 15 families.
   The area came under English jurisdiction in 1758, when British Forces captured Louisburg. In order to quell all French resistance, the British swept through the St. John River valley, burning homes and expelling Acadians. When a group of English tried to settle at St. Anne's Point in 1762, they were stopped by the Indians, so the party moved back down river, and settled in Maugerville. In 1768, three English families who depended on trading for their livelihood finally were able to settle permanently at the Point.
   At the end of the American Revolution in 1783, about 34,000 Americans loyal to the British crown fled the Thirteen Colonies for Nova Scotia. More than 14,000 of them settled in present-day New Brunswick, and by October 8, 1783, some 2,000 Loyalists had ascended the St. John River Valley to Ste. Anne's Point. Only a few were able to improvise log shelters before the long, cold winter descended. Supplies were scarce, the snow was deep, and many of the settlers who tried to survive in tents did not.
   Their friends and families buried them at a place they called Salamanca. Today, a simple granite boulder embedded with a plaque marks that spot. It bears the inscription: "To commemorate the loyalty, courage, sacrifices and achievements of early settlers who established this City of Fredericton, a grateful posterity has erected this monument." You'll find it on The Green at the end of Waterloo Row.
   In 1983, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Loyalist landing in Fredericton, another monument was erected by the United Empire Loyalists Society in front of the Old Burial Ground on Brunswick Street. The Loyalists who survived that first winter and went on to help build the new City of Fredericton chose this site for a permanent cemetery, and many of them are buried here.
   The surviving Loyalists petitioned Governor Parr in Halifax to make the area north of the Bay of Fundy a separate province in the spring of 1784. He resisted the idea. But in the summer of that same year, the British Government decided to make the County of Sunbury, formerly of Nova Scotia, into a new province. The Loyalists' wish was granted, and New Brunswick was born.
   Changing of the Guard, Officers Square, Fredericton - Relève de la garde, Officers Square, FrederictonThomas Carleton, who had helped the Loyalists evacuate New York, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new province and arrived at Ste. Anne's Point in January 1785 to establish his offices. By this time the settlers had already drawn street plans for the town they planned to call Osnaburg. Carleton's plans were different. He saw the plains of Ste. Anne's Point, west of the original site, as better suited for a town. With the help of Dugald Campbell of the 54th Regiment he conducted a final survey, and on February 22, 1785, renamed the settlement "Fredericstown", in honour of Prince Frederick, second son of King George III.
   Because of its safe positioning on the St. John River- about 112km (70 miles) from where the river empties into the Bay of Fundy - Governor Carleton chose Fredericton as provincial capital on April 25, 1785.
   Since Fredericton, unlike Saint John, was not prone to sea attacks; was easily accessible by the St. John River; surrounded by excellent farming land and forests; and was central in the province, the British Government quickly approved Carleton's choice.
   Because of Fredericton's importance as capital, and its proximity to the American border, it was decided that military personnel should be stationed here. The 57th, the 54th Foot, and 104th Foot regiments all served in this area and The Royal Canadian Regiment was raised here on December 21, 1883. The Guard House, Barracks, and Old Officers' Quarters (now the Museum) still standing downtown are tributes to the arrn~s importance to Fredericton's early life.
   The province's first election was held in November of 1785 and took three months to complete. Those elected held their initial meetings in Saint John. The Legislative Assembly did not actually meet in the capital until 1788.
   On April 25,1845, Queen Victoria, acting as head of the Church of England, caused letters to be issued, making Fredericton a Cathedral City and the seat of a Bishop's Diocese. (The population was far short of the 10,000 required for city status, but it was elevated nonetheless.) Crews immediately went to work to build the beautiful Gothic Cathedral whose spire still dominates the skyline today. Fredericton celebrated the 150th anniversary of this historic event in 1995.
   A permanent Maliseet Indian settlement was established on the north side of the St. John River in 1847. It is the site of the present St. Mary's Reserve and home to many members of the St. Mary's Indian Band.
   In 1973, the 125th anniversary of the city's incorporation, Fredericton amalgamated a number of surrounding communities, doubling its area and population. The city will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its incorporation in 1998.
   The people and the events that changed Fredericton from a settlement in the wilderness into the educational and administrative centre of New Brunswick have also shaped a unique cultural landscape. Along our tree-lined streets dwell gifted artists and artisans as well as brilliant scientists and engineers. Their goal ideas seem to incubate during our cold winters and blossom with the summer flowers. They keep Fredericton the vibrant community it is. We preserved our past, celebrate our present, look forward to the future, and are delighted you have come to share it all with us!

The Beaverbrook Legacy

William Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook (1879-1964)
Lord Beaverbrook   Lord Beaverbrook - born William Maxwell Aitken in Maple, Ontario - was brought up in Newcastle, New Brunswick. The son of a Church of Scotland minister, young Aitken showed traits of the ambition, ingenuity and initiative which so marked his later life. At the age of thirteen he published his own newspaper. The Leader only lasted three issues, but it gave him his first taste of the publishing industry.
   Although he sat entrance examinations for Dalhousie University and registered at the St. John Law School, Max Aitken did not receive any formal higher education. Nonetheless, he pursued a successful business career in Canada, initially as an insurance and bond salesman, later as a company promoter. He was also involved in politics.
   In 1910, he went to England and allied himself with Andrew Bonar Law, the only Canadian who ever became Prime Minister of Great Britain. In 1916, Maxwell Aitken received the title of Lord Beaverbrook, complete with a coat of arms designed by Rudyard Kipling.
   Beaverbrook served Britain most notably as Minister of Aircraft Production during World War II. In addition to his various political appointments, he built a publishing empire based on the Daily Express newspaper. He is best remembered in New Brunswick, however, for his many gifts to the province and to the University of New Brunswick. UNB awarded him an honorary LLD in 1921, and in 1946 named him Chancellor. In 1954, in recognition of his importance to the province, the provincial Legislature declared him "a native son of New Brunswick".
   His legacy to Fredericton includes the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Playhouse and the Lady Beaverbrook Rink. The University also benefited from his generosity. The Lady Beaverbrook Residence, the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium, and many other buildings stand testament to him and his family. Beaverbrook's Canadian correspondence and many of the books from his personal collection can be found in the Harriet lrving Library on the UNB campus.

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