New Brunswick Maps

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Townships, Counties and Parishes[edit | edit source]

The Townships established when New Brunswick was part of Nova Scotia did not last when it became a separate colony in June 1784. Soon after New Brunswick was divided into eight Counties for administrative purposes: Westmorland, St. John, Kings, Queens, Sunbury and Charlotte in the south of the region, with Northumberland covering the whole north east quarter of the colony and York taking in Fredericton to the south and the disputed north western quarter.

At present there are 15 counties: Albert County was cut out of Westmorland, Kent County from the southern part of Northumberland, Gloucester from the north east of Northumberland and Restigouche, along the river of that name, from Northumberland and York. Victoria and Carleton Counties were carved out of York as well, but Madawaska was only separated out of Victoria in 1873.

The County Guides issued (and posted on the Internet) by the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) explain the history of each county. Maps, and a table showing the changes and the dates they occurred will be found at the end of this section. Counties are divided into civil Parishes which you encounter usually as census districts. They are not the same as church parishes. Alan Rayburn names all parishes, and they are marked on the map included with his book. Otherwise, the quick way to check is on the Internet.[1]

Gazetteers and Maps[edit | edit source]

Place Names[edit | edit source]

Maritime place names have always baffled Upper Canadian radio announcers. A five stanza poem, “Sweet maiden of Passamaquoddy,” by James DeMilne, praises two brooks, the Skoodawabskooksis and the Skoodawabskook, telling us:

Meduxnekeag’s waters are bluer;
Nepisiguit’s pools are more black;
More green is the bright Oromocto
And browner the Petitcodiac…

You get the idea, and you can read the entire poem in Alan Rayburn’s essential reference work, Geographical Names of New Brunswick (1975), together with two interesting essays by W.F. Ganong on “place nomenclature.”

Dr. Ganong’s second paper examines the names the aboriginal inhabitants gave to places in New Brunswick, and notes those that remain in use. European settlers could not pronounce some of these names, but they were not very imaginative in finding new names. Alan Rayburn has four entries for “Salmon River” plus two for “Salmon Creek.” The Mirimichi River has many branches and it is easy to confuse the Southwest Branch with the Little Southwest branch. Rayburn’s book notes that the Little Southwest Mirimichi River flows east into the Northwest Mirimichi River, while the South Branch of the Southwest Mirimichi flows into the Southwest Mirimichi River. Confusing?

In other words, this is a book you should know about and use when you have to identify just where some early settler received a land grant, or what river he fished in, or drowned in. It is also useful in pinning down changes of name, at least up to 1975. More recently, the introduction of 911 emergency service saw more changes and additions. Robert F. Fellows has compiled Community Place Names in New Brunswick, Canada (Fredericton: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, c.1998), and this should cover the more recent alterations.

Rayburn’s entries will alert you to Acadian place names in translation or with variant spellings, such as “Bouctouche: See Buctouche” (page 60), and “Cape Bald: PO 1879-1903 and 1906-1947 at Cap Pelé” (page 70); it includes all the rural Post Offices, like one Mrs. Boudreau ran in a corner of her kitchen where she also baked and sold bread and rolls; the best smelling Post Office I have ever entered.

A recent gift to genealogists is a reprint of Lovell’s Gazetteer of British North America 1873 by Global Heritage Press in 1999. It lists cities, towns, villages and small post offices, as well as places like “Harvey Station” and “Painsec Junction” which came into existence when the railway went through. It tells which railroad, and gives the population, says if there are any shops, banks, hotels, whether a newspaper is published, and other useful information, some taken from the 1871 census.

Used in conjunction with Alan Rayburn’s 20th century information and excellent map in Geographical Names of New Brunswick, it should not be too difficult to locate most ancestor’s post office. Older road maps from the 1950s to 1970s, if you can find them, usually have most small communities marked, but modern tourist road maps are not much help.

Maps - Topographical[edit | edit source]

However, to really focus in on a region, try to locate the Canadian National Topographical Series of 1:50,000 (approximately 1.25 inches to a mile) maps, prepared in the 1950s. Based on military surveys of 1909-1917, they were revised after World War II using an R.C.A.F. aerial survey of 1950. Every building is shown, churches, schools, sawmills and cemeteries are identified, every road passable or otherwise, railroads, and quite a few abandoned rail tracks. When they were prepared at the end of WWII, one-room schools and old farms were still standing and it is possible to locate things on these maps that have now been swallowed by highway bypasses and vacation developments.

