Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Fredericton is immensely proud of its Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and so it should be: the gallery is the envy of many a larger centre. The surprises begin in a foyer just inside the entrance, where hangs Santiago El Grande, the mammoth painting Salvador Dali completed just two years before the gallery opened in 1959, A gift of Lord Beaverbrook, the millionaire Canadian businessman who became a British press baron, the gallery houses remarkable collections of Canadian and international art. They include paintings by Cornelius Krieghoff, Molly and Bruno Bobak, Mary and Christopher Pratt, Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, and J.M. Turner. The Beaverbrook is also a venue for prestigious touring exhibitions, some of which are shown in the Marion McCain Atlantic Gallery, a spacious wing added to the gallery in 1994. At the opening of the original building in 1959, Lord Beaverbrook said: "The eyes of youth, falling upon these walls, may draw from them an impulse to create and emulate." Today, art flourishes in Fredericton, and the Beaverbrook Gallery is part of the reason.
Lights of St. Mary's
The houses at St. Mary's First Nation, on Fredericton's north side, are not that different from many suburban buildings erected in the last half-century. This is so until Christmas season arrives. Then a spectacle bursts forth that lights the holiday nights and draws in visitors from near and far. Every home in the community is festooned with arrays of Christmas lights. It's like something from the movies, but, taken as a whole, it is a real-life joyous celebration of the season, of neighbourliness, of community spirit and pride. Visitors pour in from other parts of the city and surrounding countryside. Tour buses arrive from distant points. By Christmas Eve, the traffic on the local streets is bumper-to-bumper. In 2002-03, the display won a national "Winterlights Celebration" competition, but St. Mary's Chief Candace Paul said the real achievement happens closer to home: "Barriers, both real and perceived, have broken down, and the Christmas lights are a very positive outcome of this. It's our gift to Fredericton."
Like many older cities, Fredericton is a composite of former communities once known by their own names. Of these, none is more historic than Pointe Sainte-Anne. It is the large flatland upon which Government House sits above the St. John River in the western part of town. In ancient days, it was, for thousands of years, the territory of the Wolastoqiyik people. Later, it became the site of a thriving Acadian settlement that was named Sainte-Anne. In 1755, some of the victims of the Acadian Expulsion found refuge there. But, four years later, the New England Rangers burned it to the ground, and, after that, British influence gradually became dominant, especially with the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in 1783. When Thomas Carleton became New Brunswick's first governor, he built a mansion for himself at Sainte-Anne, and it served as his official residence until it burned in 1825. Meanwhile, the composition of the town changed and so did its name, from Sainte-Anne to Frederick's Town to Fredericton. But we must not forget the nexus of its roots, from Aboriginal to Acadian to Loyalist to today's broadening ethnic mix.
The Boyce Farmers' Market
"The Market" is a Fredericton Saturday morning institution. Residents and visitors flock there for the rich array of ethnic foods, farm produce, fresh fish, beautiful crafts, maple syrup, jams and jellies, flowers and baking—and for the characters who offer these goods, some of whom have been doing so for decades. The market is named for William Walter Boyce, a young Englishman who first visited Fredericton in 1888. Later settling here, he married a local girl, May Leonard of Salamanca, and they operated a farm in Lincoln, specializing in turnips, which they sold as far as Montreal and Boston. Boyce also became a prosperous lumberman, fertilizer and feed merchant, but he always hoped that Fredericton would build a proper market house. It didn't happen in his lifetime, but when he died in 1950, he left $40,000 for York County to build one. The cautious county councilors balked at such a big project and tried to return the money. May Boyce wouldn't take it. Today the Boyce Farmers' Market, on the edge of an historic residential area, is a wondrous weekly reflection of the diverse place the city has become.
It was a canoe, a company, and a Canadian icon. The company is gone now, but the craft and its iconic status live on, for the canvas-covered canoe and the Chestnut name became famous all over Canada and the United States. Its origins went back to the turn of the last century and a time when the outdoor spirit was triumphant and New Brunswick had an international reputation as a sportsmen’s paradise. The Chestnut family had been in the hardware business (“Hardware for Hard Wear”) for more than 40 years when R. Chestnut & Sons sold their first canoes from the store at Phoenix Square in downtown Fredericton. It was 1904, and the canoes had been made in a nearby woodworking factory. Within three years, there was a Chestnut Canoe Company and a four-storey brick factory on York Street from which these beautiful craft would emerge for much of the next seven decades. The names they bore-the Prospector, Trapper, Ogilvy Special, the Bobs-alone were enough to stir the imagination, and life was not complete for many an outdoorsman, some from the far reaches of the continent, until they had made a pilgrimage to Fredericton and seen the hallowed place where the canoes were designed and built. The company came to an end in 1978, a victim of time and circumstance, but many people still have, and cherish, their Chestnut Canoes and the memories that inevitably attach to them.
