The Chaleur Region owes its name to the Bay of Chaleur (“The Bay of Warmth”), christened by Jacques Cartier, the first European to visit the area in 1534 during a warm summer day. The region’s permanent settlement history stretches back over 350 years when the initial missionaries arrived in 1619, setting up a Récollet Mission on Nepisiguit Bay’s shores.
In 1652, Nicholas Denys, the then Governor of Acadia, chose Ferguson point, the current location of Gowan Brae Golf and Country Club, as his base. He passed away there in 1688 and is believed to be buried at the site. The settlement was deserted a few years later but was reestablished in 1755 by Acadian refugees expelled from what is now Nova Scotia.
The western part of today’s City of Bathurst was largely populated by Acadian settlers, while English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants settled in the central and eastern areas. As the century turned, new settlements began to emerge along the Chaleur coast, with the French settlers moving upshore (Petit-Rocher, 1797) and the English moving downshore.
Bathurst evolved into a trade hub for the Chaleur Region during the nineteenth century. Surrounding areas grew as farming and fishing communities, relying on the Village of Bathurst for specialized services such as shipbuilding. The most renowned of these was the “Cunarder,” constructed by the founders of the well-known Cunard shipping company.
In 1914, the Bathurst Power and Paper Company began building the first pulp mill. The same period also saw the initiation of mining activity in the region, with Bathurst Iron Mines, located roughly 10 kilometers south of present-day Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corporation operations, being operational between 1907 and 1913.
The pulp and paper industry was the cornerstone of the regional economy for the first half of the twentieth century. However, the discovery of several substantial lead and zinc deposits south of Bathurst in the early 1950s gradually led to mining overtaking pulp and paper as the region’s principal industry by the 1960s. This continues to be the case, with recent developments such as the Thermal Power Generating Station in nearby Belledune further bolstering the regional economy.
Bathurst achieved city status in 1966.
Today, the Chaleur Region continues to flourish due to its abundant human resources and creative innovations. With a population of approximately 45,000, over half of the residents of the Chaleur Region are bilingual. A highly skilled bilingual workforce, coupled with the stunning and untouched environment, make the Chaleur Region, and specifically Bathurst, a natural choice for business.
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