Great Canadian Parks / New Brunswick

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The Parks / New Brunswick / Fundy National Park

While we know the Micmac and Malicite peoples inhabited the region, there has been little archaeological evidence to indicate any permanent native settlements in the area which is now Fundy National Park. Even the early European settlers to New Brunswick seemed to have avoided the thin, rocky soils here until the early 1800's, when the vast tracts of tall red spruce and balsam fir beckoned to the forest industry. At the Park's northern boundary, the Shepody Road, also known as the Immigrants Road, was the main route between the bustling port of St John and the rich farmland around Moncton. A few homesteaders cleared land for agricultural use, although it was inhospitable farmland at best. The luckier settlers managed to move down to the coastal areas.

 

The primary industry was logging. Fuelled by the building boom for a growing population in St John, and the burgeoning ship building industry of the East Coast, the demand for lumber was high. Dozens of portable and stationary sawmills were erected. Log dams were built on the Point Wolfe, Upper Salmon and Goose Rivers at the head-of- tide; 'log brows' and 'slideways' were cut into the steep slopes to roll the logs into the rivers. The mouth of the Point Wolfe River was a perfect location for a lumber mill and the town was founded in 1826. The settlement of Salmon River, now called Alma, was started by a group of squatters about the same time, but within a decade it, too, was an established community, its numbers bolstered by the influx of Irish immigrants in the 1840's.

 

Logging and shipbuilding were closely intertwined throughout the 1800's. Trees provide raw material for ships, and ships provided transport for lumber. Alma's shipyard was responsible for the construction of 20 schooners, barques and brigantines in the last half of the century - a relatively small operation compared with the major yards elsewhere on the Bay, but significant to this area.

 

Alma's shipyards fell quiet in 1889 due to a global merchant marine depression. It experienced a short-lived renaissance during the First World War but failed to keep up with advances in shipbuilding technology. As well, its seemingly inexhaustible supply of lumber was dwindling. The homesteaders left for better opportunities in Canada's west.

 

The Federal Government began looking for a national park site on the Fundy coast in the early 1930's. A few small farms and settlements at Hastings, Alma and Point Wolfe, were expropriated to create the Park, work began in 1948, and Fundy National Park was opened to the public in 1952.

 

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