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==== Political Divisions - Personal ====
==== Political Divisions - Personal ====
In late 19th and early 20th century New Brunswick, families voted Conservative or Liberal, and, in the words of W.S. Gilbert, every child was born “either a little Liberal, Or else a little Conservative!”<ref>Gilbert, W.S., Iolanthe (1882), Act 2.</ref> Politics will determine which newspapers the family took, and so, where fulsome obituaries and reports on funerals will be found, as opposed to brief death notices. Most Acadians are thought to vote Liberal; Saint John, the Loyalist City, is still considered a Conservative bastion, but this is not always true. Politics matter, though not as much as they once did, and local protest parties rise and fall in popularity.
In late 19th and early 20th century New Brunswick, families voted Conservative or Liberal, and, in the words of W.S. Gilbert, every child was born “either a little Liberal, Or else a little Conservative!”<ref>Gilbert, W.S., Iolanthe (1882), Act 2. </ref> Politics will determine which newspapers the family took, and so, where fulsome obituaries and reports on funerals will be found, as opposed to brief death notices. Most Acadians are thought to vote Liberal; Saint John, the Loyalist City, is still considered a Conservative bastion, but this is not always true. Politics matter, though not as much as they once did, and local protest parties rise and fall in popularity.
Revision as of 23:11, 2 July 2013
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors by Althea Douglas, MA, CG(C). The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Introduction to New Brunswick
Divided We Stand
New Brunswick is that square province of Canada that you have to traverse on your way to find Anne of Green Gables on Prince Edward Island, or the Military Tattoo in Halifax. It is not a large area, just over 28,355 square miles [73,440 square kilometres]. As you drive through you will cross at least one wide river where a few salmon still run in the late spring, countless brooks with deep shaded pools where trout lurk, and at least one large tract of third-growth spruce forest. Alas, the modern highways will cause you to by-pass most cities, the picturesque villages and many historic sites.
New Brunswick is one of the three Maritime Provinces which are part of Atlantic Canada.
When Canadians talk about the Maritime Provinces, they usually mean Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. After 1949, the year Newfoundland and Labrador became a Canadian province, you begin to find journalists and political scientist talking about “Atlantic Canada” meaning all four “Atlantic Provinces”.
“The Maritimes,” nevertheless, remains a useful collective term for the two mainland provinces (Cape Breton Island is attached by a causeway to Nova Scotia), plus “the Island” (Prince Edward Island). When someone refers to “the Rock” they mean Newfoundland.
“Upper Canadians” live in “Upper Canada” which begins somewhere beyond the border between New Brunswick and Québec and ends about Thunder Bay, after which you are in “the West.” “Canada East” is what Québec was called from 1841 to 1867, and does not refer to Atlantic Canada, though from a western point of view, it is part of “the East” or eastern Canada.
The “Boston States” refers, more or less, to the original territory of Massachusetts, now northern New England, remembering that Boston itself was the centre of culture, fashion, and education for the generations of Maritimers born before about 1920. New England was far easier to get to than Upper Canada, and almost everyone had family connections there.
A Divided Province
The area of the province may be small, but those rivers and forests still divide New Brunswick into several regions separated from each other by both history and geography. The Saint John River runs through the province from the north-west corner to the Bay of Fundy, the Mirimichi flows east out of the centre of the province into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while the 7-shaped Petitcodiac runs into the end of the Bay of Fundy whose high tides cause a tidal bore to sweep up the river twice a day. Different groups of people settled these river valleys, cut down the tall pine forests, caught the salmon and, where the land proved fertile (not all of it was), established farms. Genealogy in New Brunswick, like anywhere else, requires a knowledge of both history and geography.
The Vikings, followed by fishermen from the west of England, Portugal, the Basque country and France undoubtedly visited the lands around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, if only through misadventures. When Europeans arrived around 1604, with ideas of colonization, the area we call New Brunswick became a part of the French colony of Acadia. From 1713 to 1755 the English and French fought over Acadia/Nova Scotia, and when the English prevailed, all of Acadia became Nova Scotia. New Brunswick did not exist until the end of the American Revolution.
After 1783 the British government was besieged by Loyalists who had held government positions in the Thirteen Colonies and were now clamouring for new posts. Government jobs in Nova Scotia were already filled, so the solution was to make New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island separate colonies. This required two more of everything, from Chief Justice and Surveyor General to the lowest functionaries. Cape Breton rejoined Nova Scotia in 1820 but New Brunswick continued as a separate British colony with a government that had the power to grant land, run its own courts and even issue postage stamps. In 1867 New Brunswick became a province of the new Dominion of Canada.
