New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

New Brunswick’s Roads in 1832: ‘Many paths, are misnamed roads’

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From the blog at

Following is a short description of the condition of New Brunswick’s roads in the very early days—1832. It is taken from Sketches of British America by John Macgregor, London, 1832.


Elm Tree, and the Royal Road, N.B., 1836

From the New Brunswick Museum, via the McCord Museum


New Brunswick’s Roads in 1832: “Many Paths, are misnamed Roads

Along the principal roads of this province settlements are gradually forming; accordingly, while travelling along, we pass by farms and houses in all the various gradations of improvement, from the miserable rude hut, and the first few trees felled in the forest, to the handsome clap-boarded, shingled, and painted house, and large barn, amidst several acres of land cleared of the stumps, and under grass, grain, and potatoes.

The roads in New Brunswick were, with scarcely ten miles in one place of an exception, worse than the generality of those I have travelled over in any of the other colonies, always leaving Newfoundland, which can only boast of one short road, out of the question.

The road from Fort Cumberland, through Westmoreland, and along the River Petit Coudiac [sic], and thence through Sussex Vale, and across Hammond River to St. John’s, is the best I know of, and the bridges it crosses are tolerable.

The road from St. John’s to St. Andrew’s is truly bad and dangerous. The road opened from Carleton, opposite St. John’s, by the way of the River Nerepis, to Fredericton, is particularly bad from the Nerepis to Oromocto; and from Fredericton to the Canada line there is only about 65 miles on which we can attempt to drive any sort of carriage. The distance from St. John’s by this route, which follows the river to the falls of Madawaska, and from thence across the high lands to the St. Lawrence below Kamouraska, is 347 miles, from which, by an excellent road along the banks of the St. Lawrence, the distance to Quebec is 107 miles.

The road from opposite Fredericton, along the Nashwaak, and thence to Miramichi, is also very bad; as is also the road from Fredericton to St. Andrews. There is a pretty good road from the Petit Coudiac to Shediac, on the gulf coast, by which hay is frequently hauled to the latter place. The road from Shediac to Miramichi is, particularly from Richibucto to the last place, abominable. Several paths, which are misnamed roads, have also been opened between the various settlements.

The Legislative Assembly have certainly at different times appropriated large sums in aid of the statute labour, for the purpose of opening and improving the roads of the province. But, somehow or other, road making was, until lately, either not understood, or the labour and money must have been misapplied, as good leading roads were, at least three years ago, an essential desideratum in New Brunswick. The expense of making a good road through a forest will be about £100 per mile.

An object of paramount importance and convenience to the lower and upper colonies, would be to open a good carriage road from Nova Scotia to Fredericton, and thence to the River St. Lawrence. It should be made at the joint expense of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, as all would derive equal advantage from accomplishing an undertaking that would open a direct line through all the British colonies.

Another line of road, and certainly a most desirable one, was pointed out by Governor Sir Howard Douglas, as a great military road from Halifax to Quebec. This line would be a continuation of the road from Halifax to the bend of the River Petit Coudiac, thence to the gulf coast, to the River Miramichi, and thence, by the way of the River Restigouche, to the St. Lawrence at Metis, about 200 miles below Quebec.

The benefits of such roads would be great. The colonies would be connected so much closer in their interests by greater facility of communication; the military forces could easily and speedily move wherever required; the crown lands would be disposed of at a much better price; and, by throwing open the rich lands of the interior, they would be settled upon rapidly.

Several small settlements along the roads in New Brunswick appear to be in a flourishing condition. Disbanded soldiers, however, do not generally make good settlers, unless placed under proper officers or superintendents. On the woodlands, along the road from the Nashwaak to Miramichi, I observed several untenanted huts, which were occupied by disbanded soldiers, who had the lands granted them, but who deserted their habitations as soon as they expended the rations they received from government.

While travelling over this province we cannot help being amused at the names given to many places in the colonies by the whim of the first settlers. It is natural for people to cherish associations connected with their birthplace, and we are not surprised, on arriving at a fine thriving settlement, inhabited by Welshmen, who planted themselves amidst the forest about fifteen miles from Fredericton, that it is named Cardigan; nor that an equally thriving settlement of industrious Irish, on the shores of the Bay Chaleur, is called New Bandon; but we can hardly repress a smile on hearing places through or by which we pass, called Canaan, Mount Pisgah, &c. [Try to restrain yourself. Ed.]


Written by johnwood1946

January 4, 2017 at 8:58 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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