New Brunswick is one of three (3) provinces collectively known as the "Maritimes." Joined to Nova Scotia by the narrow Chignecto Isthmus and separated from Prince Edward Island by the Northumberland Strait, New Brunswick forms the land bridge linking this region to continental North America. It is bounded in the north by Québec and in the west by the US (Maine), and its history has often been influenced by the activities of these powerful neighbours. Successively part of an Algonquian cultural area, of French ACADIA and of British Nova Scotia, it achieved separate colonial status only after the arrival of LOYALIST refugees from the AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
In 1784 the British divided Nova Scotia at the Chignecto Isthmus, naming the west and north portion New Brunswick after the German duchy of Brunswick-Lunenburg, which was also ruled at the time by King George III of England. New Brunswick was one of the 4 original provinces, its entry being essential to CONFEDERATION. Its influence declined sharply with the rise of the West and the central cities; yet it has survived a series of economic crises to develop progressive communities with enviable lifestyles.
The return of Acadians expelled during the SEVEN YEARS' WAR (1756-63) and the immigration of francophones from Québec created tensions between the 2 language groups. The trend in recent years has been toward tolerance and an increasing acceptance of duality in public institutions. New Brunswick is now the only officially bilingual province in Canada.
New Brunswick: Land and Surface
Land and Resources
The area of New Brunswick is 73 440 km2. The principal regional divisions are the watershed of the Bay of FUNDY, centering on the SAINT JOHN RIVER valley, and the north and east shores. The Saint John River offered early access to much of the best farmland and timber resources of the province. Occupied by the descendants of Loyalists and other immigrants from Great Britain and the US, the valley has been inhabited mainly by Protestants who, until the 1960s, tended to dominate the government and the educational and commercial institutions of the province.
The residents of north and east shores, living in coastal fishing villages and interior lumbering settlements along the rivers, have been separated physically from the valley communities by uplands and belts of forest, and separated culturally by their predominantly French language and Catholic religion.
The two major divisions include several subregions. In the northwest the French-speaking population of Madawaska County, closer to Québec and conscious of common interests with neighbouring Americans, talk of a "republic of Madawaska." Residents of Carleton and Victoria counties on the upper Saint John have a sense of community based on their virtual monopoly of the potato industry and strengthened by their strong commitment to evangelical religions.
In the southwest at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy lies Charlotte County, distinguished in part by its fisheries, including a unique sardine fishery, and by strong tourist and other ties with the US. There is another division at the head of Fundy, where Albert and Westmorland counties encompass an anglophone population conscious of its central location in a Maritime region, while the Acadian community of Westmorland and Kent counties aspires to the leadership of the French in the province. An anomaly in the regional division is the Miramichi section of Northumberland County, which as a traditionally English-speaking mixed Catholic and Protestant area bisects the Acadian community of the northern and eastern shores. In the north, Gloucester and to a lesser degree Restigouche counties form a heartland of Acadian culture.
New Brunswick's rock foundation was largely formed in the Paleozoic era (544-250 million years ago). It was part of a geological formation extending from the southeastern US to Newfoundland. Much of the rock in northern and western New Brunswick was created through ocean deposits of the Ordovician period (510-441 million years ago). These rocks were folded, intruded with granites, and overlain with lavas which reflected sporadic volcanic activity throughout the Paleozoic era. They contain the zinc-lead-copper deposits of the Bathurst to Newcastle area. Folding, faulted movements and volcanic activity reached a climax over 350 million years ago in what has been called the Acadian Orogeny. Much of the base of the central and eastern parts of the province originated in the later Carboniferous period (ending 300 million years ago), with the rocks formed in rivers, swamps and shallow basins. These included red, green and grey sandstones, some of which are coal-bearing, and conglomerates and isolated deposits of limestone, gypsum, salt and oil-bearing shales.
New Brunswick topography is characterized by northern uplands rising to 820 m and mountainous in appearance, gently rolling hills in the centre and east, sharp hills on the southern coast sloping down to tidal marshes and a lowland plain in the southeast.