Political Divisions - Administrative
A number of Townships were established in that portion of Nova Scotia that would become New Brunswick: several along the Saint John River, some along the Petitcodiac River and in the Chignecto Isthmus. They did not last beyond 1786 when the new colony of New Brunswick was divided into eight Counties for administrative purposes, with the counties subdivided into civil Parishes.
Today there are fifteen counties, the newer ones carved out of older counties as population grew. Almost all archival records are organized by County.
The [Http://archives.gnb.ca/ Provincial Archives of New Brunswick] (PANB) offer a genealogical guide to each County, listing some of what exists and what does not, and these are also posted on the Internet.
The Aboriginals were here first, but they were not all of the same tribes. There were Mi’kmaq (Micmac) along the east coast, in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The Maliseet shared the west of the region with the Passemaquoddy who were centred around the bay of that name and into Maine. All three spoke dialects of Algonquian. In New England the Eastern Abenaki were not always friendly neighbours.
In 1604 Champlain and De Monts’ expedition wintered on Isle de Sainte-Croix (Dochet’s Island) and explored the Fundy coast. Fishermen from the west of England and the Channel Islands looked over the north of the province and the Dutch captured the fort at Jemseg on the Saint John River in 1674. However, the French were the first permanent European settlers in what would become New Brunswick. Once it became an English possession, New England merchants built an establishment at the mouth of the Saint John in 1762 and a Scottish merchant brought his settlers to the Mirimichi in 1764. Before the American Revolution, New England Planters were established in Chignecto and on the Saint John River; German-speaking settlers from Pennsylvania had arrived at “The Bend” of the Petitcodiac in 1763 and Yorkshire emigrants arrived in Chignecto in 1772-1775.
When authors of the Historical Atlas of Canada write: “In New Brunswick, European settlement began with the coming of the Loyalists” (Vol. II, Plate 7), one can only point out that by the time these “latecomers” (as some call them) arrived, there were over 3,000 people of various European origins, comfortably settled in and waiting to greet them, somewhat unenthusiastically one should add, for the 14,000 Loyalists soon dominated the province.
Map of New Brunswick With Shield
Fed. Dept. M. & T. S. 1954.
Map of Prehistoric Period
By W. F. Ganong, 1899, showing routes of travel, author’s collection.
Map of Saint John Harbour, 1761
First hydrographic survey, frontispiece of D.R. Jack’s Centennial Priza Essay (1883), author’s collection.
New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada. The Official Languages Act was passed in 1969, making both English and French languages of government. French-speaking Acadians, who represent around 40 percent (depending on who is counting what) of the population, have maintained their language and culture in spite of the dominance of English and while most documents you encounter will be in English, Acadian church registers are usually kept in French, and local histories and social studies are published in French. Do not overlook this part of New Brunswick heritage.
What church a family attended will determine where many records exist. While some 54 percent of New Brunswickers are Roman Catholic, these are not all of Acadian origin, the Irish who arrived in the 19th century changed the population balance. Some Irish were Roman Catholics, but Protestant Orangemen (mostly Presbyterian) also arrived in numbers that brought the rivalries and riots of the Old World to the New.
The Church of England (Anglican) was the legally “established church.” Methodism was brought from Yorkshire and enriched from the United States, Baptists developed out of the Newlights movement in Planter Nova Scotia, and the Presbyterian Church tended to absorb small German-speaking Lutheran congregations.
Methodists, Congregationalists, and some Presbyterians became the United Church of Canada in 1926 but religious divisions remained. A friend of my youth said she came from a “mixed marriage” her father was Anglican, her mother Baptist. Intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants was not encouraged, but occurred regularly. Such religious divisions have become less and less important since the end of World War II.
Political Divisions - Personal
In late 19th and early 20th century New Brunswick, families voted Conservative or Liberal, and, in the words of W.S. Gilbert, every child was born “either a little Liberal, Or else a little Conservative!” Politics will determine which newspapers the family took, and so, where fulsome obituaries and reports on funerals will be found, as opposed to brief death notices. Most Acadians are thought to vote Liberal; Saint John, the Loyalist City, is still considered a Conservative bastion, but this is not always true. Politics matter, though not as much as they once did, and local protest parties rise and fall in popularity.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors
offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
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