Common menu bar links

Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites of Canada, J. Leonard O'Brien Memorial

Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites of Canada, J. Leonard O'Brien Memorial

Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures

Boishébert National Historic Site of Canada

Portrait of Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot, Marquis de Boishébert (1727-1797), c. 1753.  Head and shoulder frontal portrait of the Marquis with arms akimbo, wearing metal armour with the Order of Saint-Louis attached with rose ribbon on chest; fur backdrop.  The painting is part of the permanent collection of the McCord Museum, McGill University, in Montréal, Québec.
Portrait of Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot, Marquis de Boishébert (1727-1797), c. 1753. The painting is part of the permanent collection of the McCord Museum, McGill University, in Montréal, Québec.
© McCord Museum, McGill University, Montréal

For thousands of years, the Miramichi area has been home to the Aboriginal people who utilized the rich resources of the river and adjacent woodlands. It is believed that Quoomeneegook (Pine Island) and its surrounding areas were used by the Mi'kmaq for camping and for ceremonial purposes. Later, the rich resources of the area led European entrepreneurs to the region.

In 1636, the trader Nicolas Denys was granted a large seigneury by the King of France that included the confluence of the Southwest and Northwest Miramichi. By the mid-18th century, a number of Acadian settlements developed around Miramichi Harbour and along the Miramichi River. These settlements fluctuated in size as some Acadians moved northward to Quebec and Restigouche and as others came north from the Bay of Fundy area. After the 1755 deportation of the Acadians, a French-Canadian officer active in the region, Charles Deschamps de Boishébert, brought several large groups of Acadians to the Miramichi area. The first substantial group probably arrived in the summer of 1756.

The Miramichi settlements appear to have been used by the French during 1757 and 1758 as a gathering point for expeditions both against the English in Nova Scotia and in support of the French at Louisbourg and as a transhipment point for supplies for Louisbourg. The earliest surviving description of the area suggests that the bulk of the settlement was on what is now known as Wilsons Point.

In 1785, the surveyor Benjamin Marston stated "there was formerly on this very Point a considerable French Village the ruins of which are yet remaining." Similarly Robert Cooney's early history of northeastern New Brunswick located the settlement on the point. He described the settlement as "...a Town comprising upwards of two hundred houses, including a Chapel and Provision Stores, at Beaubair's [sic] Point..." and noted "...on Beaubair's [sic] point, the remains of cellar walls, wells, and chimneys are visible."

During the winters of 1756-57 and 1757-58, the inhabitants of the settlements at Miramichi suffered severely from famine and sickness. Precise mortality figures are not available but both contemporary and later references suggest well over a thousand people may have died in the three main settlements in these years. In September 1758, Colonel James Murray destroyed several Acadian settlements along the lower Miramichi River. Colonel Murray did not travel as far up river as Beaubears Island and it is likely that the settlement there, which had already been declining as the inhabitants moved northwards to Quebec, was destroyed by Captain John Byron of the HMS Fame in June 1760.