The soils tend to be thin and acidic over the uplands, deeper but frequently poorly drained and acidic in the centre and west, and rocky in portions of the south. The best soils for agriculture tend to lie in intervale lands along the rivers. The upper Saint John is flanked by low plateaus of well-drained sandy loam with good lime content - excellent for growing potatoes. The finely textured soils of the Fundy lowlands are also suitable for agriculture. Whatever their agricultural deficiencies, New Brunswick soils do grow trees. Only 5% of the province is farmland; most of the remainder of the province, some 83%, is under forest cover. Almost all of the forest cover is considered suitable for forestry; of this, 45% is softwood, 27% is hardwood and the remaining 28% is mixed. Spruce and fir are the leading softwoods, followed in importance by cedar and white pine. Jack pine, red pine, hemlock and larch are also present. The hardwoods are led by red and sugar maples, poplar, white and yellow birch and beech in that order, with occasional ash, elm, hop hornbeam and red oak.
The Bay of Fundy, along New Brunswick's Southern Coast
No part of New Brunswick is more than 180 km from the ocean, the principal means of early transportation. An extensive river system brought access well into the interior of the province, permitting early development of the timber trade and dictating patterns of settlement. The largest cities are located on the rivers, as are most of the towns and villages. Lakes are common in the south, with the largest, Grand Lake, more than 30 km in length.
New Brunswick's climate tends to be continental, though tempered by proximity to the ocean. It is harshest in the northwest, where more than one-third of precipitation comes as snow, and temperatures are several degrees colder than the central interior.
Coastal communities are several degrees warmer in winter and slightly cooler in summer, with annual snowfalls of only 15% to 20% of precipitation. The average frost-free period varies from about 130 days in the northwest to 175 along the Fundy coast.
Potato Fields in New Brunswick
The forest is the province's greatest natural resource, supporting lumbering, pulp and paper, hunting and fishing as well as the tourist industry.
Second in importance are mineral deposits, which include the base metals near Bathurst in the north, potash deposits near Sussex in the south, significant coal reserves in the area of Grand Lake, oil shales in Westmorland County and recent gold discoveries in the south-central part of the province.
Third comes agriculture, with substantial potato production on the northern Saint John, and dairy and mixed farming largely in the river valleys.
Fisheries rank fourth, with lobster, crab and herring taken from the Bay of Fundy, Northumberland Strait and eastern shore fisheries.
Both agriculture and fisheries support a substantial food-processing industry. The rivers, especially the Saint John in utilities at Mactaquac, Beechwood and Grand Falls, have yielded significant portions of the province's energy needs. In the initial stages of development is the energy potential of the Bay of Fundy tides, which rise from 4.6 m at the entrance to over 16 m at the head of the bay.
Fish and game offer a recreational resource to resident and visiting sport hunters. Trout are caught throughout the province; bass and pickerel are available in southern lakes. In 1994, 36 246 bright (coming from the ocean to spawn) salmon were angled by 35 529 anglers. Because of conservation measures larger salmon were returned, for a total of 17 500 retained. Over 89 300 licensed hunters reported a white-tail deer kill of 10 216. Bear, rabbit, ducks, geese and ruffed grouse are also hunted. A limited kill of moose is permitted. Winter angling has been developed in 135 lakes and ponds. In 1994, 1797 licensed trappers took furs (muskrat, beaver, raccoon, marten, fox, mink, coyote, bobcat, fisher and otter) valued at approximately $89 000.
Acadian Forests of New Brunswick
The forests are the focal point of conservation efforts in the province. Forest management has evolved considerably since the province first gained control over its crown lands in 1837. It is now considered to have one of the best systems in Canada. The trees were first considered a commodity with controlled harvests. Forestry practices in the mid-1960s changed to the cultivation of the forests. Forest management finally evolved to an integrated and sustainable approach where other factors such as recreation and wildlife preservation are also considered. The spruce budworm, a moth whose larvae in summer months devour the needles of spruce and fir, did serious damage to province forests in the 1920s; the last epidemic was in the mid-1980s. A control program is put into place when population levels threaten the forest. In the 1970s salmon angling improved markedly with the federal ban on commercial salmon fishing. The war continues against poaching, with the arming of provincial wardens, the tagging of legally caught salmon, and jail sentences and vehicle confiscation for night hunters. Attempts to protect fish and game and to assert an overriding provincial jurisdiction have brought wardens into conflict with First Nations trying to defend traditional treaty and aboriginal fishing and hunting rights. The provincial park system is currently being restructured, with some parks being transferred to municipal governments or the private sector. The largest park remaining in the system is MOUNT CARLETON PROVINCIAL PARK.
