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Exploring the Past in New Brunswick

Archaeology and History Sites in New Brunswick

Augustine Mound

Located on the territory of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation, the Augustine Mound was erected circa 500 BCE and is linked to what archaeologists term the Adena culture. A burial mound surrounded by a circular ritual site, it stands near to the junction of the Northwest and Little Southwest Miramichi Rivers. A National Historic Site since 1975, the tumuli underwent excavation between 1975-76. It remains an important place to local Mi’kmaq communities.

Carleton Martello Tower

The Carleton Martello Tower in Saint John is one of nine surviving Martello Towers along the Canadian coast. Construction began in 1813, when British Canada was engaged in the War of 1812 with the United States. It remained in active use by Canada’s military until 1944, during which time it was used as both a barracks and a military prison for deserters. In 1963 it became a heritage attraction for visitors.

Fort Beausejour

French colonists established Fort Beausejour to defend themselves between 1751 and 1752 although the British took it over in 1755, renaming it Fort Cumberland. Pro-independence revolutionaries attacked the site amid the American Revolutionary War in 1776. After the latter conflict, the British military abandoned the fort and it fell into ruin. The government have classified it as a National Historic Site since 1922. Today, visitors can still walk around the ruins of the old fort.

Fort Gaspareaux

Fort Gaspareaux near Port Elgin covers 1.23 hectares of land on the southern side of the Gaspareaux River estuary. It was erected amid Father Le Loutre’s War, a conflict between various ethnic groups in the region. Today, visitors can explore the earthen ramparts and other ruins of the fort as well as the graves of nine soldiers killed here in 1756. The government has recognised it as a National Historic Site since 1920.

Loyalist House

The Loyalist House in Saint John was built in the 1810s by the Merritts, a family from Rye, New York. They were United Empire Loyalists and had fled north to escape the American Revolution. It remained in the ownership of the Merritt family until the 1960s, when the New Brunswick Historical Society established it as a visitor’s heritage attraction. The government have classified it as a National Historic Site since 1961.

McAdam Railway Station

The McAdam Railway Station has the distinction of being the largest passenger station in New Brunswick, but no longer serves its original function. Built in 1900–01, it was designed in the Chateau style of architecture. In 1981, passenger services ceased going to McAdam Station. They were reinstated in 1985 but ended again in 1994. A National Historic Site of Canada, the old station is now a heritage attraction accessible through guided tours.

Meductic Indian Village / Fort Meductic

Located near the confluence of the Eeel River and the Saint John River, the Meductic Indian Village was a settlement inhabited by a Maliseet community from at least the 17th century up to the mid-18th century. The Maliseet fortified part of the plateau to defend from Mohawk attacks. The site was flooded by the construction of the Mactaquac Hydroelectric Dam in 1968, although a nearby cairn and plaque commemorate the village.

Minister’s Island Pre-Contact Sites

The Minister’s Island Pre-Contact Sites is a National Historic Site of Canada encompassing several prehistoric shell middens and settlement structures dating from between 1000 and 500 BCE. Archaeologists believe that the communities who created these ancient features were the ancestors of the later Passamaquoddy people who lived in coastal areas along New Brunswick and Maine. In the 19th century, Minister Island became a summer estate for William Van Horne, President of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Roosevelt Campobello International Park

Located close to Canada’s border with the United States, the Roosevelt Campobello International Park on Campobello Island preserves the former summer retreat of the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his family. The house was completed in 1897 in accordance with the Shingle architectural style. It was here, in 1921, that the young Roosevelt was struck down with polio, leaving him wheelchair bound for the rest of his life.

St. Andrews Blockhouse

St Andrews Blockhouse in Passamaquoddy Bay’s Niger Reef was one of twelve structures erected amid the War of 1812 to help the forces of British Canada defend against attacks from the U.S. military and privateers. A fire in 1993 partially destroyed the original blockhouse, but restoration followed, ensuring that the structure now looks much as it did in 1812. Various interpretive displays have been set up inside the building.

