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Nova Scotia, which also included all of New Brunswick, was initially settled by Scots, hence the name, New Scotland. Many of the people in both provinces today, are the direct descendants of these sturdy pioneers. With their frugal ways and a well honed work ethic, these early settlers carved a vibrant and prosperous life out of their new wilderness home. Their hard work and perserverance still cast a broad shadow over the New Brunswick landscape.
After New Brunswick was set up as a separate unit, and as a result of the American Revolutionary War, a large influx of Loyalists, many originally from Great Britain, fleeing from persecution and harrassment in the new United States, settled in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In New Brunswick they located primarily in Saint John and Saint Andrews. These people also brought their own unique legacy to the province.
Because of the dislocation brought about by the forced eviction of the French-speaking Acadians which occurred at about the same time, a substantial number of these peaceful woodsmen and farmers and their families escaped to north-eastern New Brunswick. The Acadian community today is a vibrant and important part of the New Brunswick cultural mosaic.
New Brunswick also became the destination for thousands of Irish immigrants in the form of refugees fleeing the potato famines during the mid-19th century. Timber cargo vessels, returning empty to the colony from Britain, provided cheap passage for these desperate people. Quarantine hospitals were located on islands at the mouth of the colony's two major ports, Saint John (Partridge Island) and Chatham-Newcastle (Middle Island), where many would ultimately die.
A substantial number of these desperate people where also routed to smaller centres, such as Saint Andrews where they were quarantined on a tiny island dubbed Hospital Island. Their fate was depressingly the same. Those who did survive settled on marginal agricultural lands in the Miramichi River valley and in the Saint John River and Kennebecasis River valleys while many of those in the Saint Andrews area ended up on railway crews.
It became apparent that for these Irish the new world was only a slight improvement over the old and the hardscrabble farms were eventually abandoned for the colony's major cities within a generation. A number also left for greener pastures in Portland, Maine or Boston, Mass. Today, many New Brunswickers can trace their roots directly to those who remained.
This mix of cultures has made New Brunswick's population an interesting and diverse group. The very pronounced Celtic influence, both Acadian and Irish can be seen in the desire to balance culture and commerce in the make-up of daily life. While New Brunswickers are not afraid of hard work and creating a solid home for themselves and their families, they also treasure their laid-back lifestyle.
There is also a strong independent streak which is especially noticeable in a healthy entrepreneurial elan. It is this mindset especially which makes New Brunswick such a great place for anyone with some initiative, to thrive.
In spite of its small size, there is not one New Brunswick, but several. This is most easily explained by visiting the various towns and cities in the province. In addition to the major centres of Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton, the capital, these include:
Residents of St. Stephen and Calais have always regarded their community as one place and still do today, cooperating in their fire departments and other community projects. The border is merely an annoying but almost non-existent nuisance. Today it is the home of Canada's oldest candy maker and a major wood processing plant.
What's in it for me...
►Tourism New Brunswick - Our People
►Province of New Brunswick - Resources for Residents
►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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