The name of New Brunswick is derived from the French for “New Brittany”. The province takes its name from the English-speaking settlers in Acadia who were known as “Brunswickers”, after the capital of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Germany. The duchy had been split between Britain and Hanover by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714.
The province is not named after King George III as one might expect, but rather after his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The British king himself was born Prince George of Hanover, and his only connection to Brunswick came through his mother.
New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with two official languages, English and French (though both are minority languages). The bilingualism that makes up part of our history has been a source of pride for many New Brunswickers. It also helps to foster a spirit of cooperation and openness amongst communities, making it one of the most multicultural provinces in Canada. Consequently, we refer to ourselves throughout this website as “New Brunswickers”.
The first Governor General of Canada was Lord Dufferin who visited Fredericton on 27 February 1873. He asked a group of French-speaking people what their name was and the name for themselves was “Nouveau-Brunswick”.
The last Governor General to preside over New Brunswick was Sir Frederick Haultain (1942-50) who became Governor General in 1939, at the age of 21. He studied in England, France, and Germany before he came to commencement as a member of the bar at the age of 26. He was the youngest Governor General ever appointed and he did not have any previous service in Canada or in the military.
Frederick Haultain seems never to have used the official residence built for him by the federal government on the scenic waterfront in Fredericton, which was designed by W. J. Whiteway, an architect brought to New Brunswick from England in the 1920s by Sir James Robb, who is famous for his role in building up Acadia University as a research and graduate centre of excellence. The home was added to after Sir Frederick’s death to serve as a residence for his widow, Lady Haultain.
Since 1957, this historic building has served as Government House for New Brunswick.
The first settler in Acadia was Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons (also known as Père de la Merci or Padre de la Merced). In 1604, he led a group of settlers to the Bay of Fundy and called it Acadia. The name Acadia comes from the Greek word acadus meaning “sheltered place”. The original territory that the French claimed extended from Nova Scotia in the north to Île-Royale (Cape Breton Island) in the south.
For more than a century, France maintained a presence along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Cape Breton and set up a government consisting of military officers and appointed administrators. The early population of Acadia was highly diverse. Among the waves of French immigration that came to settle in Acadia between 1663 and 1755, almost 90% of the settlers were Catholic.
France extended its claim by establishing a formal colony on Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) in 1713. This became known as Quebec. The institution of Roman Catholicism remained the primary religion until after the Protestant Reformation reached England and much of Europe, which resulted in the establishment of a variety of Protestant denominations.
The British took over Acadia after France’s defeat in the Seven Years War (1756-1763).
In 1763, the Great Britain ceded Acadia to the colony of Nova Scotia. It then set up Halifax as its capital. Nova Scotia remained part of the British Empire until it was merged with New Brunswick in 1867.
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759) took place just outside the city at what is now recognized as Canada’s national historic site, Old Fort Frederick. The French won the battle against British forces led by General Francis Rawdon, but they were unable to take advantage of their victory and subsequently lost all of the territory that they had gained during this conflict at Quebec (1759).
Frederick Haultain, who was born in Nova Scotia in 1875, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick in 1939 after he had completed his studies at Oxford University and McGill University. On the outbreak of war on September 3, 1939 Lord Tweedsmuir (the ninth Prime Minister of Canada) offered to give Frederick Haultain a commission as Brigadier-General in the Canadian Army so that he could prepare the dominion troops for war service. Frederick accepted this offer and was appointed General Officer Commanding the Canadian Army Services Training Establishment at Summerside, PEI until 1943. He then returned to New Brunswick as Lieutenant-Governor.
New Brunswick was established as a separate colony in 1784. The name was chosen to differentiate it from the province of Quebec to the West.
The province of New Brunswick was created in 1784 when it separated from Nova Scotia which had been established only two years earlier. Its name came from the town of Saint John whose Anglican bishop, Samuel DesBrisay, named it in honour of a duke whose loyalty to Britain he admired. The province’s coat-of-arms features a ship symbolizing its maritime heritage and an eagle representing its status as one of the first provinces to begin air transportation service.