The Isthmus of Chignecto, the land bridge between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, has been a focus of overland travel routes for centuries for the area's Aboriginal peoples and the Europeans who followed.

In the middle years of the 18th century, a small river called the Missaquash traversed the area and served as a frontier between the imperial forces of England and France.

Fort Beauséjour was built by the French in 1751 to defend their interests in the region and to counterbalance the construction of the British Fort Lawrence built a year previously in the area. After four years of an uneasy stalemate, the fort fell to British and colonial forces after a two-week siege in June 1755. It played a role in the Deportation of the Acadians in the late 1750s and early 1760s.

The fort was renamed Fort Cumberland after it was captured by the British in 1755. A generation later, in 1776 during the early stages of the American Revolution, dozens of disgruntled English-speaking inhabitants of the Chignecto region and beyond, along with smaller numbers of Acadians, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Mi'gmaq, joined a group of American patriots to attack Fort Cumberland. The British soldiers successfully defended the fort, dispersing the rebels and capturing many of them. Reinforced for the War of 1812, it was abandoned in 1835 and declared a national historic site in 1920.

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