Top 10 Historical Events in Albert County in Review - #1 The First Europeans

We're going to take the next few weeks to go over the Top Ten Historical Events in Albert County History one-by-one in chronological order. Here is the first: 

Top 10 Historical Events in Albert County in Chronological Order

  1. First European Settlers in 1699. 

    The first non-native people to visit this area were Champlain and Demonts who sailed up the Bay of Fundy into Shepody Bay in 1604. According to legend, Jacques Cartier, while sailing up the coast of the Bay of Fundy exclaimed "Chapeau Dieu", or cap of God, when he saw the peak of Shepody Mountain break through the fog around its base. Below this mountain, the Acadian settlement of Chipody would be founded.

    The Acadians

    The first settlers in Albert County arrived in 1699 from the Annapolis area of Nova Scotia. They were French settlers organized by Pierre Thibodeau, a 67 year old man who wanted to start a new settlement. He chose the area at the base of Shepody Mountain, because of its large fertile marshes, waterways full of fish, and forests full of game. Guillaume Blanchard followed Thibodeau the following year and started a settlement farther north along the Petitcodiac River at what is now Hillsborough. In fact all future Acadian settlements in the area, including those in Moncton and Memramcook, were started because of the first settlement established by Pierre Thibodeau at Shepody.

    The settlers had a hard life in the first few years, clearing land, growing crops, building homes and barns, and finding food. They preserved their food for the winter by digging earth cellars to keep the food cool, as well as by drying and salting meat using salt from evaporated sea water. They also used mill stones to grind the wheat that they grew into flour and used the flour to make bread. In order to keep tide water off of the marsh land, the settlers built dykes to hold the water back. Once the tide water could not flood the marsh it was safe to use the land for farming.

    The community also built a Catholic Church, the first in Albert County, in Hopewell Hill. There was also reported to be another log cabin Church in 1747 at Harvey Bank across the marsh from the Hopewell Hill Church.

    In the following years, the settlements grew as the young families had more children and as more families moved to the area. A 1734 census records shows 65 families in the area and just 16 years later, in 1750, the number of families had risen to 160. The communities would not grow much larger, however, as these Acadians would be expelled from the area in 1755.

  2. The Acadian Expulsion in 1755. Ending 57 years of Acadian colonies in Albert County, this includes the Battle of Petitcodiac, September 4, 1755. The battle was fought between British colonial troops and Acadian resistance fighters led by French Officer Charles Deschamps de Boishébert on September 4, 1755 at the Acadian village of Village-des-Blanchard on the Petitcodiac River (present-day Hillsborough).

  3. Arrival of the Steeves family in 1766.

  4. The founding of the county 1845.

  5. Development of Commercially Viable Kerosene from Albertite by geologist Abraham Gesner in 1846 which led directly to the petroleum age and the modern world and indirectly to saving all the whales. Thanks Albert County!

  6. The Saxby Gale of 1869, which brought untold destruction of property and the loss of a number of lives. 

  7. The Birthplace and Hometown of Canada's 11th Prime Minister RB Bennett (b1870), who founded the Bank of Canada, the CBC and numerous other important Canadian Institutions.

  8. The Tom Collins Axe Murder Triple Trial which directly lead to Canada's Double Jeopardy laws. Double Jeopardy is a procedural defence that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction.

  9. Winning the Victory Loans Competition of 1919 by raising a greater percentage over their set goal than anywhere else in the Province. The county raised $347600.00 with a goal of $110000.00. That's triple the amount! (in today's dollars that is $6.2 million!).

  10. Founding of Fundy National Park in 1948.