New Brunswick, Canada

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New Brunswick is a Maritime province on the east coast of Canada.

It is bordered on the north by the province of Quebec and on the south by Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy. The state of Maine lies to its west. To the east, the Northumberland Strait separates New Brunswick from Prince Edward Island, linked via the Confederation Bridge.

Demographics

Statistics Canada estimates the provincial population in 2007 to be 750,851. New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province. The majority are English-speaking, with a large Francophone minority (35%), chiefly of Acadian origin.

History

Prior to European exploration, three main First Nations occupied present-day New Brunswick: the Mi'Kmaq on the eastern shore, the Passamaquoddy tribe in the southwest, and the Maliseet in the west along the Saint John River (which they named Wolastoq or "beautiful river").

The first documented European contact with present-day New Brunswick was by French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534, who sailed into and first named the Baie des Chaleurs (or "Bay of Warmth") in the northern part of the province.

In 1604, another French party led by geographer Samuel de Champlain set camp for the winter on an island in the St. Croix River, off Passamaquoddy Bay near the present-day town of St. Andrews. 36 out of the 87 members died, mostly of scurvy. The colony was later relocated across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal, Nova Scotia. Throughout the 17th Century, French settlers continued to occupy what they termed Acadie.

A competing British claim to the region, which they termed Nova Scotia or "New Scotiand", was made by Sir William Alexander in 1621. England gained control during a series of wars, culminating with the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755, which forced French settlers out of southern New Brunswick. Many later settled along the province's north shore, in relative isolation from the outside world as late as the mid-20th century.

The entire region was then declared a single colony called Nova Scotia. However, during the American Revolution, residents of Boston and the rest of New England who wished to remain loyal to the British crown (known as United Empire Loyalists) were enticed northward by promises of free land. Many settled in the Saint John River valley. Fearing that a government based in Halifax was too far away and too supportive of the American cause to provide an effective government, the Loyalists demanded that a separate colony be created.

On August 16, 1784; the colony of New Brunswick was created, with Thomas Carleton the first governor and the capital located at Parrtown (present-day Saint John). Fearing Parrtown's coastal location meant it was prone to American attack, officials moved the capital inland to Fredericton in 1785.

The western border with the United States remained in dispute until forces from both New Brunswick and Maine threatened war in the 1830s. A resolution was sought, and the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 defined the current boundary before any warfare took place.

In the middle of the 19th Century, New Brunswick welcomed a large number of immigrants from Ireland, particularly in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine.

Cities

The provincial capital is Fredericton. Its largest city is Saint John (not to be confused with St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador). Moncton has the largest French-speaking population of any of the province's major centres.

Name

The province's name comes from the archaic English translation for Braunschweig, a city in northern Germany that was the ancestral home of King George III.

Government and Politics

The current Premier is Shawn Graham (the leader of the Liberal Party), who has held the post since the most recent election, in 2006.

New Brunswick has a Legislative Assembly with 55 members, each elected in single-member ridings. As of December 2008, the Liberals hold 32 seats; while the opposition Progressive Conservative Party, led by David Alward, holds 23. The New Democratic Party (NDP) and Green Party are also incorporated as provincial parties, but currently have no representation in the legislature.