Culture & Heritage

The land along the Wolastoq (Saint John River) has been home to the Wolastoqiyik, “People of the beautiful and bountiful river”, since time immemorial. The Wolastoqey Nation are members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, (People of the Dawn) together with four other First Nations.

The Wolastoqey maintained a migratory lifestyle, living and travelling along the Wolastoq during the warmer time of year, fishing, hunting, foraging, traveling and trading. As the weather turned colder the Wolastoqey migrated further inland for hunting and trapping.

The Fredericton Capital Region is situated within the Wolastoqey traditional territory which was once a seasonal destination for the Wolastoqiyik People, eventually becoming year-round homes to some, with First Nations communities designated by the government in three locations now known as Bilijk (Kingsclear, 1795), Sitansisk (St. Mary’s, 1867), and Welamukotuk (Oromocto, 1895).

In 1692, the first European settlement of the area was established by French fur traders on the Nashwaak and Wolastoq (Saint John) rivers. In 1732, French Acadiens fleeing from the British expulsion, formed another settlement, Pointe-Sainte-Anne, which is believed to have been in what is now downtown Fredericton. Throughout the following decades, the British arrived and pushed the French out of Pointe-Sainte Anne, through violent force and fires. In 1783, more than 2,000 British Loyalists settled what they called St. Anne’s Point (an anglicized version of Pointe-Sainte-Anne), where they formalized plans for a town, and renamed the settlement “Frederick’s Town” in honour of the second son of King George III. In April 1785, the town was designated as the provincial capital, and its name was shortened to Fredericton. On April 25, 1845, Queen Victoria deemed Fredericton a Cathedral City despite the population falling short of the required 10,000 residents, spurring the construction of the landmark Christ Church Cathedral.

Fredericton stood as a city of industry for many years, with a canoe factory, mills, tanneries, carriage and wagon manufacturers, breweries and broom factories. It was in the 20th century that the city’s industries gave way to universities, establishing Fredericton’s educational and cultural focus. In 1945, Gibson (presently Devon) was amalgamated into the City of Fredericton. In 1973, Fredericton amalgamated a number of additional surrounding communities, doubling its area and population. Today, the Fredericton Capital Region extends even further along the Wolastoq (Saint John River), Nashwaak and Oromocto watersheds, encapsulating a vibrant and exciting community of culture, art, education and outdoor adventures. The Fredericton Capital Region history is yours to explore through heritage homes, buildings and tours, galleries, museums, landmarks, medicine walks and natural preserves.