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.
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.
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.
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
Thomas 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
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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!
William Maxwell Aitken, 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.
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 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
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".
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.