Beaubears Island National Historic Site Trails
|Estimated Time||2 hours|
|Elevation Change||18 metres|
|Features||historic site, memorials|
|Maintenance Rating||well maintained|
From Fredericton come into the Miramichi on Route 8 and cross the bridge over the Southwest Miramichi. Continue for 4.3 km to a roundabout and continue on route 8 to the right. After going over the hill you will cross another bridge on the main Miramichi. When crossing the bridge you should be able to see Beaubears Island on your right. Continue across the bridge and turn right at a second roundabout. In a short distance turn right again, then shortly after take a left and follow the river. After 1.4 km you will come to Nelson Rural School on your left. Directly across from the school, on the river, is the Beaubears Island interpretive Centre.
From Bathurst come into the Miramichi on Route 8 and cross the Centennial bridge over the Miramichi river. Continue for just over 1 km and take exit 119. Turn right and continue on route 8. After 7.4 km you will come to a roundabout. Continue around the roundabout and exit to the left. After the roundabout take the next right, then shortly after take a left and follow the river. After 1.4 km you will come to Nelson Rural School on your left. Directly across from the school on the river is the Beaubears Island interpretive Centre.
From Rogersville come into the Miramichi on Route 126. After a sharp turn you will pass a mill site on the left then a long field. After the field turn left onto Sutton Road. At the bottom of the hill near the river turn left. After a short distance you will come to Nelson Rural School on your left. Directly across from the school on the river is the Beaubears Island interpretive Centre.
A tour boat is available during the summer months. For a schedule and reservations go to Beaubears Island.
For details on a paddling route around the island check out the Beaubears Island Loop.
We have also snowshoed to the island in the winter time. We advise you not to snowshoe to the island unless you know how to check the ice for safety. Not only is the river salt water at this point, but it is also tidal making for unpredictable ice conditions.
Beaubears Island is a National Historic Site that is steeped in history. The island is named after Charles Deschamps de Boishébert who led the Acadians to Beaubears Island to seek refuge after the deportation in 1755 by the British. The island then enjoyed several hundred years in the ship building industry and is now an extensive archaeological site. There are still several artefacts on the island. To bring the history to life make sure you sign up for one of the Tours Through Time (see video below) where actors relive the history of the island while you explore the site. For more history of the island see Beaubears Island in the From The Sign section of the Strawberry Marsh page. For even more history of the island you can pick up a copy of Fair Winds and Rough Fortunes: A History of Beaubears Island by local historian and Tours Through Time actor Shawn McCarthy.
There are three main trails on Beaubears Island. A main trail (Quoomenegook Trail) cuts straight through the center of the island and was historically an old road. This trail is surrounded by large pines. While they aren't yet as large as what was used in the ship building industry, they are still quite impressive. The other two trails run along the shore on the northwest (Boishébert Trail) and southeast (Shipyard Trail) sides of the island. The trails run parallel to each other for the length of the long narrow island. There are several access trails between them.
At one end of the island, where you get off the boat, is the main historic site including the dock, signs, a playground, a picnic area, the Russell Tomb, the lookout at the point, and several depressions in the ground where buildings used to stand. The far end of the island ends at the shore overlooking Wilson's Point, another historic site.
About 2/3 the way down the island a small side trail accesses the north-west shore of the island. The end of this trail provides views of the old UPM-Kymmene pulpmill site to the left and of Strawberry Marsh to the right.
From the Sign
Flight to Safety
Beaubears Island formed an essential part of Charles Deschamps de Boishébert's Camp d'Esperance, which sheltered thousands of Acadians fleeing deportation in the 1750s.
The refugees hoped that the Miramichi was safe, and the salmon fishery would allow them a better chance to survive. Provisions were to be sent from Quebec to the Miramichi but were delayed and then postponed indefinitely. Those Acadians who were able undertook a treacherous and freezing journey to Pokemouche where they fished; eighty-three men died on the first trip alone. Tragically, hundreds died from destitution and starvation, a dreadful end for a people who once had plenty.
From the Sign
Timber to Majestic Vessels
Beaubears Island's central river location, gentle-sloping shoreline, proximity to deep water, and plentiful supply of local timber made it an ideal site for shipbuilding.
The Miramichi area's 24 shipyards produced over 400 vessels, making it New Brunswick's third most important ship producer after Saint John area and St. Martins, and second after the Saint John area in tonnage produced.
Today, white pine is still the dominant tree on the Island, but red spruce, balsam fir, white cedar and red maple are also to be found. The Island is also home to 323 different varieties of vascular plants, including 69 introduced species.
From the Sign
Wilson's Point Lookout
Wilson's Point, across from the Island, housed the main encampment which sheltered thousands of Acadians fleeing deportation in the 1750s.
Noted militia leader Joseph "Beausoleil" Broussard also spent time here and gathered supplies and men in 1760 for his continued fights against the invading British.
The Scottish Interpretation Centre at Wilson's Point presents the history of the early Scots who began settling in the Miramichi area in the 1760s under leadership of entrepreneur William Davidson. Davidson was buried on the Point in 1790, along with many of Miramichi's first English settlers, in one of the area's oldest graveyards, which is still visible today.
Trail Last Hiked: August 27, 2022.
Page Last Updated: November 13, 2022.