The Isthmus of Chignecto is an isthmus bordering the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that connects the Nova Scotia peninsula with North America.
An isthmus is a narrow piece of land connecting two larger areas across an expanse of water by which they are otherwise separated. A tombolo is an isthmus that consists of a spit or bar, and a strait is the sea counterpart of an isthmus.
New Brunswick is one of four Atlantic provinces on the east coast of Canada. According to the Constitution of Canada, New Brunswick is the only bilingual province. About two thirds of the population declare themselves anglophones and a third francophones. One third of the overall population describe themselves as bilingual. Atypically for Canada, only about half of the population lives in urban areas, mostly in Greater Moncton, Greater Saint John and the capital Fredericton.
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada's ten provinces, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2016, the population was 923,598. Nova Scotia is Canada's second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (45/sq mi).
The isthmus separates the waters of Chignecto Bay, a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy, from those of Baie Verte, a sub-basin of the Northumberland Strait that is an arm of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The isthmus stretches from its northerly point at an area in the Petitcodiac River valley near the city of Dieppe, New Brunswick to its southerly point at an area near the town of Amherst, Nova Scotia. At its narrowest point between Amherst and Tidnish, the isthmus measures 24 kilometres wide. Because of its strategic position, it has been important to competing forces through much of its history of occupation.
Chignecto Bay is an inlet of the Bay of Fundy located between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and separated from the waters of the Northumberland Strait by the Isthmus of Chignecto. It is a unit within the greater Gulf of Maine Watershed. Chignecto Bay forms the northeastern part of the Bay of Fundy which splits at Cape Chignecto and is delineated on the New Brunswick side by Martin Head. Chignecto bay was also the site of an unsuccessful railway and canal project of the 1880s and 1890s that would have intersected the landmass, thereby providing a transit passage between New England and Prince Edward Island. After several investigations into the feasibility of a new canal project, including most importantly by the Chignecto Canal Commission, the proposed Chignecto Canal was deemed commercially and economically unjustifiable and the project was abandoned. Some of the physical remnants of the 1880s project still continue to dot the landscape of Chignecto Bay today.
The Bay of Fundy is a bay between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the US state of Maine. It has an extremely high tidal range.
The Northumberland Strait is a strait in the southern part of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in eastern Canada. The strait is formed by Prince Edward Island and the gulf's eastern, southern and western shores.
The name "Chignecto" derives from the Mi'kmaq name Siknikt, meaning "drainage place"; the name of the Mi'kmaq District where the isthmus is located.
The majority of the lands comprising the isthmus have low elevation above sea level; a large portion comprises the Tantramar Marshes, as well as tidal rivers, mud flats, inland freshwater marshes, coastal saltwater marshes, and mixed forest. Several prominent ridges rise above the surrounding low land and marshes along the Bay of Fundy shore, namely the Fort Lawrence Ridge (in Nova Scotia), the Aulac Ridge, the Sackville Ridge, and the Memramcook Ridge (in New Brunswick).
The Tantramar Marshes also known as the Tintamarre National Wildlife Area is a tidal saltmarsh around the Bay of Fundy on the Isthmus of Chignecto. The area borders between Route 940, Route 16 and Route 2 near Sackville, New Brunswick.
In contrast to the Bay of Fundy shoreline in the west, the Northumberland Strait shoreline in the east is largely forested, with serpentine tidal estuaries such as the Tidnish River penetrating inland. The narrowest point on the Northumberland shoreline is opposite the Cumberland Basin at Baie Verte. If sea levels were to rise by 12 meters, the isthmus would be flooded, effectively making mainland Nova Scotia an island.
An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea.
The Tidnish River is a short Canadian river on the Isthmus of Chignecto along the interprovincial boundary with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Cumberland Basin is an inlet and northeasternmost part of the Bay of Fundy, located on the border between the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
As the Isthmus of Chignecto was a key surface transportation route since the 17th century, French and later British colonists built military roads across it to the Tantramar Marshes and along the strategic ridges.
