New Brunswick is Canada’s only officially-bilingual province, with nearly 1/3 of the people speaking French as their native language. St. John, New Brunswick’s largest city, has roughly 150,000 French speakers out of a population of 750,000.
New Brunswick (NB) borders Quebec to the north, Maine (USA) to the west and Nova Scotia to the east. Prince Edward Island lies off the north-east coast of the province. To the and north is ocean, giving New Brunswick a healthy fishing and tourism industry.
New Brunswick, like Newfoundland and the other two maritime provinces (PEI and Nova Scotia) was settled originally by the Mic-Mac tribe of natives, and the first Europeans to see the land were the Vikings in the 13th Century. The first permanent European settlement was in 1604, when French explorers established a trading camp and, later, a fort.
A large group of French settlers, called “Acadiens”, had firmly established themselves in New Brunswick by the time the British took the maritime provinces from the French in the Treaty of Ulrich. The British demanded that the Acadiens who lived in the Maritimes sign an unconditional oath of loyalty to the King, which the people refused, and so began the Acadien Expulsions from Nova Scotia, many of which arrived in New Brunswick with little more than the clothes on their back. The French population of present-day New Brunswick swelled during the 18th Century, but the American Revolution created a wave of Loyalist English speakers escaping persecution from New England and the province became, unofficially, a bilingual one. The next century was a British one, as British governers were established and British settlers moved in to colonize the region.
In 1867 the original four provinces banded together in Confederation to form the country of Canada.
The dominion tradition of the Loyalist settlers is celebrated, as are the traditions of the Acadiens and the Mic-Mac peoples.
Fredericton, the provincial capital, is an historic city dating back to the early 18th Century. Many of the original buildings can be seen today.