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History

Nelson

ship

 

By Doug Underhill

The Community of Nelson-Miramichi became part of the City of Miramichi on January 1, 1995. Prior to that it was its own separate community and one of the oldest on the river. Earl J. Englishıs history of the community titled Nelson and Its Neighbours: 300 Years on the Miramichi published in 1987 lists it as "one of the oldest settlements on the Miramichi. It goes back to the time of William Davidson." English wrote that "According to J. L. OıBrien, the Parish of Nelson was first known as `Dowerıs Settlement, Southwest.ı"

The community of Nelson took its name after Lord Nelson, an Admiral in her Majestyıs Navy who died at the Battle of Trafalgar. English notes that there is a "legend that the spars for Lord Nelsonıs flagship Victory came from the Miramichi. There were some men from Nelson who sailed with Lord Nelson: Joseph Russell who was midshipman at the "Battle of the Nile" on the ship Vanguard."

English quotes historian W. F. Ganong as saying the an early Recollect Mission originally thought to have been establish at Burnt Church was actually at Nelson around 1686.

The history of Nelson is closely tied to that of Beaubearıs Island directly across from the heart of Nelson. The island was used as an encampment by Boieshebert whose followers set up while fleeing the English after the expulsion of the Acadiens. They camped there while heading for Quebec.

Later the island, which takes its name from Boieshebert misspelled in English form, was used extensively for shipbuilding.

By 1875 George Burchill and Sons had become extremely influential in the lumbering business and were a mainstay in the village almost to the present. In 1882 Harvey Flett established a brick yard which was later run by the Loggies until 1932.

Over the years there were a number of families who were involved in lumbering and logging. Nelson also had a woolen mill, carding mill, a tannery, schools churches, stores, post office, ferries, tugboats, a railroad connection, Beaubearıs Co-op Sore, fire-hall, village office, rec center, outdoor skating rink, a softball field. and a large modern papermill.

Nelson has had its famous sons. J. J. Fraser who was born on Beaubearıs Island became Lieutenant-Governor in 1893, and in the late 1940s and early 50s J. Leonard OıBrien also became Lieutenant-Governor of the province. G. Percival Burchill was a Senator. Paul Dawson became a provincial Cabinet Minister during the reign of Richard Hatfield. Brothers Doug and Blair Shanahan both received Lord Beaverbrook Scholarships making their family the only one in history to receive two such awards.

Nelson was a hot bed for softball within the province and has several people in the NB Softball hall of fame. It has hosted national championships.

Prior to amalgamation, Nelson was officially known as Nelson-Miramichi. It first incorporated as a village in 1967 with Byron Goodin as its first Mayor. At that time its population was between 1,500 and 2,000.

Today Nelson still maintains its history as part of the City of Miramichi. It is still a picturesque village that nestles along the south shore of the Miramichi River with its elegant older homes and two- spired St. Patrickıs Church.

Mighty Miramichi
www.mightymiramichi.com