In 1872, the Intercolonial Railway of Canada constructed a mainline between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick across the southern portion of the isthmus. It skirted the edge of the Bay of Fundy while crossing the Tantramar Marshes between Amherst, Nova Scotia and Sackville, New Brunswick.
Moncton is the largest city in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Situated in the Petitcodiac River Valley, Moncton lies at the geographic centre of the Maritime Provinces. The city has earned the nickname "Hub City" due to its central inland location in the region and its history as a railway and land transportation hub for the Maritimes.
Amherst is a town in northwestern Nova Scotia, Canada. Amherst is located at the northeast end of the Cumberland Basin, an arm of the Bay of Fundy, at 22 km south of the Northumberland Strait. Amherst is situated on the eastern boundary of the Tantramar Marshes 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) east of the interprovincial border with New Brunswick and 65 kilometres (40 mi) southeast of the city of Moncton. It is 60 kilometres (37 mi) southwest of the New Brunswick abutment of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island at Cape Jourimain. Amherst is the county seat and largest population centre in the Cumberland region.
Sackville is a town in southeastern New Brunswick, Canada. It is home to Mount Allison University, a primarily undergraduate liberal arts university. Historically based on agriculture, shipbuilding, and manufacturing, the economy is now driven by the university and tourism. Initially part of the French colony of Acadia, the settlement became part of the British colony of Nova Scotia in 1755 following the Expulsion of the Acadians.
In 1886 a railway line was built from Sackville across the isthmus to Port Elgin and on to Cape Tormentine. The latter was a port for the iceboat service. In 1917 Canadian National Railways established a rail ferry service to Prince Edward Island to connect with the Prince Edward Island Railway.
In the mid-1880s, the isthmus was also the site of one of Canada's earliest mega-projects: construction of a broad-gauge railway from the port of Amherst to the Northumberland Strait at Tidnish for carrying small cargo and passenger ships. This ship railway was never successfully operational, and construction was abandoned shortly before completion.
In the 1950s, while construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway was underway, a group of industrialists and politicians from the Maritimes called for a Chignecto Canal to be built as a shortcut for ocean-going ships travelling between Saint John and U.S. ports to the Great Lakes to avoid travelling around Nova Scotia. The project, while endorsed by the both the second Flemming government of New Brunswick and the Robichaud government that succeeded it, never progressed beyond the survey stage.
In the early 1960s, the Trans-Canada Highway was built on the isthmus to connect with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Route 2 in New Brunswick and Highway 104 in Nova Scotia were built parallel to the existing Canadian National Railway trackage; this inter-provincial highway was upgraded to a 4-lane expressway in the 1990s. Route 16 in New Brunswick was built from an interchange with Route 2 in Aulac to the ferry terminal at Cape Tormentine. This was subsequently modified in 1997 to connect with the Confederation Bridge at Cape Jourimain.
The first European settlements on the isthmus were French. The isthmus was the location of a growing Acadian farming community called Beaubassin. The isthmus became in 1713 the site of the historic dividing line between the British colony of Nova Scotia and the French territory. French military forces established Fort Beauséjour on the Aulac Ridge in 1749 in response to the British construction of an outpost called Fort Lawrence on the ridge immediately to the east.
Between the two ridges was a tidal stream called the Missaquash River, which France generally accepted to be the boundary between the territories. The powers had never determined and agreed to an official boundary. France also constructed Fort Gaspereau on the shores of the Northumberland Strait to effectively control travel on the isthmus.
During King William's War, the first of the four French and Indian Wars, the English colonial militia leader Benjamin Church led a devastating raid on the Isthmus of Chignecto at Beaubassin, in retaliation for an earlier French and native raid against Pemaquid, Maine (present day Bristol, Maine) earlier that year.Church and four hundred men (50 to 150 of whom were Indians, likely Iroquois) arrived offshore of Beaubassin on September 20. They managed to get ashore and surprise the Acadians. Many fled while one confronted Church with papers showing they had signed an oath of allegiance in 1690 to the English king.
