The trail system that traversed through New Brunswick predated many of the roads we see today. This is evident when comparing the roads that run parallel to the province’s rivers and streams. As technology and transportation needs evolved, so did the road system. The outer regions and areas along inland waters were the first to be inhabited and paved with roads, often using existing trails and paths.
In 1836 the Saint John Stage Coach Company and the Woodstock and Fredericton Stage Coach Company were founded by an act of the Legislative Assembly.
Scheduled stagecoach services were introduced before 1850, running from the north of the province to Nova Scotia, through Bathurst and Miramichi, and from Sackville to Saint John and St. Andrews, then from Saint John to Fredericton. Today, these routes coincide with modern highways.
The emergence of the automobile in the 1920s led to the establishment of a modern road system in New Brunswick, which was used primarily during the summer. During winter, horse-drawn sleds were the only vehicle capable of navigating through the snowbanks. Motorists initially drove on the left side of the road but eventually switched to the right, imitating the practice in the United States. However, this change was challenging for people who were accustomed to the British practice.
As the 20th century progressed, buses became a popular mode of public transportation, and trucks were used for hauling goods. Stagecoaches slowly became obsolete, but they had played a crucial role in establishing the province’s first roads.
In the 1830s, the St. John Stage Coach Company operated a scheduled weekly run from Saint John to Amherst, lasting two days. Another stagecoach departed Saint John for Fredericton, with return trips on alternating days. Travellers were provided with a meal, a room for the night, and other amenities at the relay stations, which included a court of law, post office, religious services, and trading posts. These relay stations eventually evolved into hotels.
The stagecoach was ultimately replaced by faster and more comfortable transportation modes such as the train and bus.
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