Belledune

Belledune New Brunswick

Belledune

The “Supervillage” of Belledune was formed in 1994 by merging the communities of Jacquet River, Armstrong Brook, and Belledune.

Jacquet River was established in 1790 by James Augustus Doyle, who lent his name to the river. He was the sole settler between the Nepisiquit and Restigouche Rivers at the time. Doyle married Marie Savoie, and together with their thirteen children, they cleared over thirty acres of land. The family became known as the French Doyles to differentiate them from their Irish relatives. Numerous settlers followed, shaping the area’s customs and culture.

In 1824, Francois Guitard arrived at the Bay of Chaleur’s shores to farm and fish in what would later become Belledune. Guitard, originally from Fauxbourg, St. Antoine, France, had a remarkable history, having served under Napoleon Bonaparte in several battles. Like many others, Guitard sought a better life in the new world. Soon after his arrival, more people came to Belledune to settle and establish homes. Following the great Miramichi fire of 1825, many Irish and Scottish settlers also arrived, resulting in a diverse mix of Irish, French, and Scottish descendants in the community.

Belledune’s first church, a Roman Catholic church, was built at Chapel Point in 1830. In 1856, a larger church was constructed within the village, with Belledune resident John Maloughney appointed as treasurer. The first schools in Belledune were established in the 1850s, consisting of four one-room schoolhouses.

St. Gabriel's Bell

In 1856, Bishop Thomas Connolly of Saint John appointed John Maloughney, a Belledune resident, as treasurer of the new, larger Roman Catholic church which was built within the village. The first mass was celebrated there May 8th.

Seniors in the village recall the first schools in Belledune were built in the 1850’s. At one point, there were four one-room schoolhouses in the village. Students took turns starting fires in the wood stoves of the school in winter. They also took turns carrying water for drinking. Teachers, who also did janitorial work at the schools, were paid $90 a year.

Burning ship in the Bay of Chaleur
As the Belledune community lies along the shore of the Bay of Chaleur, many older residents tell of sighting the renowned Phantom Ship – or as it is sometimes called – “The Burning Ghost Ship”. The stories vary from community to community along the bay and versions differ, depending on which community sighted the apparition. The most common version is as follows;

“It was during the war between the French and English in the early 18th century that a sea battle took place. Two ships were sighted, about 1.5 miles from shore, fighting fiercely and within minutes one was in flames. The people on shore watched the spectacle in horror. One of the ships, instead of sinking right away, remained in flames for two hours or more.

Some of the older citizens in the village say they could hear men, women and children shouting for help while the ship was burning – and for days after the tragedy they could still hear the dying screams coming from the bay. Sightings of the Phantom Ship occur to this day, usually before a storm.” 

( Read more New Brunswick Folkelore and ghost stories here. )

The village of Belledune became an industrial center in northern New Brunswick starting in 1963 when the Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corporation built a lead smelter and fertilizer plant nearby. The presence of excellent port facilities attracted import/export businesses, and Shell Oil established a bulk plant close to the village.

The latest addition to the industrial sector was the construction of a 450-megawatt thermal generating station by NB Power, costing nearly $1 billion.

NB Power Generating Station Belledune NB

The Jacquet River Salmon Barrier in Belledune showcases conservation efforts to protect the vital Atlantic Salmon species. The salmon’s life cycle is a remarkable journey from their birth river to the farthest reaches of the ocean and back again, year after year. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the large tank of new salmon awaiting release and visit the information center to learn more about this crucial species.

Jaquet River Salmon Estuary

Belledune is known for the beaches from which it obtained its name. It’s also known for the famous Jacquet River Gorge. Hunting, fishing and various winter activities are also popular. 

Jaquet River Gorge

To see more pictures from the Belldune area, click on a thumbnail. 
 

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