Church was unconvinced. He burned a number of buildings, killed inhabitants, looted their household goods, and slaughtered their livestock. Governor Villebon reported that
"the English stayed at Beaubassin nine whole days without drawing any supplies from their vessels, and even those settlers to whom they had shown a pretence of mercy were left with empty houses and barns and nothing else except the clothes on their backs."
Major Church returned to Acadia during Queen Anne's War, in retaliation for the French and their Abenaki allies' sorties during the Northeast Coast Campaign (1703) and the Raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts. They killed many English colonists at Deerfield and took more than 100 captive. The captives were mostly women and children; they were forced on an overland march from western Massachusetts to Montreal. Some were held by the Indians for ransom, as raiding was active on both sides. Others were adopted by Mohawk families at the Catholic village south of the French city. Some adults, such as the minister of Deerfield, were redeemed by their communities or families paying ransom, but the process sometimes took years. His daughter Emily, adopted when a young teenager, never returned to live with her English family, as she married a Mohawk man and having a family with him.
On July 17, 1704 Church raided Chignecto. The Acadian settlers returned some gunfire but quickly sought shelter in the woods. Church burned 40 empty houses and killed more than 200 cattle and other livestock.
On this campaign against Acadia, Church also raided Castine, Maine, Grand Pré, and Pisiguit (present-day Windsor/Falmouth).
The British took control of present-day mainland Nova Scotia under the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), and Beaubassin became part of British territory.
During King George's War, the French used Chignecto as the staging area for their raids on British Nova Scotia. It was the gathering place for De Ramezay prior to the Siege of Annapolis Royal (1744).Chignecto was also the base of Coulon de Valliers prior to the Battle of Grand Pre (1747).
During Father Le Loutre's War, conflict in Acadia continued. On September 18, 1749, several Mi'kmaq and Maliseet killed three Englishmen at Chignecto. Seven natives were also killed in the skirmish.
In May 1750, Lawrence was unsuccessful in getting a base at Chignecto because Le Loutre burned the village of Beaubassin, preventing Lawrence from using its supplies to establish a fort. (According to the historian Frank Patterson, the Acadians at Cobequid also burned their homes as they retreated from the British to Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia in 1754.) Lawrence retreated, but he returned in September 1750.
On September 3, Rous, Lawrence and Gorham led over 700 men to Chignecto, where Mi’kmaq and Acadians opposed their landing. They killed twenty British, who in turn killed several Mi’kmaq. Le Loutre's militia eventually withdrew, burning the rest of the Acadians' crops and houses as they went.Le Loutre and the Acadian militia leader Joseph Broussard resisted the British assault. The British troops defeated the resistance and began construction of Fort Lawrence near the site of the ruins of Beaubassin. The work on the fort proceeded rapidly and they completed the facility within weeks. To limit the British to peninsular Nova Scotia, the French also began to fortify the Chignecto and its approaches; they constructed Fort Beauséjour and two satellite forts: one at present-day Port Elgin, New Brunswick (Fort Gaspareaux) and the other at present-day Saint John, New Brunswick (Fort Menagoueche).
During these months, 35 Mi'kmaq and Acadians ambushed Ranger Captain Francis Bartelo, killing him and six of his men while taking seven others captive. The Mi'kmaq conducted ritual torture of the captives throughout the night, which had a chilling effect on the New Englanders.
The British retaliated for the Raid on Dartmouth (1751) by sending several armed companies to Chignecto. They killed a few French defenders and breached the dikes, allowing the low lands to flood. Hundreds of acres of crops were ruined, which was disastrous for the Acadians and the French troops.In the summer of 1752, Father Le Loutre went to Quebec and then on to France to raise funds and supplies to re-build the dikes. He returned in the spring of 1753.
In May 1753, Natives scalped two British soldiers at Fort Lawrence.
