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.