Museums in New Brunswick

Acadian Museum of Caraquet

The Acadians are the descendants of French colonists who settled in Acadia, itself a colony of New France, during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Acadians’ use of the French language marked them out as a distinct group from the English language speakers who came to predominate across much of Canada. The Acadian Museum of Caraquet explores the heritage of the Acadian population resident in this area of New Brunswick.

Central New Brunswick Woodsmen’s Museum

The Central New Brunswick Woodsmen’s Museum in Boiestown focuses attention on the heritage of the forestry industry in New Brunswick and the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada more broadly. Opened in 1979, the museum boasts several Quonset Huts, which were moved here from Peaked Mountain, as well as a replica of a historic blacksmith’s shop. Ideal for anyone interested in the history of the lumber industry.

Grand Manan Museum

Opened in 1967 thanks to the efforts of dedicated local people, the Grand Manan Museum is devoted to the heritage of the eponymous Grand Manan Island. The museum’s displays cover issues such as life in a lighthouse and ship building, evidencing the maritime nature of the island. The Allan Moses Bird Gallery contains over 300 taxidermy birds, making it the largest collection in the museum. The archive contains material pertaining to local history.

Kings Landing Historical Settlement

The Kings Landing Historical Settlement is an open-air museum comprising various historic buildings moved here, primarily from the area destroyed by the construction of Mactaquac Dam. These structures date from the 19th and early 20th century and together help give visitors the impression that they are stepping back in time. Reenactors dressed in period costume help further the immersive experience. Special events and workshops take place throughout the year.

Metepenagiag Heritage Park

Metepenagiag Heritage Park in Red Bank is under the control of the Mi’kmaq, a local indigenous community. The park contains a museum and various structures through which it educates visitors on the traditional lifestyles of Mi’kmaq people. The park also encompasses two archaeological sites, the Augustine Mound and the Oxbow Site, reflecting human activity on the site stretching back around 3000 years. There is also the opportunity to camp overnight at the park.

New Brunswick Museum

The New Brunswick Museum in Saint John focuses on the history of this eastern province. Displays explore the province’s role in shipbuilding and seafaring, as well as the heritage associated with such local industries as lumbering, farming, and industrial manufacture. The museum’s natural history collection includes a range of taxidermy birds and a display about the whales that can be spotted off the New Brunswick coast. A range of temporary exhibits supplement the main collection.

New Brunswick Railway Museum

Operated by the Canadian Railroad Historical Association, the New Brunswick Railway Museum in Hillsborough was established by local railroad enthusiasts in the 1980s. In 1994 an arson attack destroyed much of the museum and its collection but much rebuilding has taken place since that time. The museum has over a dozen train carriages in its collection from various periods of history; at least one is over a century old.

Saint John Jewish Historical Museum

Opened in 1986, the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum focuses on the heritage of the city’s Jewish community, which stretches back to the mid-19th century. A range of different artefacts are on display in this small museum, supplemented by various temporary exhibitions. A hub for the local community, the museum houses an archive for those interested in researching local Jewish history and also hosts an annual Jewish film festival.

Southern Victoria Historical Museum

Open during the summer months, the Southern Victoria Historical Museum in Perth-Andover occupies an old church that has been specially converted to display a range of historic artefacts. Among the objects in its collection are various agricultural implements and other tools, clothing, household artefacts, and various maps and old photographs pertaining to this area of western New Brunswick. Ideal for those with a particular interest in the local history of Perth-Andover.

Village Historique Acadien

The Village Historique Acadien in Bertrand is an open-air museum that seeks to recreate a historic settlement of the Acadians, the French speaking ethno-cultural community living in eastern Canada. It was created in 1969 by people concerned about the potential loss of Acadian heritage. Over 40 buildings have been brought here from across New Brunswick to ensure their long-term preservation. Reenactors dressed in period costume help to create a more immersive experience for visitors.

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