New Brunswick is known as the “forgotten province” of the Maritimes, despite being the gateway to it. Most tourists bypass New Brunswick in their visit of the region, preferring to use the province merely as a thoroughfare to reach the more popular Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. This suits residents just fine, as they value the peace, quiet, and untainted beauty of their home. For this reason, New Brunswick remains largely a secret, an unspoiled land of beautiful rivers, babbling brooks, dramatic coastlines, and historic cities. And which other province can claim two of Canada’s natural wonders – the tides in the Bay of Fundy, and the leaves on the bay’s trees. Twice a day, 115 billion tons of water pour into the funnel-shaped bay, swirling back and forth to create the highest tides in the world measuring 50 feet high. And the trees of New Brunswick put on a spectacular show of color once a year, with their leaves turning to gold, orange, red, and purple in the autumn. Truly, New Brunswick is an exquisite landscape full of scenic beauty that, while unrivaled, remains hidden away and ignored by tourists.
New Brunswick is heavily and thickly forested. In fact, 80% of its 75,000 square kilometer area is covered by trees. It shares a border with Quebec in the north, Maine in the west, and Nova Scotia in the southeast via the Chignecto isthmus. Along the 2,250 kilometers of coastal shores, you’ll find dozens of sandy beaches on warm ocean waters, in addition to hundreds of charming, quaint fishing villages that still adhere to its traditional rural and laid-back character.
Culturally, New Brunswick is much like the rest of Canada – a divide between Francophones and Anglophones. One-third of the people in New Brunswick are Acadians, speak French, and are proud of it. The remaining population is descended from the British Loyalists who fled the United States after the American Revolution; they are very pro-British. This cultural divide is much less severe than in Quebec. But Acadians remain vigilant in holding onto their ancestral roots, celebrating the Feast of the Assumption, among other traditions.
New Brunswick was first inhabited at least 2,000 years ago by the Micmac Indians. The first European to discover the area was French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534. Samuel de Champlain arrived 70 years later and founded a settlement on St. Croix Island. Settlement of the province on the whole was sparse, however, until the early 18th century. In the mid-18th century, the threat of a British invasion mounted. The French responded by building Fort Beausejour in 1751 to protect the settlers. Unfortunately, the fort did not hold up, falling in 1755 to a British attack led by Colonel Moncton. Shortly afterwards, the French-speaking Acadians in the area were deported.
The French were replaced by British Loyalists in 1783. They fled from the American colonies after the British were defeated in the Revolutionary War. Most of them settled in Parrtown, present-day Saint John. The Loyalist population quickly grew the following year, ballooning to 14,000. To accommodate the influx, the province of New Brunswick was established by the British Crown.
In 1785, Saint John became the first city in Canada to be incorporated. Fredericton, however, was designated the capital of the province. In the latter half of the 1780s, Acadians who had been deported some 30 years prior by the British began returning in waves. Today, about one-third of the province’s population, or 250,000 people, are French-speaking. In fact, New Brunswick (and not Quebec) became the first officially-bilingual province in 1969.
Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.
Simpkins, Mary Ann. Canada. New York: Prentice Hall Travel, 1994. ISBN: 0671882783.
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