Early Acadian Village from the 1700's
New Brunswick's initial European settlers were Acadians who, with the use of dikes, farmed the marshlands of the Chignecto Isthmus and part of the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy. Following their expulsion (1755 onwards), their lands were taken by Protestant settlers from New England (PLANTERS), Pennsylvania and Yorkshire, England. When the Acadians tried to return after the Peace of Paris in 1763, some were granted land in the Memramcook area and some found employment in fishing stations from the Gaspé to Cape Breton Island.
When the LOYALISTS arrived, most of the Acadians on the lower Saint John pushed up the river to Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska. The Loyalist exiles, approximately 14 000 in number, penetrated the interior largely by way of the Saint John River. Essentially a cross-section of society in the Thirteen Colonies, they included very few college graduates and Anglican clergy and close to 1000 BLACKS, most of them slaves of wealthy Loyalists, but some, perhaps a third, Loyalists in their own right. About 200 blacks later left for Sierra Leone and the remainder were joined by refugee blacks from the WAR OF 1812. Although the Loyalists overwhelmed the perhaps 3000 residents of New Brunswick on their arrival, they too were diluted in the first half of the 19th century by immigrant waves of SCOTS and IRISH, who found employment in a burgeoning lumber industry. Forced to compete with cheap immigrant labour, older settlers frequently left. In the depression of the traditional timber and SHIPBUILDING economy in the 1880s, it was the turn of the Irish and Scots to seek employment elsewhere.
The growth of cities outside the region and the collapse of the new industrial economy in the 1920s continued to drain the population of most of its natural increase. Acadians, who were more resistant to economic pressures to leave, and were bolstered by immigration from Québec, consolidated their hold on the northern counties as railways opened new lands for colonization. The trend to urbanization changed New Brunswick from more than two-thirds rural before 1941 to predominantly urban by 1971. Then came a reversal as the officially designated urban population dropped from 53.3% in 1976 to 47.7% in 1991, owing to a resumption of migration from the region as well as a residential move to the suburbs, which had been made attractive by improved services, cheaper land and lower taxes. In 2001 the population was 729 498, 50.4% of which was urban.
Acadia, now known as Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
New Brunswick's chief metropolitan area is SAINT JOHN, a leading centre of British North America in the mid-19th century, the city owed its importance to the timber trade (made accessible by its river) and to its ice-free port, which supplied the estuary and dominated shipping and shipbuilding on the Bay of Fundy. Saint John's metropolitan pretensions were flawed by its failure to secure the provincial capital or the university and undermined by New Brunswick's entry into a nation whose interests were continental rather than maritime. Saint John's current urban status is largely industrial, based on an oil refinery, pulp and paper mills, a nuclear power plant, dry dock facilities and a major container port.
Second in importance as a metropolitan region is MONCTON, which has long owed its importance to transportation and distribution facilities (headquarters of the Atlantic division of CN and a trucking centre). It is also the traditional headquarters for the Acadian media and financial institutions and in 1963 became the site of the provincial francophone university, UNIVERSITÉ DE MONCTON. Ranking third as a metropolitan centre, FREDERICTON gained its importance from Saint John's deficiencies - the provincial government and university. When the civil service and universities mushroomed in the 1960s and early 1970s, so did Fredericton. A neighbouring town, OROMOCTO, the headquarters for CFB GAGETOWN, reflects in its growth and decline the shifting status of the Canadian Armed Forces. BATHURST, EDMUNDSTON and CAMPBELLTON emerged as largely single-industry towns when New Brunswick made the transition from sawlogs to pulp and paper manufacture. With base-metal mining, a zinc reduction mill, and with an ice-free port at nearby BELLEDUNE, Bathurst became one of the industrial leaders of the north.