Kingsclear First Nation is located along the Saint John River, approximately 15 km west of the City of Fredericton, New Brunwsick.
The history of our people, the Maliseet or W∂last∂kwiyik, in the area goes back thousands of years as evidenced by the discovery nearby of a fluted point about 11,000 years old. Prior to establishing ourselves at Kingsclear in 1795, our people lived in a village called Ekwpahak, meaning “Head of the Tide,” which was located a few miles downriver from Kingsclear on the southwest side of the St. John River at what is now called Island View. During the late spring and summer we set up our wigwams on the adjacent island now known as Ekwpahak Island. There we speared salmon, bass and sturgeon, planted corn and gathered medicines and foods including fiddleheads, berries, butternuts, grapes and wild potatoes.
Since the 1730s this village at Ekwpahak had been the seat of our government, and the place where all of our people gathered for annual meetings and celebrations each summer. On both sides of this village were Acadian settlements spread out between St. Anne’s Point (now Fredericton) and French Village (now Kingsclear). Just before the close of the so-called French and Indian War (1755-1760) English soldiers built a fort at the mouth of our river and, according to tradition, attacked and burned our village and church at Ekwpahak in the winter of 1758 about the same time that the Acadian village at St. Anne’s Point was attacked and burned.
In spite of a Royal Proclamation in 1763 which outlawed the surveying and taking of Indian lands without the consent of both the Crown and Indian leaders, English authorities in Halifax granted away over a million acres of our land in 1765 from the mouth of our river to well above Ekwpahak, entirely without our knowledge or consent. Perhaps to avoid revealing how much of our land had been granted away, English authorities in Halifax reserved about 700 acres for us around our village at Ekwpahak (500 on the mainland and over 200 on the island).
The registered population of the Kingsclear First Nation is approximately 981 members, with 692 members residing on-reserve.
Ever since the 1794 sale of our land at Ekwpahak, Kingsclear had been the home of the Maliseet Grand Chief and the seat of the traditional Maliseet government. It had also been the home of the sacred wampum belts that connected our people to the Wabanaki Confederacy and the Great Council Fire at Kahnawake.
The subsequent purchase of nearly half of the reserve at Oromocto by the Government of Canada for Base Gagetown best explains the pressure exerted on these families to relocate to Kingsclear. Ironically, nearly all of the families, mostly Sabattises, Polchieses, Pauls and Atwins, had originally come from Kingsclear several generations earlier.
In anticipation for the move another 500 acres was bought from a neighboring farmer and added to the Kingsclear Reserve in 1947, and the property originally deeded to the French Roman Catholics was bought from the Church.