Hillsborough is a small town located in Albert County. The history of Hillsborough dates back to the mid-18th century when it was settled by Acadian and British families.
During the 1750s, Acadian settlers established a small community in the area, which they called “Peticodiac.” However, the community was destroyed during the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755, and many of the residents were deported to other parts of North America.
On September 4, 1755, the Battle of Petitcodiac was fought near Hillsborough. After the capture of Fort Beausejour during the Seven Years’ War, in an attempt to gain control over the region, the British sent a punitive expedition consisting of two companies of British colonial troops into the Petitcodiac River Valley to destroy the Acadian settlements located there. While the main body finished their operation on the eastern bank, a detachment was dispatched to the western bank. When the detachment under Major Joseph Frye approached Blanchard’s Village, located near where Hillsborough now stands, it encountered French forces under the command of Captain Charles Deschamps de Boishébert and was driven off with heavy losses. The site is marked by a National Historic Sites and Monument plaque.
In 1766, a group of settlers arrived in the area led by Matthias Somers, Michael Lutz, Jacob Trietz (Trites), Charles Jones, and Heinrich Stieff (Steeves). Heinrich Steeves had seven sons and the name Steeves is still common among residents.
Hillsborough gained prominence in the 19th century due to the discovery of a rare hydrocarbon mineral called Albertite, named after Albert County in which the village is located. The Albertite mines in Hillsborough were some of the first petroleum mines in the world, and the mineral was used for various industrial purposes, including street lighting and fuel for steamships. The industry boomed in the 1850s and 1860s, but declined in the late 19th century due to the rise of petroleum.
In addition to Albertite, gypsum and limestone have also been mined in the Hillsborough area. These materials were used for construction and agriculture purposes, contributing to the local economy throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
During this time the company operated a gypsum mine, four quarries, a private railway, and a plaster mill.
When opened in 1854 the plaster mill was the largest in Canada. From this mill, high grade gypsum was manufactured into plaster and shipped to markets all over of the world. The mill also produced lower quality grey and pink gypsum.
The railway played a significant role in the growth of Hillsborough, connecting it to larger urban centers like Moncton and Saint John. The railway facilitated the transportation of goods and people, helping to develop the region economically. The Railway Museum is a must-see while visiting Hillsborough.
Hillsborough is known for its picturesque natural attractions, such as the Bay of Fundy, which features the highest tides in the world. Other natural sites include the nearby Hopewell Rocks, the Hillsborough River, and wetlands that provide important habitat for wildlife.
Today, Hillsborough is a small village with a population of around 1,200 people. While the mining industry has largely faded, the community continues to thrive, focusing on tourism, small businesses, and celebrating its rich history and natural beauty.
Click on a thumbnail to see historic Hillsborough properties.
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