The late 1600s were a nervous time. Port Royale, capital of the French territory known as Acadie, had already been lost to the British once, and the Governor of Quebec, Count Frontenac, was worried it could happen again. So he ordered the Governor of Acadie, Sieur de Villebon, to find a more secure location. In 1692, Villebon chose a snug inland spot where the Nashwaak River meets the St. John. On the southwest edge of the confluence, he built a fort he called St. Joseph but which became known as Fort Nashwaak. It was a typical 17th Century fort, with pointed, palisaded walls and four corner bastions. Inside were three other essential structures: the commandant’s quarters, soldiers’ barracks, and guardhouse. The mouth of the Nashwaak was a convenient place from which to nurture a close alliance with the native people while also mounting occasional harassments of settlements in New England. It also proved its worth as a fortress when, in 1696, it repulsed a major attack by a combined force of the British and New England settlers. Villebon, though, had plans for a new fort downriver, and it was built in 1696 near where the St. John enters the Bay of Fundy. Known as Fort Menagoeche, or Fort de la Riviere Saint-Jean, it was subsequently abandoned and re-occupied many times. The French did not return to Fort Nashwaak. Still, it was, for a brief time, the capital of Acadie.
People of a certain age remember her well. The little girl with the red braids, freckles and cheery nature began charming young radio listeners in the 1930s and continued to do so into the television age. Maggie Muggins was the creation of Mary Grannan, a Fredericton school-teacher who claimed her story-telling grew out of an early aversion to teaching arithmetic to her class at the Devon Superior School. She was a teacher for nearly two decades, but in summer she took courses in Boston and New York and participated in amateur theatre. When Radio Station CFNB, first in the Maritimes, opened here, she began producing scripts for two shows, “Musical Scrapbook” and “Aggravatin’ Agatha.” The financial rewards were modest, $3 a week for the scripts and their performance; nonetheless, it served to supplement her Depression- era teaching salary of $700 a year. And it was a launching pad. The renowned broadcaster J. Frank Willis heard her work, and in 1939 the fledgling CBC network began airing episodes of “Just Mary,” featuring Maggie Muggins, on Sunday afternoons. It became the cornerstone of Canadian children’s programming, running 44 episodes a year from then until 1962. In 1954, “Maggie Muggins” became a TV show, too. Mary Grannan was nothing, if not prolific. She also wrote 29 books and numerous other weekly radio shows. A striking woman noted for her fashionable attire, she was a Frederictonian always. She died at her home here in 1975 and was buried in the Hermitage Cemetery.
Baseball, the summer game, was also, in its origins, the mill town game, the natural recreation of workers who toiled in the mills of the 19th and early 20th centuries. So it was that Marysville, the textile and lumber town that Alexander “Boss” Gibson named for his wife Mary, was a baseball town, too. They were playing the game on Baseball Hill, just up from the red brick mill houses, more than a century ago. One of the first improvements to the former cow pasture was a rail fence, erected in 1911 to keep the baseballers in and the bovines out. Later, loads of clay from a nearby brickyard were hauled in to make one of the finest fields in New Brunswick. In the buoyant days after the Second World War, volunteers added a new fence, dressing rooms, a canteen, and bleachers for 2000 fans. Royals Field, named for the home team, became a baseball epicentre, especially during playoff time, when fans round the province put their ears to the radio and strained to pick up scores from Radio Station CFNB in Fredericton. Other field changes followed, including, of course, lights for night baseball. Though Marysville is now part of Fredericton, Royals Field remains a classic small-town ballpark, where regional and national tournaments have been held, the home nine have sometimes won, and big league scouts have found several future semi-professional and professional ballplayers.
