History & Culture


Get to Know New Brunswick, a Province Big on History and Culture

As one of the first provinces, along with Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, to join the Dominion of Canada in 1867, New Brunswick’s long and storied past isn’t just rich in history but in a wide range of cultures as well. This diversity has only increased thanks to immigration to create the vivid and multicultural province we have today. Discover more about our naturally beautiful region.


New Brunswick...

...has a population of around 830,000 people

...is Canada’s only officially bilingual province

...is the largest of the 3 Maritime provinces

...is home to the world’s longest covered bridge

Tourism New Brunswick

Explore the Tourism New Brunswick website to learn more about the province’s unique history and cultures.


Nestled on the east coast of Canada, New Brunswick is surrounded by three provinces and one U.S. state. To the north you’ll find the province of Quebec, to the west the state of Maine, to the south the province of Nova Scotia along with the Bay of Fundy, and to the east, separated by the Northumberland Strait, the province of Prince Edward Island.

As the largest of the three Maritime provinces on the east coast, New Brunswick covers more than 73,000 sq. km (28,000 sq. miles), including 2,000 km (1,400 miles) of coastline that includes warm, sandy beaches to the east and a rugged tide-carved coast to the south.

As you begin heading inland, you’ll find expansive forests, meandering rivers, rolling farmland, and the expansive Appalachian Mountain Range in the north. Scattered throughout the province are New Brunswick’s eight cities: Bathurst, Campbellton, Dieppe, Edmundston, Fredericton (the capital), Miramichi, Moncton, and Saint John. Even here, nature is never far away with plenty of trail systems and green spaces, which gives you the best of urban and rural together.


When Samuel de Champlain and other European explorers began arriving on the shores of what is now New Brunswick in the early 1600s, they were met by the Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) and Mi’kmaq peoples, who inhabited the area and lived along its rivers and coasts for thousands of years. Early French pioneers then arrived and began establishing settlements, with the Maritime region dubbed Acadia.

In the late 1600s and 1700s, conflicts between the French and British Empires led to the region being ceded to Great Britain in 1710. Following the final defeat of the French in 1755, more than 5,000 Acadians were forced into exile by the British, with some escaping to the then remote and relatively uninhabited coastline along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Baie des Chaleurs. Here, Acadian settlements grew and thrived; today, this region is known as the Acadian Peninsula.

In 1783, refugees loyal to the British Crown began to land at the mouth of the St. John River, fleeing persecution in the aftermath of the American Revolution. These refugees were not all British but included German, Dutch, and Black Loyalists. The Black Loyalists included several freed slaves, but a small number of Loyalists brought their slaves with them to New Brunswick.

By 1785, so many refugees had landed and settled at the mouth of the St. John River that the King granted a charter to the new City of Saint John, the first incorporated city in Canada, with the capital of Fredericton established upriver.

Scottish and Irish settlers began to settle in New Brunswick in the early 1800s, including those escaping from the hardships of the Potato Famine. Later immigration included a few hundred Danish settlers in the 1870s and a significant number of Jewish immigrants who came through the Port of Saint John from the 1890s to the beginning of the First World War.

In 1867, New Brunswick joined Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia to form the Dominion of Canada.

To rectify the inequities experienced by the province’s French-speaking population, New Brunswick was officially designated as a bilingual English and French province in 1969.


New Brunswick is proud of its mix of cultures, with the main groups including:

Indigenous Peoples

For thousands of years before the arrival of the Europeans, the land that now makes up New Brunswick was inhabited by the Mi’kmaq, who traditionally live in the northeast, east, and south; the Maliseet, who traditionally live in the north and west; and the Passamaquoddy, who traditionally live in the southwest. All three groups continue to live in and make an important contribution to the province today.

The Acadians

This was the name given to the French-speaking people who settled the Maritimes in the 1600s. They became refugees after the British expelled them in 1755. They gradually returned, today comprising about one-third of New Brunswick’s population – a testament to their determination and love of this region. Their contribution to New Brunswick is felt throughout the province, especially in the southeast, northwest, and northeast.

The British

New Brunswick had been part of the British colony of Nova Scotia until 1784. That year, New Brunswick became a separate colony after thousands of Americans who supported British rule in the United States fled the 13 American colonies. These refugees, called the Loyalists, settled mainly in Saint John, Saint Andrews, Fredericton, and along the St. John River Valley.

Irish and Scots

Many Irish refugees arrived in Saint John and Miramichi, especially in the mid-1800s. A substantial number of Scots immigrated to New Brunswick. Miramichi and Fredericton hold festivals each year in honour of the province’s Irish and Scottish heritages, respectively.


Several immigrant families made their way up the St. John River in the 1870s to establish what was at one time the largest Danish community in Canada. It is today known as New Denmark.


As part of Canada, New Brunswick has experienced immigration on a smaller scale from all over the world and today boasts a varied and increasingly multicultural population. As a result, you’ll find Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, and African Canadian communities in major cities.

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