NB Facts

Did you know that sardine cans and snow blowers were invented in New Brunswick? From a place where cars roll uphill and rivers flow backwards, here are some New Brunswick facts worth knowing.

Also see our Famous New Brunswickers pages.

  1. New Brunswick is home to the warmest saltwater beaches north of Virginia.
  2. New Brunswick has the world’s largest lobster. The sculpture is 11 meters long (35 feet), 5 meters tall (16 feet) and weighs in at an astonishing 90 tonnes or about 198,416 pounds! You’ll find the lobster in Shediac, NB, aptly dubbed “The Lobster Capital of The World.” (Other large things to see in NB)
  3. McCain Foods Limited , the multi-billion dollar company famous for its frozen French fries, is Canadian born. The McCain brothers’ first French fry plant was created in 1957 in their hometown of Florenceville, New Brunswick. One third of the world’s French Fries come from New Brunswick.
  4. The largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere, and the second largest in the world (the Maelstrom Whirlpool of Norway holds the title of the world’s largest whirlpool) can be found between Deer Island and Indian Island, New Brunswick and can be viewed from Eastport, Maine. The whirlpool is called “Old Sow” because of the sounds it produces.  According to BayofFundy.com, “Old Sow is reported to be most active about 3 hours before high tide. This activity continues for about two hours and takes the form of a collection of small gyres, troughs, spouts and holes and on the rare occasion will form one large funnel. This area, which has been reported to be as wide as 76 meters (250 feet) in diameter, can best be described as turbulent water. However, during spring tides (high water tide caused by a full or new moon) combined with high winds or a tidal surge will increase Old Sow’s activity causing more intense funnels and formations.”
  5. Established in 1785, the University of New Brunswick was the first English-speaking university in Canada and the first public university in North America.
  6. The first Miss Canada, Winnifred Blair, was from Saint John, New Brunswick. She was crowned on February 10, 1923.
  7. Where are the highest tides in the world? The Bay of Fundy, of course! Tourism New Brunswick say, “They rise at a rate of one metre (3.3 feet) per hour. The tides yield many edible treasures, among them mineral-rich sea salt and “dulse” – dried seaweed, which can be eaten as a snack or used to flavor soups and stews.”
  8. Due to the Bay of Fundy’s incredible tides, the Saint John River flows backwards twice a day, every day. According to GreatCanadianRivers.com, “Then, a startling phenomenon occurs. The water level in the Bay of Fundy continues to rise above the level of the river. The force of the incoming tide overpowers the current of the outgoing river, and the water of the Saint John begins to flow upstream – completely in reverse. New rapids form in the river, flowing in the other direction, and the effect of the tide is felt as far upriver as the city of Fredericton, almost 120 kilometres northwest of Saint John.”
  9. The longest covered bridge in the world can be found in Hartland, New Brunswick. The covered bridge is 390 meters (1282 feet) long. (Other large things to see in NB)
  10. The oldest Canadian museum is found in Saint John, New Brunswick. “Although many people are aware that Saint John, New Brunswick, is Canada’s oldest incorporated city, few are aware that it houses Canada’s oldest continuing museum. The New Brunswick Museum was officially incorporated as the “Provincial Museum” in 1929 and received its current name in 1930. Its history, however, can be traced back another 87 years to 1842, when Gesner’s Museum of Natural History opened to the public in Saint John.” says the New Brunswick Museum website.
  11. Moncton, is home to Magnetic Hill. Objects seemingly roll uphill on Magnetic Hill. Put your car in neutral and, like magic, your car will roll uphill all on its own!
  12. Canada’s foremost performer of old-time fiddle music, Don Messer, was born near Harvey Station. Messer gained national recognition on his CBC television show, “Don Messer’s Jubilee”.
  13. The oldest university building in Canada (1829) is still in use on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton, the Old Arts Building, officially known as Sir Howard Douglas Hall.
  14. Sir William Van Horne, the force behind the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, purchased Ministers Island in 1890. His summer retreat near St. Andrews has been opened to visitors.
  15. Actor and movie star, Donald Sutherland, father of “24” star Keifer Sutherland, was introduced to the theatre through puppet classes at the New Brunswick museum in Saint John.
  16. The Acadian Flag was adopted in 1884, and the original flag is on exhibit at the Musée Acadian, located in the Clément-Cormier Pavilion of the Université de Moncton.
  17. Andrew Bonar Law, the Canadian-born son of a Scottish Clergyman, who was born in Rexton, became the Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1922. His 1870s home and birthplace remains open to the public for tours.
  18. Sir Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook), one of the Commonwealth’s most famous figures, called Miramichi home. Learn more about his legacy at Beaverbrook House, in Miramichi. Several buildings in his memory, or to which he contributed financially, are present in Fredericton. These include the Lord Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Aitken Centre Arena, the Playhouse Theatre, and Aitken House residence at the University of New Brunswick, to name a few.
  19. Boston Red Sox starter, the late Ted Williams, was an expert fly-fisherman, who spent summers also spent summers fishing Bass and Salmon on Spednic lake at McAdam and on the Miramichi River.
  20. The Village of Plaster Rock is known as the home of the annual World Pond Hockey Championships.
  21. Moosehead Brewery, in Saint John, is Canada’s oldest independent brewery.
