Wilson's Point Trails
|Distance||1.6 km total|
|Estimated Time||45 mins|
|Surface Type||crushed rock|
|Elevation Change||17 metres|
|Maintenance Rating||well maintained|
The full size replica of the St. James Church (Church of Scotland) is across from the parking lot at Wilson's Point. The original church was built on this site in the year 1790. The Acadian Monument for the great deportation is in a field on the right of the access road just before the parking lot. The trail around the point starts on the other side of parking lot straight off the end of the access road. It is easy to find since there is a large iron gate where it starts. The trail around the point continues straight. There is a small trail on the right that leads down to the beach where there is a dock in the summer. The dock was historically the site of John Wilson's Wharf and ferry landing.
Continue on the path around the point and you will soon come to a historic graveyard. There are several old gravestones in the small clearing. There are small plaques beside some of the gravestones to to show what is on them. There are also several old gravestones throughout the woods surrounding the clearing. Several old stone benches can be found around the point.
Continue on the path around the point and you will soon come to a small bench in a shelter that looks across the point towards Beaubears Island. It is a short distance across to Beaubears Island but the water is quite deep. This is where the North West and South West branches of the Miramichi river meet so there are dangerous cross currents and undertows. Swimming is not advised. Continue around the point and you will have many views of the river. At low tide there is a sandbar along this side of the point to explore.
Eventually you will come to a junction in the trail with a directional sign. Turning left away from the river will take you through the woods and back to the church. Continuing straight will take you along an old road that is quite wet. The old road will end at a maintenance garage for the campground. The road to the left takes you out to the campground or continues to hit the paved access road that will take you back to the parking lot near the church.
There are many layers of history at Wilson's Point. It is the first point that splits the Miramichi River into the main North West Branch and South West Branch. This made it an important location for trade. Before the 1700s the point was inhabited by the Mi'kmaq. The strong relationships between the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq resulted in the point eventually becoming an Acadian settlement. The settlement was called the Camp de L'Esperence (Camp of Hope).
In the mid 1700s the settlement became an encampement for refugee Acadians following the great deportation. Acaidan commandant Charles Deschamps de Boisehébert established the encampement. Many of the inhabitants died in the following years after a supply ship from Quebec never arrived. It is said that there are as many as 800 people buried on the site from this period (Hubbard, 2004).
In 1765 the first English speaking settlers arrived from Scotland. William Davidson and John Cort were given a grant of 100,000 acres of land that included Wilson's Point and Beaubears Island. As a requirement the grants had to be cultivated and given to protestants over a 30 year period. William Davidson also started the first salmon fishery in the area and as a result a ship building industry. John Cort worked with Davidson on the fishery and the ship building industries.
By 1790 there was enough settlers in the area for a church to be built. The graveyards on site were already quite extensive. The church was used until 1832. In 1830 a church was built in Newcastle that drew most of the churchgoers away from Wilson's Point.
In the late 1700s John Willson, a New Jersey Loyalist, settled the area and helped develop a town on the site. In the early 1800s another John Wilson from Scotland settled in the area. He did many different jobs but was best known as the ferryman. Since this time the location was renamed Wilson's Point. By 1856 a bridge was built across the river and the ferry was no longer needed.
By the mid 1900s the site had deteriorated into deploreable shape. Lord Beaverbrook purchased the site, fixed it up, and then donated it to the province as a historic site. It continues as a historic site to this day.
Coming into or leaving the Miramichi on Route 8 take exit 163 to Red Bank then turn right towards Millerton. You will soon come to a junction where going straight will take you up and over a small single lane iron bridge over railway tracks. Cross this bridge and you will come to the entrance to the Enclosure campground. Just past the office on your right you will see a road and a large blue sign with an arrow showing the direction to Wilsons Point.
Just behind the office is a gate that is open most of the time. If the gate is open continue on this road. The road loops around the point and ends at the parking lot at Wilson's Point next to the church. If the gate is closed you can stop and ask about it at the office or you can continue on foot. The access road is just over 1 km and makes a nice walk.
From the Sign
William Davidson brought men here to work in the fishery, to cut lumber especially for the masting industry, to build ships and to settle along this river.
This memorial erected by the Scottish Heritage Association (Miramichi) in memory of the early scottish settlers who landed here in 1765. William Davidson of Banffshire, Scotland and John Cort of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, received a grant of 100,000 acres of land, including Beaubears Island and Beaubears Point (Wilson's Point).
The grant stipulated that one-third of the land be cultivated within the first ten years. Although the Scots were primarily concerned with the establishment of a fishery they did contribute to the settlement of this area.
Trail Last Hiked: December 3, 2022.
Page Last Updated: December 3, 2022.