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New Brunswick: History and People


Through time immemorial New Brunswick was home to Maliseet (Malecite) and Mi'Kmaq (Micmac) Indians who hunted, fished, grew corn and squash along the riverbanks. The Europeans knew it as early as the 1400s, when Basque fishermen fished off the Grand Banks. Jacques Cartier visited the east coast of present-day New Brunswick in 1534. The Mi'Kmaqs received Champlain and the French when they landed in New Brunswick in 1604. The French settlers who came and settled the area became known as the Acadians.

France and Britain feuded over the area for over a century. Control of the area passed back and forth between the British and French until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 when modern New Brunswick became part of the French province of Acadia. In 1755 the British again defeated French forces and extended British rule to the area. In the same year the British expelled the Acadians from Nova Scotia - 500 of the deportees settled in present day New Brunswick.

In 1762 the first British settlement in New Brunswick was established at Saint John. In 1783, in the aftermath of the American Revolution, the western part of Nova Scotia became the home of thousands (14,000) United Empire Loyalists. These American colonists, wishing to remain faithful to the British Crown, founded communities in the northern part of the province. In 1784, New Brunswick became a separate colony from Nova Scotia. In 1867, New Brunswick joined with Nova Scotia, Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario) to form the Dominion of Canada under the terms of the British North America Act of 1867.

At the beginning of the 20th century, New Brunswick saw and the collapse of the wooden ship industry. Pulp and paper then became the backbone of the New Brunswick economy. Hydroelectric resources, mining and agriculture also took on a more important role.


New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province, with the highest percentage of Francophones outside Quebec (almost 35 percent), The heritage of New Brunswick combines French, British Loyalist, Scots and Irish traditions, with later elements of German, Scandinavian and Asian. The Aboriginal people of New Brunswick number more than 12 000, most of them Mi'Kmaq and Malecite.

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