Dalhousie

Dalhousie Town Hall

Dalhousie

Dalhousie, the northernmost point in New Brunswick, is nestled in the Restigouche River valley where the river meets Chaleur Bay. This hilly region, part of the Appalachian mountain range, features the town situated on a hillside above sea level, with some development to the south on a low ridge about 260 meters high. Surrounded by salt and fresh water bodies, the area is home to diverse wildlife, unique birds, and fish, and boasts abundant natural resources.

Dalhousie Marina

Facing Miguasha, Quebec on the Gaspé Peninsula to the north, Dalhousie is 20 km west of Campbellton and 80 km southeast of Bathurst along Chaleur Bay’s shore. No major centers lie south of Dalhousie, as it is the province’s undeveloped and heavily forested geographic center.

John Hamilton Monument

Dalhousie, the shire town of Restigouche County, has a European settlement history dating back to 1800. Captain John Hamilton, a native of Kingscross Arran, Scotland, was the first merchant to settle in Dalhousie. He contributed significantly to the community, including building St. Johns Presbyterian Church.

The town experienced various distinct periods from its founding in 1825 until today. Before 1825, the northern part of the province attracted little interest. However, the Great Miramichi Fire in that year devastated central New Brunswick and Maine’s forests, the province’s economic backbone. Lumbermen turned their attention north to the Nipisiguit and Restigouche’s vast pine forests.

Dalhousie grew rapidly, with lumber and fishing becoming the primary industries, and agriculture playing a more significant role in the early days than it does today.

Dalhousie Lighthouse

The town led the area until the Intercolonial Railway (ICR) arrived after confederation, bypassing Dalhousie due to its steep hills and allowing nearby Campbellton to thrive. This situation changed in the late 1920s when Dalhousie became the site for a massive paper mill. The International Paper Company built one of the world’s largest newsprint mills at the time, transforming the town forever. From 1929 onwards, the mill dominated life in Dalhousie. The deepwater port also attracted ships transporting ore from the Bathurst Mining Camp deposits to offshore smelters.

Older residents often reminisce about the town being better before the mill, which now occupies a significant portion of the main street, obstructing access to and views of the shore. Dalhousie is often called “a waterfront town without a waterfront.” The mill brought a high average income and a different kind of prosperity, but the town became dependent on this single industry.

George Ramsay
Governor General George Ramsay

The town site, established by Scottish settlers in 1827, was first laid out in 1826. It was named after the 9th Earl of Dalhousie, then governor of both Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Some Acadians displaced during the Great Upheaval also settled in Dalhousie, and today there remains a close balance between anglophones and francophones. Many residents can trace their ancestry back to the region’s original European settlers. The Eel River Bar First Nation, near Dalhousie, is home to many Micmac natives, the region’s original inhabitants.

Inch Arran Hotel Dalhousie
Inch Arran Hotel

Dalhousie evolved into a tourist destination after the Intercolonial Railway was built through the area in 1875. The Inch Arran Hotel, constructed in 1884, capitalized on the area’s beautiful beaches and sheltered location. Distinguished guests such as Sir John A. MacDonald, Sir Charles Tupper, and Lord Stanley enjoyed the hotel’s amenities, including long verandas, billiards rooms, and bowling alleys, before it burned down in 1921.

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