The St. John River, with its wide, deep waters, was a key transportation route for Maliseet and Mi’kmaq (Micmac) Indians who hunted, fished, grew corn and squash along its length. The British made various Maritime peace and friendship treaties (between 1725 and 1776) with the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet people which allowed them to hunt and fish, trade with the British, and did not involve the cession of any land. Today, the First Nations reserves for the Maliseet are along the Saint John River, and the reserves for the Mi’kmaq are along the Gulf of St Lawrence coastline.
As the French and English fought over control of the New World, the French eventually gained control of Nova Scotia, which then included the St. John River Valley. Between 1672 and 1700 the French King assigned land grants in what is now the Fredericton area but were abandoned until 1732 when a group of French Acadians, fleeing the British forces who had taken possession of Nova Scotia following the Treaty of Utrecht and creating the community of Ste. Anne’s Point, which was the Capital of Acadia from 1692 to 1698.
British Colonial Period
In 1758, when British Forces captured Louisbourg, the British swept through the St. John River Valley, burning homes and expelling Acadians (to French Louisiana, and the area was gradually resettled by English families over the next few years. Following the American Revolution, in 1783 British Loyalist fled the United States and 34,000 settled in Nova Scotia and 14,000 in New Brunswick, with 2,000 Loyalists around Ste. Anne’s Point. In 1785, renamed the settlement “Frederickstown”, in honour of Prince Frederick, second son of King George III, and shortly thereafter Governor Carleton choose Fredericton as provincial capital. The city’s high school (the oldest in Canada) and the University (tied with University of Georgia as the oldest in North America) were founded that year.