As the French and English fought over control of the New World, the French eventually gained control of Nova Scotia, which then included the St. John River Valley. Between 1672 and 1700 the French King assigned land grants, and in 1692, Joseph Robineau de Villebon established a fort at the point where the Nashwaak River drains into the St. John. The handful of settlers who lived near the fort became prosperous fur traders. When Villebon died, his successor was sent to Port Royal in Nova Scotia to help rebuild the fort there. That same year spring floods destroyed Fort Nashwaak, and the people there moved to Port Royal as well.
The Fredericton area was resettled again in 1732 by a group of French Acadians, fleeing the British forces who had taken possession of Nova Scotia following the Treaty of Utrecht. 83 people settled in the area where Old Government House stands today, and called their community Ste. Anne's Point, which was the Capital of Acadia from 1692 to 1698.
The area came under English jurisdiction in 1758, when British Forces captured Louisburg. The British swept through the St. John River Valley, burning homes and expelling Acadians. When a group of English tried to settle at St. Anne's Point in 1762, they were stopped by the Indians, and relocated down river in Maugerville, and in 1768, three English trading families were able to settle permanently at Saint Anne's Point.
Following the American Revolution, in 1783 about 34,000 Americans loyal to the British crown fled the former colonies for Nova Scotia and 14,000 settled in present-day New Brunswick, with 2,000 Loyalists settling around Ste. Anne's Point. Because only a few were able to build log shelters before the long, cold winter, many of the settlers who tried to survive in tents did not and were buried at Salamanca. (you'll find it on The Green at the end of Waterloo Row).
The surviving Loyalists petitioned Governor Parr in Halifax to make the area north of the Bay of Fundy a separate province in the spring of 1784 and New Brunswick was born. Thomas Carleton, who had helped the Loyalists evacuate New York, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new province and arrived at Ste. Anne's Point in January 1785 and with Dugald Campbell conducted a land survey. On February 22, 1785, renamed the settlement "Frederickstown", in honour of Prince Frederick, second son of King George III. Its positioning 112 km from the Bay of Fundy on the St. John River, made it safe from sea attacks. Its central location, surrounded by excellent farming land and forests had Governor Carleton choose Fredericton as provincial capital on April 25, 1785.
Because of Fredericton's importance as capital, and its proximity to the American border, it was decided that military personnel should be stationed here. The 57th, 54th, and 104th Foot Regiments all served in this area and The Royal Canadian Regiment was raised here on December 21, 1883. The Guard House, Barracks, and Old Officers' Quarters (now the Museum) still standing downtown are tributes to the army's importance to Fredericton's early life.
The province's first election was held in November of 1785 and took three months to complete. Those elected held their initial meetings in Saint John. The Legislative Assembly did not actually meet in the capital until 1788.
Fredericton High School is the oldest English High School in Canada (est. 1785) and was once the largest in the British Commonwealth with a student population of more than 3,000 (much smaller today, because of redistricting to serve the recently built Leo Hayes high school). Also founded in 1785, the University of New Brunswick is tied with the University of Georgia, as the oldest universities in North America. The Brydone Jack Observatory was established at King's College (now UNB) in 1851, is one of the oldest astronomical observatories in Canada. The first engineering school in Canada was established at UNB in 1862. The Old Arts Building at the University of New Brunswick is the oldest university building still in use in Canada.
More history of Fredericton