Miramichi History: Beaubears Island

One of the most revered places in the city of Miramichi is the famed Beaubears Island, which attracts tourists far and wide. Located strategically in the middle of Miramichi River, Beaubears Island may be small in size-2 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide, but it has so much history that’s important to the existence of Miramichi and people living in this town.

The Miqmaq, or Mik’maq, people being the first people to settle in Miramichi many years before the Europeans colonized North America, made this island the traditional meeting point. All important meetings and events were held in Beaubears Island. These indigenous people subsisted on seal oil, cattle hides, and beaver skins.

When the French arrived in Miramichi, they wanted to rule over the local communities and control the resources. In 1757, Charles Deschamps de Boishebert, led the French in fighting the local Miqmaq Indian communities. The descendants of French emigrants, who were known as Acadians, treasured Miramichi River to the point of even intermarrying with the local communities to stamp authority over the area. The British had also arrived in the region and wanted to take control of Miramichi River and surrounding areas. Troops from the French camps tried to fight the British, who had arrived from Virginia but lost the battle. The war saw over 200 people from the French camp lose the lives.

In 1758, the British under the leadership of the authoritative Colonel Murray, attacked Miramichi and erased almost the entire population. They deported the Acadians, what is now known as the Acadian Expulsion. Fortunately, some Acadians remained on Beaubears Island despite the inhuman catastrophes that befell the area. Most of these people trace their ancestry to the French refugees who camped in the island in 1750s. Although the island is associated with a sad chapter in the history of Miramichi, it is currently one of the top tourist destinations in New Brunswick.