The Chaleur Region derives its designation from the Bay of Chaleur ( “The bay of warmth” ), so named by Jacques Cartier, the first European to visit the area. It was a warm summer day way back in 1534. Permanent settlement dates back more than 350 years, when in 1619 the first missionaries arrived and established a Récollet Mission on the shores of Nepisiguit Bay.
In 1652, Nicholas Denys, then Governor of Acadia, established his headquarters at Ferguson point, present site of the Gowan Brae Golf and Country Club, where he died and was reportedly buried in 1688. The settlement was abandoned a few years later, but resettled in 1755 by Acadian refugees expelled from present day Nova Scotia.
Acadian settlers mainly occupied the western part of present-day “City of Bathurst“, while English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants settled in the central and eastern parts. At the turn of the century, new settlements were beginning to appear along the Chaleur coast. The French settled upshore (Petit-Rocher, 1797) and the English downshore.
During the nineteenth century, Bathurst developed as a trade center for the Chaleur Region. Outlying areas developed as farming and fishing communities, dependent on the Village of Bathurst for special services. One such service was shipbuilding. The most famous is the “Cunarder” which was built by the founders of the famous Cunard shipping company.
In 1914, construction of the first pulp mill was started by the Bathurst Power and Paper Company. The first mining activity in the area also took place during that period when the Bathurst Iron Mines, approximately 10 Kilometers south of the present Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corporation operations, were worked between 1907 and 1913.
During the first half of the present century, the pulp and paper industry was the mainstay of the regional economy. But in the early fifties, several large deposits of lead and zinc were discovered south of Bathurst. In the 1960’s, mining gradually replaced pulp and paper as the major industry in the area and continues to dominate the local economy. Recent developments, such as the Thermal Power Generating Station in nearby Belledune, have strengthened the regional economy.
Bathurst was incorporated as a city in 1966.
Today, the Chaleur Region continues to grow through its human-resource potential and imaginative innovations. Of the Chaleur Region’s population of some 45,000, more than half are bilingual. A highly skilled and bilingual workforce, along with a beautiful and pristine environment, make the Chaleur Region and of course Bathurst, the natural place to do business.
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