The Coleman Frog
The story of the Coleman Frog began in the 1880s. That’s when, according to legend, an ordinary frog jumped into the boat of a local businessman, Fred Coleman, while he was fishing upon Killarney Lake. For some reason-this part of the story is murky-Coleman began giving the frog whiskey and whey, for which the little creature developed a huge appetite and grew to 19 kilograms in weight. Then there was an unfortunate accident: other fishermen, trying to improve angling in the lake, set off a dynamite blast, and the frog was a casualty. It remained intact, however, and was sent to a taxidermist in Maine. When it came back, it was installed in the lobby of a local hotel, the Barker House, which Coleman owned, and there it sat, an object of awe and scientific speculation. Eventually, it moved to the York-Sunbury Museum, where it resides yet. Interest has been world-wide, and any skeptics reading this should know that even experts at an outfit called the Canadian Conservation Institute, no toadies themselves, have hesitated to call the Coleman Frog a fraud.
The Fredericton Railway Bridge
The history of New Brunswick is inextricably linked with trains, and so is the history of Fredericton, although most tangible reminders of the railway era have disappeared from the capital. Thus the significance of the Fredericton Railway Bridge across the St. John River. Lady Macdonald, wife of the Prime Minister, laid the cornerstone for it in 1887, and it was built over the next year, furnishing a connection between rail lines on both sides of the river. With steel trusses and stone piers, it is a monument to a time when steam trains and rail transport were paramount but river traffic was still important enough to require a swing span in the bridge. In March, 1936, one of the St. John’s mighty floods, this one caused by an ice jam, took some of it out, bringing cross-river rail traffic to a halt. But it was rebuilt in 1938, higher than before, and it continued in service for several decades more. Today, trains like “The Whooper,” which connected the province’s legendary North Shore to the capital, have gone the way of the riverboats, but the bridge has gained a new life-as a feature of Fredericton’s splendid trail system. Every year, thousands use it for exercise and for watching spectacles like sunsets on the river and holiday fireworks displays.
Lady Ashburnham's Pickles
She was born Maria Anderson in Fredericton on November 25, 1858, and grew up in a spacious home on Brunswick Street. When the New Brunswick Telephone Company was created in 1888, she became night operator at the Central Exchange. It was her lovely voice and soft laughter that first beguiled Thomas Ashburnham. They married in 1903, and a decade later, after his older brothers had all died, Thomas inherited an English title. Except for a brief sojourn in the Old Country just before the First World War, Lord and Lady Ashburnham lived their days on Brunswick Street, where she loved to entertain. No devotee to domesticity herself, Lady Ashburnham was fortunate in having a sister, Lucy, who made wonderfully tasty mustard pickles. These were regularly served as a special treat at the Ashburnham gatherings and also donated for charity functions. Somewhat unfairly, they became known as Lady Ashburnham’s Pickles, and their fame—and the recipe for them—has since traveled far beyond the kitchens of Fredericton.
The Kingsclear Palaeoindian Spear Point
A significant part of Fredericton’s history is the 12,000 year presence in our area of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) people. Their original migrations came at a time when climatic fluctuations were extreme and resources scarce. The Wolastoqiyik followed the big game herds across the tundra as the glaciers retreated. The Kingsclear Palaeoindian Spear Point is a symbol of this original migration into the area. It is made from a rock variety of the early Holocene period found in a quarry in Central Maine and was traded and exchanged over a distance of several hundred kilometres. Angus Watson of nearby New Maryland donated the spear point to Fredericton’s York-Sunbury Museum in the early 1960s. Three Wolastoqiyik communities exist in the Fredericton area, which is unique for a Canadian capital city.
The St. John River
The St. John is one of the longest and most beautiful rivers on the Eastern Seaboard. Rising in the wilderness of Northern Maine, it runs nearly the length of New Brunswick, changing character several times during its 635-kilometre journey to the sea. By the time it reaches Fredericton, just 130 kilometres from the Bay of Fundy, it has become an estuarial river, wide and placid. A defining feature of the Provincial Capital, where access to it has been carefully protected with green spaces and walking trails, the river has long drawn visitors and often been a factor in extending their stays. It has been celebrated in art and music, photography and literature—a natural icon spawning distinctive cultural ones.
The Stone Bridge
Awarded in 2007
The Trees of Fredericton
Awarded in 2007
The University of New Brunswick
Awarded in 2007
Wilmot Church Carved Wooden Hand
Awarded in 2007