  22. The St. John River was originally known as “Madawaska”, derived from “Madoueskak”, a Maliseet word meaning “Land of the Porcupine”. Madawaska lives on in the “Republic” of Madawaska, as well as being the name of a tributary of the St. John River, a county in New Brunswick and a town on the Maine side of the US/Canada border.
  23. During the colonial era, lumber from this region was very much in demand, especially by the Royal Navy. It is said that Admiral Horatio Nelson went to war during the Battle of Trafalgar with a fleet whose masts were forged from white pine, floated from Edmundston, down the St. John River.
  24. After over 40 years of wrangling, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (known officially as the Treaty of Washington), finally established the St. John River as the international boundary between northern New Brunswick and Maine. The treaty was signed on August 9, 1842.
  25. The French spoken in the Northern New Brunswick region is called “brayon” – a term derived from the textile industry. Brayon (which can also refer to the people themselves) is a blend of Quebecois and Acadian French, with a sprinkling of American English and Scots/Irish idioms thrown in for good measure.
  26. The fertile, alkaline soil of the St. John River Valley is ideal for the cultivation of potatoes. Some farmers plant their crops in a traditional manner, according to the phases of the moon. Scattered along the roads on both sides of the border, you can sometimes spot small stone sheds built into the side of a grassy mound, where potatoes were stored.
  27. The first female sea captain in North America is from Alma, New Brunswick. Molly Kool was the first mate on her father’s 70-foot freighter, transporting lumber and gypsum through the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine after passing her sea captain’s exam in 1939. She captained for five years before marrying and settling in Orrington, Maine.
  28. The first railway “flanger” used in the world which was invented by a black Frederictonian, John Hamilton. These were sometimes called a “cow-catcher”.
  29. Theodore Harding Estabrooks was born in Wicklow  in 1861. He went into business in 1894 on Dock Street in downtown Saint John. He was a local business leader that came up with a great idea… produce and pack a quality blended tea that was consistent from cup to cup. He founded Red Rose Tea in 1890. In 1929, Red Rose introduced tea bags for the first time.
  30. The World’s Largest Axe is located in Nackawic. The axe stands 15 metres (49 ft) tall and weighs over 55 tons. The axe-head is 7 metres (23 ft) wide. The concrete stump is 10 metres (33 ft) in diameter. It was commissioned, designed and built in 1991 by a company in Woodstock. There is a time capsule embedded in the head of the axe. (Other large things to see in NB)
  31. The World’s Largest Artificial Maple Leaf statue  is located in Millville.  (Other large things to see in NB)
  32. Mount Allison University was the first university in the British Empire to award a baccalaureate to a woman (Grace Annie Lockhart, B.Sc, 1875).
  33. New Brunswick’s name originated from the name of the duchy of New Brunswick in Germany, who was in possession of Britain’s King George III in 1794, the year the province was established.
  34. Based on the provincial coat of arms, New Brunswick’s flag was adopted in 1965.  A galley ship in the yellow background symbolizes the importance of shipbuilding in the province, as it sails on waves of white and blue.  The lion at the top of the flag represents the connection between New Brunswick and England.
  35. Coat of Arms: The shield on the coat of arms, which links the province of New Brunswick with England and the United Kingdom through the lion and celebrates the provinces maritime location and shipbuilding and seafaring heritage, was assigned by Queen Victoria in 1868.  Other features of the coat of arms were assigned by Queen Elizabeth II in 1984, during her visit to the capital, Fredericton.
  36. Provincial Flower: The purple violet (Viola cucullata), a perennial which blooms between May and July.  It was adopted in 1936, at the request of the Women’s Institute.
  37. NB Provincial Tree: The balsam fir (Abies balsamea) was proclaimed to be an official symbol of New Brunswick on May 1, 1987 .  Important today in the lumbering and pulp and paper industries, the balsam fir is one of the best Christmas trees on the market and adapts easily to a wide range of growing conditions.
  38. Provincial Bird: The black-capped chickadee was proclaimed as the official bird of New Brunswick in August 1983, following a contest conducted by the provincial Federation of Naturalists. A small, tame acrobatic bird, the chickadee is distinctly patterned with a combination of a black cap and bib, white cheeks and buff sides. Its distinctive “chickadee-dee-dee” call is heard throughout the year. Its clear, high-whistled “phe-be, phe-be-be” call is a signal spring has arrived.
  39. Provincial Salmon Fly: Designed by Warren Duncan, this salmon fly was created using a tag of gold to symbolize the value of Atlantic Salmon in New Brunswick.  It also includes a butt of green in honour of the fiddlehead; a tail or red goose fibers matching that of the Canadian flag, to represent our national ties; a cranberry red body, as it is one of our province’s official colours; a rib of medium oval gold tinsel; a hackle of lemon yellow representing the background colour of New Brunswick’s flag, and a wing of hair from the black bear and a head of black.
  40. Provincial Tartan: The provincial tartan was designed by the Loomcrofters of Gagetown, N.B., and officially adopted in 1959. It is registered at the Court of The Lord Lyon, King of Arms in Scotland . Represented in the design are the forest green of lumbering, the meadow green of agriculture, the blue of coastal and inland waters, all interwoven with gold, a symbol of the province’s potential wealth. The red blocks represent the loyalty and devotion of the early Loyalist settlers and the Royal New Brunswick Regiment.

