The History of Moncton
The history of Moncton is diverse and full of dramatic events that shaped not only the town itself but the country as a whole. This page contains Moncton.Net’s own brief history of Moncton from the Mikmaq days to the present.
Moncton community was born when the nomadic Mikmaq settlers founded a camp on the banks of the Petitcodiac River. The muddy streams of the river prompted the First People to call it the Pet-koot-koy-ek – “bending like a bow”. Historians do not have much information about the first settlers and their experiences at the time when the first campsite was formed.
The European settlers at the time were populating the coastal area and the area of Moncton was considered too deep inlands. The earliest reference of the area (the Petcoucoyer River) comes from the de Meulles Map of 1686. This date, 1686 is considered the staring point of the European experience.
The river was an important gateway for both the Native People and the European settlers in establishing first trade links in Canada.
After Chignecto settlement was established by the Acadians in 1670s, Moncton’s first Acadian period begins. The first Acadians made their first trip to the Shepody River in 1689. In the Spring of 1700 a miller from Pree-Ronde (near Port-Royal) with his family build a house at Chipodie thus creating the first Acadian settlement in the area. Soon many more families followed and gradually started to expand Acadian territory.
The little settlement of Le Coude near the Halls Creek was one of the first Acadian dykeland communities on the Petitcodiac and the beginning of Moncton as a European settlement. It was formed around 1733 and was also called as Terre-Rouge, red soil. By 1734, when an ecclesiastical census was taken, there were between 60 and 70 families in the Shepody area. By 1751 this number grew to 167 families, over 1000 people total. Among the first families there were the Thibodeau, Babineau, Breau. There was a small chapel built near the present-day Bore Park.
In 1745, Britain and France went to war and it spread to the new world. Colonists from New England who were determined to drive the French out of North America attacked and captured Fortress Louisbourg. This gave the British complete control of the Atlantic coast, but not for long. When the war ended, a peace treaty was negotiated between England and France, and the French got Fortress Louisbourg back.
Having given the great fort back to the French, the British decided that they would have to build one for themselves. In 1749, the British sent 2,000 troops and settlers to found the city of Halifax. They started building a huge fort called the Halifax Citadel on top of the highest hill or the area. Constructed in 1751, Fort Beausejour was built in response to the British having built Fort Lawrence across the Missiquash River, which divided British-held Nova Scotia from Acadia.
In June, 1755, the British, under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Monckton, took the fort and renamed it Fort Cumberland. The British forces burned all the Acadian settlements on the shores of the Petitcodiac.
In 1761 the first British families had settled on the Tantramar Township. These families came form Providence, Rhode Island. Rhode Island was then a gateway to the new world. In four years a handful of German families from Pennsylvania started a new village in the Petitcodiac delta. In 1766 Captain John Hall arrived from Pennsylvania established Monckton Township.
It was named after Lieut-General Robert Monckton. He was born in Yorkshire, England and came to Nova Scotia as a boy. There is no historic evidence of Monckton actually visiting the area of Moncton. He was at the head of the British troops as they took over Fort Beausejourand oversaw the deportation of Acadians. Monckton traveled and fought all over Eastern Canada, but refused to visit Monckton.
The township grew very slowly. By 1788 there were only 12 families living there. At the same time several Acadian families came back from the exile.
The growth of neighboring communities in Halifax and St. John boosted the economic development of Monckton’s Township as well. In 1836 a regular stage coach and mail service started to operate thus connecting Halifax – Monckton Township and Saint John. In 1853 the first railway connected Shediac and St. John, thus further improving Moncton’s status as a transit place. In 1855 Moncton was incorporated as a city. As the result of a clerical error the “k” was dropped off the city’s name. While it was possible to correct that, both the public and the Mayor Joseph Salter decided to leave it as is.
In the first half of the 19th century Monckton was well known for its ship building, which was Monckton’s major industry at the time. Locally supplied timber and efficiency with which Joseph Salter, the owner of the shipyard, made Moncton one of the centers of the ship building industry of Atlantic Canada at the time.
1850s was a major economic recession in Moncton and in 1862 it was forced to withdraw its incorporated status. The end of the recession started after the headquarters of the Intercolonial Railway was established in Moncton in 1872. A construction boom took off shortly thereafter. In 1875 Moncton regained its incorporated status under the Mayor Joseph Crandall. Economic growth meant more people - in 1870s there not more than 5000 citizens in Moncton. In 1890 Moncton was given its city status. By the 1900 there were over 10,000 people living in the city.
In 1901 Moncton saw its first and only automobile on display. The car was built by Alex Carter and Walter Bowness. In 1913 Moncton’s free Public Library was opened. In 1921 a first airplane from Chatham, NB landed in Moncton, where it made a refueling stop. Next year radio started to operate from a room of a jewelry store. Moncton’s first radio was called CNRA. In 1926 Moncton’s first synagogue was constructed on Steadman Street to host a community of Tiferes Israel. At the same time Moncton’s Capitol Theatre open its doors to Moncton’s public.
In 1954 the first locally broadcasted TV could be seen on the screens on local TVs. The TV station was called CKCW-TV.
The construction of the Moncton causeway in 1968, to give the inhabitants of the town a route across the river, has devastated not only the wildlife and fish population, but it has also suppressed the great tidal bore. Before the causeway, the bore used to be up to 2 meters high! It would reach Salisbury.
1970s were marked by the unprecedented level of crime in Moncton. Two policemen were murdered, people were kidnapped, and there were even gang-style assassinations. By the end of the decade, however, the criminal situation has improved.
On September 24, 1983 Queen Elizabeth, II visited Moncton.
On May 28, 1996, Robert K. Irving announced the purchase of the Moncton Franchise of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, thus creating Moncton's own hockey team, Wild Cats.
In September 1999, 52 heads of state from all over the world came to Moncton for the Francophone Summit - a gathering of the world’s French speaking nations. This was the largest gathering of heads of state in Canada’s history.
In the most recent history Moncton’s first Ballet Company was created in 2001, The Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada. Shortly after opening the ABTC mounted its first World Premiere, FIGARO, on the stage of the Capitol Theatre.
On August 6, 2002, Moncton City Council passed a motion to become Canada's first officially bilingual city.