A British fleet of three warships and thirty-three transports, carrying 2,100 soldiers from Boston, Massachusetts, landed at Fort Lawrence on June 3, 1755. They attacked Fort Beauséjour the following day. The French forces abandoned Fort Gaspareaux on June 16, 1755, choosing instead to re-garrison at Fortress Louisbourg. This battle proved to be one of the key victories for the British in the Seven Years' War, in which Great Britain gained control of all of New France and Acadia.
On the isthmus, the British abandoned Fort Lawrence and took over the better-constructed Fort Beauséjour, which they renamed Fort Cumberland. Shortly afterwards, the Great Upheaval began when British forces started rounding up French settlers during the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755). Most of these settlers would be deported, with their villages burned behind them to prevent their return.
During the French and Indian War, at Fort Moncton (formerly Fort Gaspareaux), one of Captain Silvaus Cobb’s soldiers was shot from his horse and killed in an ambush. Cobb assembled 100 troops but was unable to catch the Mi’kmaq. Monckton dispatched 200 men from Fort Lawrence but was also unsuccessful in catching any Mi’kmaq.
On September 15, Majors Jedediah Prebleand Benjamin Coldthwait took 400 men to destroy an Acadian village a short distance outside of Fort Monckton.
On January 20, Boishébert sent François Boucher de Niverville to Baie Verte to burn a British schooner. Niverville killed seven soldiers and took one prisoner before burning the ship. Meanwhile, Boishébert and his 120 Acadians and Mi’kmaq tried to set up a siege of Fort Cumberland, but ended up escaping capture in a possible ambush.
The Mi'kmaq and Acadians attacked Fort Cumberland on April 26, 1756. During the following two days, nine British soldiers were killed and scalped.
When Boishébert moved against Fort Monckton, the British abandoned it and burned it to the ground so that it could not be used by the French.
On July 20, 1757, Mi’kmaq captured two of Gorham’s rangers outside Fort Cumberland.
On September 6, Monckton directed Lt. Colonel Hunt Walsh to take the 28th regiment and a company of rangers to Baie Verte to burn what was left of it. When they arrived, it was already vacated.
In 1758 Governor Lawrence issued a proclamation inviting New Englanders to come to Nova Scotia, settle on vacated Acadian lands, and take up free land grants. He also extended the invitation to New England soldiers serving in Canada whose enlistments had expired and who were planning on returning home. Such settlers became known as the New England Planters. Following the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, the British created three 100,000-acre (400 km²) townships on the isthmus: Amherst, Sackville and Cumberland, which would later be dissolved into Cumberland County.
The drive to attract settlers from New England was not immediately successful. After a few small groups arrived in 1760 and 1761, some families returned home, and the British government decided to look elsewhere for settlers. Between 1772 and 1775, more than 20 ships arrived from England, carrying upwards of 1,000 settlers from Yorkshire to the new townships. The descendants of the Yorkshire emigration continue to be prominent in the area's development and history.
In October and November 1776, local guerrilla and colonial American forces led by Jonathan Eddy and John Allan attempted to take over Fort Cumberland and the Tantramar region. Eddy's attacking force consisted of "about twenty" Americans from Machias, Maine, 27 Yankee settlers from the Saint John River valley, 140 Malisseet and four Mi'kmaq, 21 Acadians from the Memramcook Valley and the Allen family farm, and about 120 farmers from Cumberland, Onslow, and Pictou.Eddy had insufficient forces to capture the fort in a direct assault so he besieged the fort instead. Rebel sympathizers from Sackville burned some surrounding buildings. After three weeks, British forces dispatched from Halifax and Windsor routed the invaders.
The British burned eight of the rebel Acadians' houses and barns at Inverma Farm, Jolicoeur. With winter coming rapidly, the Acadians were forced to relocate with their families to Memramcook.Eddy, Allan and many of the other English-speaking rebels were also expelled from Nova Scotia, but the American colonial government rewarded their efforts with land grants in Maine and Ohio.
Beaubassin was an important Acadian village and trading centre on the Isthmus of Chignecto in what is now Nova Scotia, Canada. The area was a significant place in the geopolitical struggle between the British and French empires. It was established in the 1670s on an upland close to an extensive area of saltwater marsh. Settlers reclaimed the land to engage in cattle ranching and trade.