New Brunswick Inventions:  

  • The blueprint was invented by George Taylor of Fredericton in response to the needs of the Crown Lands Department.
  • The underwater cable ferry in 1904, William Pitt, Reed’s Point, NB.
  • Scuba tank, James Elliot and Alexander McAvity, Saint John, 1839.
  • Variable pitch propellor, Wallace Rupert Turnbull, Saint John.
  • McDonald’s Restaurants “McFlurry“, invented by Ron McLellan of Bathurst, 1995.
  • Vortex-flushing toilet bowl, Thomas MacAvity Stewart, Saint John. 1907 
  • Thermal Windowpane, a window with two glass panes separated by a hollow space, hermetically sealed and filled with alcohol was patented by Lawrence McCloskey, Boiestown. 1917 
  • Fog horn, Robert Foulis, Saint John.
  • Compound steam engine, Benjamin F. Tibbets, Fredericton, 1845. 
  • Rotary Ventilator, which uses wind power to increase the updraft in chimneys or roof vents was patented by James T. Lipsett, Saint John. 1889.
  • The “Long reacher” skate invented by James Welply, Saint John. It advanced the 19th century speed skating tradition – mid 1850’s.
  • Snow blower, Robert Carr Harris, Dalhousie, 1870. 
  • Sardine cans, Henry T. Austin, Black’s Harbour, 1932. 
  • Clothes washer with roller wringer, John E. Turnbull, Saint John, 1843. 
  • Combined hot and cold water faucets, Thomas Campbell, Saint John, 1880. 
  • Crossword game, Edward R. MacDonald, Shediac, 1926. 
  • Dump-box for trucks, Robert T. Mawhinney, Saint John, 1920. 
  • Ganong Brothers Ltd., St. Stephen, are the first in Canada to produce lollipops (1895), to use cellophane packaging (1920), to make peppermint rolls (1926), and to sell Valentine candy in heart-shaped boxes (1932).

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