Discover Campbellton, New Brunswick: A Blend of History and Tourism
Campbellton, a city nestled in Restigouche County, New Brunswick, Canada, is a gem waiting to be discovered. Located on the south bank of the Restigouche River, opposite Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec, Campbellton was officially incorporated in 1889 and achieved city status in 1958.
The Economic Landscape of Campbellton, New Brunswick
Forestry and tourism are the lifeblood of Campbellton's regional economy. The city's pulp mill, located in the community of Atholville, is the area's largest single employer. Every summer, the scenic Restigouche Valley attracts wealthy sportfishermen seeking Atlantic salmon, contributing to the thriving tourism industry. The region also boasts extensive annual snowfall, providing ample winter recreation opportunities at Sugarloaf Provincial Park's Alpine and Nordic ski facilities. Campbellton serves as a local retail and service centre, catering to both residents and visitors.
The Evolution of Campbellton, New Brunswick
On 1 January 2023, Campbellton amalgamated with the villages of Atholville and Tide Head, the local service district (LSD) of Glencoe, and parts of four other LSDs. The names of the annexed communities remain in official use.
The Rich History of Campbellton, New Brunswick
The area around Campbellton was settled by French people around 1700, with a trading post based on fishing and fur trading with the Mi'gmaq. The area has had numerous names over the centuries, finally settling on its current name in 1833 in honour of Lieutenant-Governor Sir Archibald Campbell.
The Battle of the Restigouche and Campbellton, New Brunswick
The Battle of the Restigouche, the final naval battle between the English and French for the possession of North America during the Seven Years' War, was waged here in 1760. This marked a turning point for the settlement. Campbellton and Atholville owe their development to enterprising immigrants from Scotland.
From Settlement to Town: The Growth of Campbellton, New Brunswick
Robert Ferguson, considered the founder of Restigouche County, established his control over the development of northern New Brunswick during the first half of the 19th century. The advent of the Intercolonial Railway in 1875, and a permanent railway station in 1876, had a strong impact on Campbellton. Its population increased rapidly, reaching 1,800 in 1891, and development of the settlement shifted westward. In 1889, Campbellton was incorporated as a town.
The Great Fire and the Rebirth of Campbellton, New Brunswick
On 11 July 1910, a disastrous fire sparked by a sawmill on the waterfront destroyed a large portion of the town. The fire was spread throughout the town by flaming shingles. Prior to the fire its population was approaching 4,000 citizens and help came from near and far to provide food and supplies in order to come to their aid. Most of the people had to live in tents while plans to rebuild were being prepared. Campbellton was subsequently rebuilt. In the months and years following the fire, many of the new (now historic) buildings were constructed of brick as Water Street had been designated a "Fire District" where all new buildings had to be built with fireproof exterior walls.
The Growth of the City of Campbellton, New Brunswick
Following the fire, the railway station was moved to Roseberry St. and helped to define Campbellton in its early years. The town was bidding to become the leading commercial center in the North Shore and had three banks, five churches, two schools, 6 hotels and a hospital by the 1920s. At this time Campbellton was seeing upwards of 16 trains a day at the Central Station. In 1928, a pulp mill was built in nearby Atholville which continued to propel the population growth already being experienced. Campbellton was experiencing strong growth as the population grew at a steady rate: 3,817 in 1911, 5,570 in 1921, 6,505 in 1931, 6,714 in 1941, 9,257 in 1949. In 1951, Campbellton opened its new arena, the Memorial Gardens, with an exhibition game featuring the Montreal Canadiens. In 1958, Campbellton was incorporated as a City and its population was approaching 13,000. At this time the construction of the J.C. Van Horne Interprovincial bridge commenced which was designed to facilitate travel between Quebec and Northern New Brunswick. The bridge was completed in 1961 and allowed the cross-river town of Pointe-à-la-Croix to fully integrate itself commercially with the City of Campbellton. The Salmon Festival was inaugurated in 1967 and has been a popular annual week-long event which is enjoyed by tourists and residents alike. Campbellton's city limits were expanded in 1979 when the Richardsville area became part of the city.
Esplanade Restigouche: A New Chapter for Campbellton, New Brunswick
In 2009, Mayor Bruce MacIntosh and Council made significant progress towards restoring the tourism industry in the area and in improving the city's waterfront. They announced that the long-awaited "Esplanade Restigouche" development would finally move forward. This is a three phased project, that began in 2011, that will significantly upgrade the already picturesque waterfront and further cement Campbellton's place as a tourist destination. The Restigouche River Experience Center has been constructed with a Restigouche River Museum and an 86 site RV Park which will help Campbellton in becoming the hub for regional experiential tourism. In 2016, the newly elected mayor, Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin and Council have decided to move towards developing the Atlantic Culinary Institute in conjunction with the CCNB.
