Discover Minto, New Brunswick: A Historical and Tourism Perspective
Minto, New Brunswick, is a captivating community nestled on the boundary of Sunbury County and Queens County in Canada. It's situated on the north shore of Grand Lake, approximately 50 kilometres northeast of Fredericton. Minto was a village until 2023 when it was amalgamated into the newly-formed village of Grand Lake.
The Origin of Minto, New Brunswick
The community of Minto adopted its name in 1904, coinciding with the retirement of Canada's eighth Governor General, The Earl of Minto. The story goes that the village took its name from the local Minto Hotel. A letter sent from Moncton to Mr. Kennedy was enclosed in an envelope bearing the name of the Minto hotel. The family found Minto to be a fitting name for their hotel, and the name was subsequently adopted by the village and the railway.
The Rich History of Minto, New Brunswick
The history of Minto is deeply intertwined with the Grand Lake Coal Mining industry. The industry's roots trace back to the 1630s when French settlers, known as Acadians, discovered surface deposits of coal in the Coal Creek area, now called Chipman, NB. The French used coal in their fort at the mouth of the Saint John river and began selling coal to the British colony in Boston, USA, in 1639. This trade marked the First Export of Coal in America, a National Historic Event recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Parks Canada.
Unlike most places in Canada, Minto did not feel the depression in the same way. During the recession and the Great Depression, Minto was profiting from a coal mining boom. However, by the late 1930s, the coal industry brought starvation and disease to the impoverished community, as stated in the United Mine Workers' Journal of 1937.
The Amalgamation of Minto, New Brunswick, and Surrounding Communities
On 1 January 2023, Minto was amalgamated with the village of Chipman and parts of five local service districts to form the new village of Grand Lake. The amalgamation was met with protests from the villages of Minto and Chipman, fearing the loss of provincial funding and the potential merging of health clinics, schools, and fire stations.
The Coal Mining Industry in Minto, New Brunswick
The coal mining industry brought the railway to Minto, making the area "the most prosperous place in Canada." The New Brunswick Central Railway ended at Chipman and was planned to be extended through the village to Fredericton, connecting with the Canadian Pacific railway. Although the railway lines through Minto have since been removed, the railway station continues as a local museum. Coal mining in Minto ended in 2010 with the closure of the last coal mining company, NB Coal.
Minto, New Brunswick: Home to a World War II Internment Camp
During the Second World War, the largest internment camp in eastern Canada was located in the hamlet of Ripples, 10 km west of Minto. The camp was initially home to German and Austrian Jews and other anti-fascist refugees who had fled the Nazis to England. The camp later housed German prisoners of war and Canadian fascist Adrien Arcand. Today, the internment camp is a protected site visited by tourists, with a small museum dedicated to the camp located within Minto's municipal building.
The Climate and Demographics of Minto, New Brunswick
In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Minto had a population of 2,234 living in 1,043 of its 1,145 total private dwellings, a change of -3.1% from its 2016 population of 2,305. With a land area of 31.36 km2 (12.11 sq mi), it had a population density of 71.2/km2 (184.5/sq mi) in 2021.
Recreational Activities in Minto, New Brunswick
Despite its small size, Minto offers a variety of recreational activities. It boasts the Minto Centennial Arena, lighted and unlighted ball parks, two family parks, nature trails, mountain bike trails, and hunting and fishing resources. Each year, Minto hosts two festivals: the Minto Coal Mining Festival in June–July and the Santa Claus Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony in November–December. The town also hosts an annual mountain bike race known as 'The Coal Miner's Lung'.