Fort Beauséjour is a large five-bastioned star fort on the Isthmus of Chignecto, a neck of land connecting present-day New Brunswick with Nova Scotia, Canada. The site was strategically important in Acadia, a French colony that included parts of what is now Quebec, The Maritimes, and northern Maine. It was built by the French from 1751 to 1752. It was surrendered to the British in 1755 after the Battle of Fort Beauséjour and renamed Fort Cumberland. The fort played an important role in the Anglo-French rivalry of 1749-63 and in the 1776 Battle of Fort Cumberland when sympathisers of the American Revolution were repulsed.
Fort Lawrence was a British fort built during Father Le Loutre's War and located on the Isthmus of Chignecto.
The Battle of Fort Beauséjour was fought on the Isthmus of Chignecto and marked the end of Father Le Loutre's War and the opening of a British offensive in the Acadia/ Nova Scotia theatre of the Seven Years' War, which would eventually lead to the end of the French Empire in North America. The battle also reshaped the settlement patterns of the Atlantic region, and laid the groundwork for the modern province of New Brunswick.
Fort Gaspareaux was a French fort at the head of Baie Verte near the mouth of the Gaspareaux River and just southeast of the modern village of Port Elgin, New Brunswick, Canada, on the Isthmus of Chignecto. It was built during Father Le Loutre's War and is now a National Historic Site of Canada overlooking the Northumberland Strait.
Joseph Broussard (1702–1765), also known as Beausoleil, was a leader of the Acadian people in Acadia; later Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. Broussard organized a Mi'kmaq and Acadian militias against the British through King George's War, Father Le Loutre's War and during the French and Indian War. After the loss of Acadia to the British, he eventually led the first group of Acadians to southern Louisiana in present-day United States. His name is sometimes presented as Joseph Gaurhept Broussard; this is likely the result of a transcription error. Broussard is widely regarded as a hero and an important historical figure by both Acadians and Cajuns.
Charles Deschamps de Boishébert was a member of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine and was a significant leader of the Acadian militia's resistance to the Expulsion of the Acadians. He settled and tried to protect Acadians refugees along the rivers of New Brunswick. At Beaubears National Park on Beaubears Island, New Brunswick he settled refugee Acadians during the Expulsion of the Acadians.
The Acadians are the descendants of the French settlers, and sometimes the Indigenous peoples, of parts of Acadia in the northeastern region of North America comprising what is now the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, a Gaspé, in Quebec, and to the Kennebec River in southern Maine.
Aulac is a Canadian community in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. It is located near the larger town of Sackville by the provincial border with Nova Scotia.
The Missaguash River is a small Canadian river that forms the southern portion of the inter-provincial boundary between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on the Isthmus of Chignecto. It had historic significance in the 18th century as the de facto border between French and English-controlled territories.
Fort Lawrence is a Canadian rural community located on the Isthmus of Chignecto in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, which is named after Fort Lawrence.
Abbé Jean-Louis Le Loutre was a Catholic priest and missionary for the Paris Foreign Missions Society. Le Loutre became the leader of the French forces and the Acadian and Mi'kmaq militias during King George's War and Father Le Loutre’s War in the eighteenth-century struggle for power between the French, Acadians, and Mi'kmaq against the British over Acadia.
LaPlanche Street is the historic connector between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada. Located on the Isthmus of Chignecto, LaPlanche crosses the Tantramar Marshes between Amherst, NS and Sackville, NB. Historically, it hosted the key forts of peninsular Nova Scotia and continental Acadia and witnessed the Battle of Fort Beauséjour, the key battle between the two colonies during the Seven Years' War, and the Battle of Fort Cumberland of the American Revolutionary War.
The Bay of Fundy Campaign occurred during the French and Indian War when the British ordered the Expulsion of the Acadians from Acadia after the Battle of Fort Beauséjour (1755). The Campaign started at Chignecto and then quickly moved to Grand Pré, Rivière-aux-Canards, Pisiguit, Cobequid, and finally Annapolis Royal. Approximately 7,000 Acadians were deported to the New England colonies.