The Fire Ship: A Unique Tale from Campbellton, New Brunswick
The history of the City of Campbellton is not complete without mentioning the infamous Phantom Ship known as "Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs". Stories of its appearance include seeing a burning sailing vessel, sometimes a vessel with all its sails set scudding along the water or sometimes a ball of fire or burning vessel on the water's surface or fading out of sight. This is not frequently seen. Some believe it is a ghost ship from the Battle of the Restigouche whereas others believe it is merely caused by heat waves, reflections or hallucinations.
The Geography of Campbellton, New Brunswick
Campbellton is 20 km (12 mi) upstream (west) from the mouth of the Bay des Chaleurs Dalhousie and approximately 100 km (62 mi) northwest of Bathurst. The city is approximately 160 km (99 mi) northeast of St. Leonard in the St. John River valley and approximately the same distance from Mont-Joli, Quebec in the Saint Lawrence River valley. Campbellton was settled by the Scottish including surrounding area like Balmoral, Glencoe, and Glenlevit.
The Demographics of Campbellton, New Brunswick
In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Campbellton had a population of 7,047 living in 3,254 of its 3,531 total private dwellings, a change of 2.4% from its 2016 population of 6,883. With a land area of 18.57 km2 (7.17 sq mi), it had a population density of 379.5/km2 (982.9/sq mi) in 2021.
The Arts and Culture Scene in Campbellton, New Brunswick
The Restigouche Caledonian Society has been in Campbellton since 1898, the society was formed for the purpose of offering relief and assistance to distressed Scotsmen. The First President of the society was also The First Mayor of Campbellton John McAlister. To display the history of the city and the battle of the Restigouche, Riverside Park is home to two cannons used in the battle; one with three fleurs-de-lys on the barrel and the other with what appears to be stylized anchors. These are French naval guns from a five gun battery erected during the battle at Battery Point on the Quebec side of the river. When the Busteed family received a land grant at Battery Point, circa 1790, they found at least three cannons at the old battery site. One cannon was built into the fireplace of their home, called Bordeaux House, and two others were given to relatives across the river at Athol House in Atholville. For many years the two cannons outside Athol House were fired on ceremonial occasions. After Athol House burned, the guns lay on the riverbank until donated to the City of Campbellton in 1898. The park also features two monuments donated to the City displaying the names of local soldiers who died in battle during World War I and World War II.The Restigouche Gallery is local gallery and functions as a centre in the cultural program of the region. It has been host to major exhibitions from the N.B. Museum on a travelling basis in hopes that the gallery will eventually join the Atlantic Provinces Art Circuit as a participatory member. The gallery displays a tricultural permanent exhibition highlighting the cultural strength of the region bringing to the forefront Campbellton's diverse roots through its heritage Mi'gmaqs, Scottish and the French & Acadians heritage.
Annual Events in Campbellton, New Brunswick
The city hosts multiple annual special events which include Sno-Fest in February, Salmon Fest which runs from late June to early July, the Bluegrass Festival which takes place in September, and the Harvest Festival in the fall. Other efforts to increase tourism include an 8.5 metres (28 feet) salmon statue made of stainless steel. Restigouche Sam, as the statue was christened, was donated to the city to honour Campbellton's historical connection with the "salmon-rich" Restigouche River. Several murals have also been created to beautify the city. In 2017, Campbellton celebrated the 50th Anniversaries for both the Salmon Festival as well as its Centennial Library.
Transportation in Campbellton, New Brunswick
The Campbellton station is served by Via-Rail's train "The Ocean" which travels the Montreal-Halifax route three times a week.Major bus services include Maritime Bus in Campbellton, and Orléans Express across the river in Pointe-à-la-Croix.There is also a summertime tour bus which makes its way downtown. Multiple taxi companies provide the city and outskirts with taxi service 24 hours a day.The J. C. Van Horne Bridge connects Campbellton to the province of Quebec. Route 11 provides a major highway connection to other major centres in the northern part of the province such as Bathurst and Miramichi, as well as providing a link to Moncton, and the Trans-Canada Highway. Travelling west, this highway becomes Route 17 at the Tide Head - Matapédia exit, which is the only highway which connects the North Shore to the northwestern part of the province. Campbellton is about 20 minutes away by car from Charlo Airport, which is not served by any scheduled commercial flights. The city is also located within just over an hour's drive of Bathurst Airport, which offers Air Canada flights to Montreal.
The Climate of Campbellton, New Brunswick
Campbellton has a cold, wet and snowy humid continental climate (Dfb) with vast seasonal temperature differences, although summers are somewhat moderated by its proximity to the cold waters of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Moderation is nearly non-existent in winter, as prevailing wind from the interior cause temperatures to often plummet below −20 °C (−4 °F).