Oromocto

Oromocto Marina

Oromocto

Incorporated in 1956, Oromocto sits at the confluence of the Oromocto and Saint John rivers, just 22 km southeast of Fredericton. Historically, the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) named the Oromocto River Wel-a-mook’-took, meaning “deep water”, in reference to its ideal canoeing conditions. The town’s northeastern boundary touches the Oromocto First Nation

Oromocto First Nation Pow Wow
Oromocto First Nation Pow Wow

One of the earliest land sales in the Maritime Provinces occurred here, with Mathieu d’Amours securing a deed on March 16, 1693. His property, located across the St. John River from the Oromocto River’s mouth, became his homestead. 

The village was initially an Acadian village. During the Expulsion of the Acadians, the village was burned in the St. John River Campaign (1758).

Anticipating an American invasion during the American Revolution, especially with the thriving English communities in Maugerville/Sheffield, a blockhouse was built on the Oromocto riverbank in 1777. Although the anticipated invasion never materialized, the blockhouse was reconstructed during the war of 1812.

Oromocto Blockhouse Replica

By this period, Hazen, White and Simons had set up a successful trading post at the river’s mouth, catering to Sunbury County and its northern neighbors. Notably, Sir Douglas Hazen, a descendant of the original Hazen from Oromocto, served as New Brunswick’s Premier between 1908 and 1911.

Following the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in 1783, the area flourished. As the initial settlers passed away or relocated, new settlers ventured in. They eventually branched out, founding nearby communities like Geary, Lincoln, and Rusagonis.

Shipbuilding had become prominent in Oromocto and Burton by 1833. Many large ships of that era had their origin in local shipyards. The town even hosted masting operations from as early as 1700. However, the age of sail waned by 1877, and Oromocto’s bustling life ebbed. During its shipbuilding days, Oromocto produced about 22 ships.

By 1919, two significant fires, including one sparked by the River Valley Lumber Company, decimated the town, destroying homes, stores, and churches.

Despite these setbacks, Oromocto remained an intellectual hub. It became home or birthplace to luminaries in New Brunswick and Canadian history, including Theodore Estabrooks of Red Rose Tea fame, Confederation Father from the Wilmot family, and early Canadian novelist Julia Beckwith Hart. Additionally, significant figures like Benedict Arnold engaged with the region. 

Benedict Arnold
Benedict Arnold

Throughout the years, the area has been represented by vibrant personalities in federal and provincial governance, such as S.D.L. Street, Hugh Havelock McLean, James Glennie, and Victoria Cross awardee, Milton F. Gregg.

Tank at CFB Gagetown NB

In 1952, the establishment of a military base marked a pivotal change for Oromocto, sparking a surge in its population. Currently, Oromocto is home to C.F.B. Gagetown and the Combat Training Centre, which is the most extensive facility of the British Commonwealth and the primary employer in the town. This period saw Oromocto emerge as a “model town,” a concept it pioneered in Canada.

The Canadian National Railway discontinued its service on the railway line passing through Oromocto to CFB Gagetown in March 1996. Today, this former railway path has been transformed into a recreational trail, becoming a part of the “Sentier NB Trail” network. The trail segment connecting Fredericton, Oromocto, and Burton is also a part of the Trans Canada Trail.

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One thought on “Oromocto

  1. Found this very interesting; especially how it was the first land grant way back in the 1600 to a French man. Then later to the British in the 1700s. A great description of history. However no mention of First Nations people just that they lost their land.

    A great description of ownership through the years.

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