Father Le Loutre's War (1749–1755), also known as the Indian War, the Micmac War and the Anglo-Micmac War, took place between King George's War and the French and Indian War in Acadia and Nova Scotia. On one side of the conflict, the British and New England colonists were led by British Officer Charles Lawrence and New England Ranger John Gorham. On the other side, Father Jean-Louis Le Loutre led the Mi'kmaq and the Acadia militia in guerrilla warfare against settlers and British forces.
The Acadian Exodus happened during Father Le Loutre's War (1749–1755) and involved almost half of the total Acadian population of Nova Scotia deciding to relocate to French controlled territories. The three primary destinations were: the west side of the Mesagoueche River in the Chignecto region, Isle Saint-Jean and Île-Royale. The leader of the Exodus was Father Jean-Louis Le Loutre, whom the British gave the code name "Moses". Le Loutre acted in conjunction with Governor of New France Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière who encouraged the Acadian migration. A prominent Acadian who transported Acadians to Ile St. Jean and Ile Royal was Joseph-Nicolas Gautier. The overall upheaval of the early 1750s in Nova Scotia was unprecedented. Present-day Atlantic Canada witnessed more population movements, more fortification construction, and more troop allocations than ever before in the region. Along with Acadians, Mi'kmaq and Foreign Protestants joined in the Exodus from Nova Scotia. The greatest immigration of the Acadians between 1749 and 1755 took place in 1750. Primarily due to natural disasters and British raids, the Exodus proved to be unsustainable when Acadians tried to develop communities in the French territories.
Fort Menagoueche was a French fort at the mouth of the St. John River, New Brunswick, Canada. French Officer Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot and Ignace-Philippe Aubert de Gaspé built the fort during Father Le Loutre's War and eventually burned it themselves as the French retreated after losing the Battle of Beausejour. It was reconstructed as Fort Frederick by the British.
The Battle at Chignecto happened during Father Le Loutre's War and was fought by 700 troops made up of British regulars led by Charles Lawrence, Horatio Gates, Rangers led by John Gorham and Captain John Rous led the navy. This battle was the first attempt by the New Englanders to occupy the head of the Bay of Fundy since the disastrous Battle of Grand Pré three years earlier. They fought against a militia made up of Mi'kmaq and Acadians led by Jean-Louis Le Loutre and Joseph Broussard (Beausoliel). The battle happened at Isthmus of Chignecto, Nova Scotia on 3 September 1750.
Jean Baptiste Cope was also known as Major Cope, a title he was probably given from the French military, the highest rank given to Mi’kmaq. Cope was the sakamaw (chief) of the Mi'kmaq people of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. He maintained close ties with the Acadians along the Bay of Fundy, speaking French and being Catholic. During Father Le Loutre’s War, Cope participated in both military efforts to resist the British and also efforts to create peace with the British. During the French and Indian War he was at Miramichi, New Brunswick, where he is presumed to have died during the war. Cope is perhaps best known for signing the Treaty of 1752 with the British, which was upheld in the Supreme Court of Canada in 1985 and is celebrated every year along with other treaties on Treaty Day.
Acadian militias were units of Acadian part-time soldiers who fought in coordination with the Wabanaki Confederacy and French forces during the colonial period, to defend Acadia against encroachment by the English. Some other Acadians provided military intelligence, sanctuary, and logistical support to the resistance movement. The Acadian militias achieved effective resistance for more than 75 years and through six wars before their eventual demise. According to Acadian historian Maurice Basque, the story of Evangeline continues to influence historic accounts of the deportation, emphasising neutral Acadians and de-emphasising those who resisted the British. While Acadian militia was briefly active during the American Revolution, the militias were dormant throughout the nineteenth century. After confederation, Acadians eventually joined the Canadian War efforts in World War I and World War II. The most well-known colonial leaders of these militias were Joseph Broussard and Joseph-Nicolas Gautier.