The History of Moncton
Beautiful bilingual Moncton is set in the geographical center of the Maritimes located near the Petitcodiac River (" the river that bends like a bow"). The area was originally habited by the Mi' Kmaq and later by Acadian pioneers. The nomadic Mi' Kmaq stayed along the river during the summer as they remained mobile and did not have permanent settlements, however they did inhabit distinct areas annually. The Acadian settlers set out reclaiming the land from the water by diking the land for use in agriculture. This Acadian settlement was originally known as "Le Coude". On this spot the Bore park stands where the amazing natural wonder of the Tidal bore can be witnessed. The community was named Monckton in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Monckton, who captured Fort Beasuéjour in 1755, marking the start of the Deportation of the Acadians. The area consisted of 100,000 acres (12 square miles).
In 1766, Captain Hall piloted a ship, carrying a group of settlers from Pennsylvania, into what is now known as Hall's Creek. The families that were on the ship were Heinrick Stief (Steeves), Jacob Treitz (Trites), Matthias Somers, Jacob Reicker (Ricker), Charles Jones, George Wortman, Micheal Lutz (Lutes) and George Copple; as can be seen on the plaque mounted at the mouth of Hall's Creek. These settlers and the returning Acadians soon came to befriend each other and develop the area. The Acadians return to the Monckton area at this time was extremely helpful in teaching the Pennsylvanian settlers how to survive the harsh winter with little supplies.
Along the Petitcodiac where these settlers landed was a phenomenon known as the Tidal Bore. It later became an attraction. The river was very dangerous to navigate due to the high tides and narrow channel. Despite shipping being a challenge in the river the 1830's saw the shipping trade become a major economic booster. In 1841, wharves were built along the river. Originally, trade was primarily done by the barter system. Fishing of course still played a major role in the economy at the time. The plentiful shad could be procured directly off the ships at the wharves right at the riverfront. Shipbuilding and the sea trade proved to be a major industry in the city of Moncton and surrounding communities. Building materials were in great supply and easily acquired from the area. Joseph Salter had an immense shipbuilding yard. Almost all vessels were built for owners in England and thus did not return to North America. Mr. Salter later became the first mayor. Moncton was a town from 1855 to 1862, losing its status after the principle industry the Salter Shipyards went bankrupt. The influx of new industry with the railroad revitalized the community.
Many local citizens developed industry in the budding distribution center of the Atlantic region. Frederick Sumner had a street railway and the Harris brothers created a sugar refinery and a cotton factory. Other factories and industries soon followed. Before the industrial boom most businesses were blacksmiths, sawmills and carriage production as well as sparse farms. Industrial development continued into the 1870's. The European and North American Railways were absorbed by the Intercontinental Railways (ICR). The ICR was the forerunner of the Canadian National Railway (CNR). By 1876, the ICR railway had established headquarters here in Moncton, being the rail link between Halifax and Montreal. At one time the railway employed 3,000 people locally.
Moncton reincorporated in 1875 with a new Latin Motto, "Resurgo", aptly meaning "I Rise Again". In 1876, a copyist working at the provincial legislature inadvertently dropped the 'k' in Monckton. After that incident, the community assumed its own identity. It sought out City status in 1890. Moncton became a city on the 23rd of April 1890. Its coat of arms illustrates the agricultural, industrial, and railway heritage, along with the world famous Tidal Bore. It proudly bears the Latin motto below the shield above the banner displaying its name.
In 1883, telephone service arrived in Moncton along with the NBTel Company that now has its office and tower on Alma Street. As Moncton entered into the twentieth century the Boer war broke out. Some 40 men would go on to serve in the Transvaal, not unlike many heroic Monctonians who would follow in their footsteps in later conflicts Canada was involved in. Population growth continued as 1,900 families were in the city in 1905. Oil and natural gas were discovered and refined in the area. One of the largest natural gas deposits in the world was discovered here. For nearly four decades, Moncton experimented with natural gas in their homes. This could sometimes act as a lethal mixture with people unaccustomed to the use and properties of the flammable gas. In this decade, the First World War broke out. The 19th Field Battery left Moncton for Valcartier, Quebec 24 days after war was declared. This unit became part of the 8th Overseas Battery as well as several other units with young Monctonians serving valiantly amongst them.
The railway continued to grow and play a role in Moncton throughout this period. With a focus on transportation, Fred Breau started a bus service in 1922. It was later to become the city's own Codiac Transit Bus service. The railway still grew with new CNR roundhouse being completed with an 85-foot turntable capable of housing 80 locomotives. A new airport arrived in 1937. In 1939, Canada was at war again. Moncton hosted the largest number of air force personnel during the first year of war with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Moncton became a flying school for the overseas effort hosting as many as 15,000 airmen in several bases throughout the area at one time. It also sent off it's own again with the 8th Battery, 14th Field Ambulance and 8th Canadian Hussars to name a few. All services and the Merchant Marine received volunteers from the area. In 1940, Trans-Canada Airlines, today known as Air Canada, began serving the city.
After the War, Moncton's heroes returned and a boom hit the area. In the 1950's television swept Moncton. Black and white television came locally from CKCW and CBAF-T. Moncton's acreage expanded as well with the city boundaries increasing 14.4 miles. The railway became a major industry supporting many Monctonians with the CN shops being a major employer. Much freight and many passengers flowed in and out of Moncton through the railway.
In 1963, the Université de Moncton (U de M) was built in the city. A teacher's college was added to the campus. The beautiful campus is a center for learning for students both locally and abroad. It has affiliations to several small campuses throughout N.B. It has facilities for housing the students on campus as well. Also of note, the causeway between Riverview and Moncton began as a three million dollar project in 1965 finishing construction in 1967. It now connected the town of Riverview with a land bridge to Moncton rather than just with the Gunninsville Bridge that was several decades old dating back to horse and carriage traffic.
Moncton's growth continued into the 1970's with the creation of a second hospital, the George Dumont Hospital being erected near the U de M. The 1980's saw the closure of several key businesses in Moncton. More than a dozen of the oldest established businesses in the area closed. Also, the loss of the Railway as a major industry in 1988 had a great effect. This recession saw hard times hit local business and business Canada wide. Not to be down for long, Moncton's motto, "Resurgo", rang true once again.
Maintaining the push to move forward, Moncton has continued to innovatively develop along the information highway. It has remained as a hub to the Maritimes with renewed growth in the information technology and being a par of the cutting edge in the development of many new technologies and ventures. In August 1999, the city hosted the VIII Sommet de la Francophonie (Francophone Summit) the largest conference ever held in the city hosting delegates worldwide from 54 countries.
Moncton is not only a leader in Information Technology sector to the Maritimes and the world, but also provides excellent tourism, quality manufacturing, incredible variety in shopping and boasts a friendly well-educated bilingual population. Moncton is rated as one of the fastest growing cities in North America. Greater Moncton's current population is approximately 126,420 people.