What to See & Do in Fredericton?
Fredericton lies on the Saint John River, and is the provincial capital. It has a military history going back over 200 years, sits next to the massive CFB Gagetown military base, and just exudes “colonial” charm. It’s also a handy jumping off point for recreation on Grand Lake, frolicking in the Fundy tides, and visiting the many covered bridges in this part of the province.
Fredericton is the capital city of New Brunswick, with a population of 81,000, and lies on the St. John River, and the Trans-Canada Highway, only 100 km from the US border. The city is a a two hour flight from Toronto, and 75 minutes from Montreal.
The major industries in Fredericton reflects the community’s role as the seat of government, though not the province’s largest city. The top industries include government services, education, health & social services, retail trade, and accommodation & hospitality.
Whether it’s a visit to a park, an art gallery or the area’s history, Fredericton offers its visitors and residents lots to do every day of the week.
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.
Fredericton has enjoyed an annual fall fair since 1825. In 1845, Queen Victoria, the head of the Church of England, designated Fredericton a Cathedral City and built the first entirely new Cathedral foundation to be established on British soil since the Norman Conquest of 1066. In 1847, a permanent Maliseet Indian settlement was established on the north side of the St. John River, and in 1848, Fredericton was incorporated as a city.
Following the Quebec Conference and the Charlottetown Conference, New Brunswick was one of the four founding provinces of Canadian Confederation in 1867. After 1850, Fredericton flourished as an industrial town. Sawmills, shipyards, tanneries, boot and shoe factories, carriage shops, iron foundries, brickyards, and factories turned out a variety of products. Railroad connections were established between Fredericton and several other cities.
In 1969, New Brunswick became the first officially bilingual province, and became the only one enshrined as such in the 1982 repatriated Canadian constitution. In 1973, the 125th anniversary of the city’s incorporation, Fredericton amalgamated a number of surrounding communities, doubling its area and population.
The provincial government recently re-aligned Highway 2 shaving an hour off the travel time between Moncton and Fredericton, and completing the twinning of the Trans-Canada in New Brunswick.
Cyclists should stay off the #2 and take the older routes along the banks of the Saint John River, the #105 or the #102, which have wind through charming countryside, have few hills, and pass by a number of beautiful and historic covered bridges. The #102 north of Fredericton Takes you past Kings Landing heritage park and the Mactaquac dam, and you cross the Saint John River in Fredericton and continue along on the #105 past Grand Lake and then switch to the #112 which continues east to Moncton.