► the history
► the economy
► the people
► the culture
► the reality
► now what?
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New Brunswick began it's existence as a part of Nova Scotia or Acadia. Later, because of an ongoing dispute between the French the English, who were running the place at the time, New Brunswick became a separate unit.
Whether this was a good thing is still up for debate and over the years, attempts have been made to undo that division. Although it has pretty much dropped off the radar screen today, uniting the three maritime provinces was at various times actively considered.
The prosperity of New Brunswick, indeed of much of the maritimes was at one time tied directly to shipbuilding. In fact Samuel Cunard, he of the famous Cunard ocean liners, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of a master carpenter and timber merchant. The reason for this shipbuilding boom isn't hard to find. The Maritimes had wood, lots of wood. Add to this the ready access to good harbours and the building of ships and sailing them, became pretty much a no-brainer.
Historic Harbour Scene
Many places along New Brunswick's coasts, including Chatham and Campbellton as well as St. Martins, Campobello, St Stephen, St. Andrews and of course, Saint John, boomed. Almost the entire coast line bristled with masts and sails. Money poured in and a large number of manufacturing businesses were established. In addition to those related directly to lumber and shipbuilding, there were others such as foundries, food processors, and various machinery manufacturers and companies producing products for the shipbuilding industry.
This was a time of "wooden ships and iron men". Sleek clipper ships as well as more prosaic sailing vessels roamed the seven seas moving cargo and people around the globe. Many of these ships as well as inummerable fishing boats, were constructed in shipyards that dotted the New Brunswick coast. Then in 1843, something happened that was to change the course of history, also in New Brunswick.
From Boom to Bust
As is so often the case, these developments were at first dismissed by many as a fad but, predictably, the naysayers were proven wrong. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the building of large wooden sailing ships in New Brunswick ground to a halt. It didn't happen overnight. In 1867 when New Brunswick was busy helping to found the new country called Canada, many ships still slid down the ways of the various coastal shipyards.
As recently as September 28, 1918, a wooden schooner, the Ada A. McIntyre was launched at a yard in Moss Glen, close to Saint John. By this time however, the glory days of wooden shipbuilding in New Brunswick had long since come to an end. Still, many of the spin-off industries continued to prosper. In Saint John, ship-building also carried on, albeit at a reduced pace until finally, the shipyard was permanently closed on June 27, 2003
Inevitably, other industries suffered the same fate, as companies in Central Canada rationalized their production. A sugar refining mill in Saint John which was built in 1912 closed its doors for the last time at the end of 1998. One-by-one grain elevators which had been used to ship grain through the Port of Saint John were dismantled. Today, the port handles mostly containers and cruise ship traffic.
In more recent years, there have been a number of business ventures, encouraged by a series of desperate and sometimes naive governments, that unfortunately ended in failure. Among them was the recent Cansugar debackle, as well as the Bricklin fiasco. In 1974, Malcolm Bricklin, an American promoter, launched the Bricklin car company in Saint John. There have been other similar disasters.
Today, though it wears a few scars, Saint John is still a prosperous and vibrant city. Moncton, to the east, has also become a thriving hub. New Brunswick's capital, Fredericton, is a lovely provincial town stunningly located on the Saint John River. As the seat of Government, Fredericton offers all the associated activity, as well centres for art and culture.
New Brunswick Museum
What's in it for me...
These factors lose some of their impact when a knowledge-based economy is added to the mix. Good to excellent internet access, good roads and other infrastructure and easy access to major U.S. centres such as Boston make New Brunswick an excellent place to live and prosper. Why not see for yourself?Also Read:
►Province of New Brunswick - Learn about New Brunswick
This content was written by Henry (Hank) Mulder. Born in the Netherlands, Henry lived in several provinces before settling in New Brunswick.
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