New Brunswick (province, Canada)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

New Brunswick (province, Canada)

New Brunswick, province (2001 pop. 729,498), 28,345 sq mi (73,433 sq km), including 519 sq mi (1,345 sq km) of water surface, E Canada.


One of the Maritime Provinces, New Brunswick is bounded on the N by Chaleur Bay and Quebec prov.; on the E by the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Northumberland Strait (across which it is connected by bridge with Prince Edward Island), and Nova Scotia; on the S by the Bay of Fundy and Passamaquoddy Bay; and on the W by Maine. Its irregular coastline provides excellent facilities for fishing and shipping enterprises. Rivers cross the rolling countryside; they were the first means of transportation and are still important arteries of travel and commerce. The largest river, the St. John, crosses the province from northwest to southeast; the Miramichi River flows northeasterly and drains the central lowlands. Most of the roads parallel the rivers.

New Brunswick's forests are still filled with bear, deer, and moose, and the rivers abound in trout and salmon, although pollution from paper mills has reduced the salmon population. Summer residences, many owned by Americans, are concentrated in the south around Passamaquoddy Bay. Natural attractions include the Grand Falls on the upper reaches of the St. John as well as the spectacular Fundy tides—the highest in the world, sometimes surging to over 50 ft (15 m). The tides in turn cause the Reversing Falls at St. John and the "Bore," a twice-daily wave moving up the Petitcodiac River. They have also sculpted the Hopewell Rocks, another tourist attraction.

Fredericton is the capital and the third largest city. The largest city is Saint John, the second largest Moncton. About half the population lives in urban areas.

Economy and Higher Education

Dairying in New Brunswick thrives on fine pasturage; the major crops are potatoes, hay, clover, oats, berries, and fruit. A careful conservation program maintains a supply of second-growth hardwoods and softwoods; forests cover about 90% of the total area, and lumbering is New Brunswick's most important industry. Great quantities of pulpwood and paper are produced.

Manufacturing has greatly expanded since World War II; in addition to wood, pulp, and paper, products include food and beverages, boats and ships, chemicals, refined oil, and shoes. Industry is generally run by hydroelectric power, although the province has coal reserves. There is a nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau. Mining is important, with zinc, silver, and lead the most important minerals. Other minerals include copper, bismuth, cadmium, gold, antimony, potash, oil, and natural gas.

New Brunswick's fisheries are among the most valuable in Canada, with a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish (salmon, herring, and sardines) as well as shellfish (lobsters, oysters, and clams). Trade flows in and out of the ports of St. John and Moncton, facilitated by railroad connections eastward to Nova Scotia and westward to Quebec. Tourism, one of New Brunswick's most important industries, is spurred by Acadian cultural events and by such outdoor attractions as Fundy National Park. The only officially bilingual province, New Brunswick has also developed an important telecommunications industry in recent years.

The province's four universities are Mount Allison Univ., at Sackville; St. Thomas Univ., at Fredericton; the Univ. de Moncton, a major francophone institution at Moncton; and the Univ. of New Brunswick, at Fredericton and Saint John.

History and Politics

The Mi'kmaq, an indigenous people whose settlements stretched along the coast from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to the S Gaspé Peninsula, lived here when the first European—said to have been the Portuguese navigator Estevão Gomes (1525), although Basque fishermen may have preceded him—sailed along the coast. Jacques Cartier landed at Point Escuminac in 1534 and skirted the shores of Miramichi Bay.

The first, short-lived European settlement was made in 1604 at the mouth of the St. Croix River (on Dochet Island, at the Maine border) by Champlain and the sieur de Monts. France and England made conflicting territorial claims on the region, which, combining the present province of Nova Scotia and the coast of New Brunswick, was called Acadia by the French and Nova Scotia by the British. British control was confirmed by the Peace of Utrecht (1713–14). Doubting the loyalty of the Acadians, the British expelled them in 1755, although many fled into the interior, which was still effectively controlled by the French. Others sought refuge in the American colonies or returned to France. (Today about 35% of the people of New Brunswick are Acadians, and the province is a center of Acadian culture.) Great Britain took possession of the rest of New Brunswick when it gained all of Canada after the French and Indian Wars (see The Treaty of 1763 under Paris, Treaty of).

When the population of Nova Scotia was increased by many thousands of Loyalists who fled New England after the American Revolution, New Brunswick was organized (1784) into a separate colony. As trees were cut down for shipbuilding, the land was cleared for farming. By the middle of the 19th cent. settlement was extending into the interior, and St. John was a busy port and shipbuilding town. Dissatisfaction with the arbitrary rule of the provincial governor resulted in the achievement of responsible (or cabinet) government in 1849. In 1867, under the British North America Act, federation with the other provinces into the dominion of Canada was somewhat reluctantly accepted.

In 1960, Louis J. Robichaud, leader of the Liberal party, was the first Acadian to become premier of New Brunswick. He organized a program of equal opportunity, redistributing income to the poorer north, proposing new economic development, and instituting bilingual services to accommodate the province's steadily growing francophone population. The Progressive Conservative party came into power in 1970 under Richard Bennett Hatfield, who continued many of the programs begun by Robichaud.

In 1987, in an unprecedented sweep, Liberals won all 58 House seats and named Frank McKenna premier. The Liberals retained power until 1999, when the Progressive Conservatives, under Bernard Lord, returned to power. Lord secured a second term in 2003, but the Liberals, led by Shawn Graham, won in 2006. In 2010 the Liberals lost, and Progressive Conservative leader David Alward became premier; four years later the Liberals, led by Brian Gallant, won the election.

New Brunswick sends 10 senators and 10 representatives to the national parliament.


See W. S. MacNutt, New Brunswick: A History, 1784–1867 (1963) and New Brunswick and its People (1966); G. Wynn, Timber Colonies (1981); J. Daigle, ed., The Acadians of the Maritimes (1982).

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