This series of maps is no longer available from the government, who update their survey maps regularly, but you should find them in most university map collections or geography departments. There are other detailed maps, look for a scale at least 1:250 000 (1 cm = 2.5 km/1 inch to approx. 4 miles); better yet 1: 50 000 (2 cm = 1 km/1 ¼ inch to 1 mile).

Maps - Historic[edit | edit source]

A series of “Historic facsimile maps”, issued by the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives, range from those of the earliest explorations (e.g. Champlain’s of 1653), to early 20th century. For New Brunswick (the province everyone forgets), however, there are very few. About the only detailed map is No. 71, A Map of the Great River St. John (Robert Campbell) 1788.

Map libraries aside, there are a great many late 18th and early 19th century maps of the Atlantic region. Joan Dawson’s The Mapmaker’s Eye: Nova Scotia Through Early Maps[2] will give you some idea of what exists, while Donald P. Lemon’s Theatre of Empire/Ambitions Impérialistes[3] is a splendid survey, with many colour plates, but the print can be difficult to read. It covers the whole of Atlantic Canada but includes some special detailed maps of regions of New Brunswick.

Most of the maps shown in these two books will be found in the National Map Collection (at LAC), some in university and rare book collections. Dealers in rare maps may have one or two in stock, and you can try surfing their webpages. Dr. Clarence Webster often used maps by his friend W.F. Ganong; who drew some fine maps of early New Brunswick settlements and military forts.

The three volume Historical Atlas of Canada is always helpful, the first volume showing early exploration and settlement, the second filled with social and economic data as well as genealogically useful information like the locations of British garrisons (Plate 24), Religious denominations (Plate 52) and the route of the Orange Day Parade in Saint John 1849 (Plate 58). Volume three moves into the 20th century with even more helpful social and economic information.

Cadastral Maps[edit | edit source]

These are maps that show the actual borders of each lot of land with the name of the grantee. Copies are held by the PANB and the Lands Branch of the Department of Natural Resources. Copies can be obtained from the Lands Branch for a fee. These can be useful in showing the names of neighbours, and so possible spouses, the location of churches and graveyards.

As well, the Archives has other maps and survey plans, containing information on boundaries, landforms, fortifications, waterways, railways, roads, and the growth of communities. These are indexed by category or purpose, geographical location, and name of cartographer or surveyor.

Crown land surveys represent the largest and most frequently consulted group of cartographic records. Approximately 10,000 plans for the 19th and 20th centuries show boundaries, allocation of land, and tracts reserved for timber and mineral resources, mills, wharves, roads and railways.[4]

Maps - On The Internet[edit | edit source]

  • New Brunswick GenWeb Project has links to the various County GenWeb pages, which have maps showing the civil parishes, information that can be difficult to find.

County Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Map as of 1786[edit | edit source]

Map of New Brunswick Counties as of 1786


Map as of 1827[edit | edit source]

Map of New Brunswick Counties as of 1827

New Brunswick Counties 1827.jpg

Map as of 1832[edit | edit source]

Map of New Brunswick Counties as of 1832

New Brunswick Counties 1832.jpg

Map as of 1838[edit | edit source]

Map of New Brunswick Counties as of 1838

New Brunswick Counties 1838.jpg

Map as of 1845[edit | edit source]

Map of New Brunswick Counties as of 1845

New Brunswick Counties 1845.jpg

Map as of 1850[edit | edit source]

Map of New Brunswick Counties as of 1850

New Brunswick Counties 1850.jpg

Map as of 1873 - Present[edit | edit source]

Map of New Brunswick Counties as of 1873 - To Present

New Brunswick Counties 1873.jpg


References[edit | edit source]

  1. Fellows, Robert F., Researching Your Ancestors in New Brunswick Canada (1979), pages 253-254, has a map showing Parishes and Counties of New Brunswick. The same map is printed in Generations, Issue 48, June 1991, pages 12-13, with an explanation of regional governments; and it is posted on the Internet through the New Brunswick GenWeb Project.
  2. Dawson, Joan, The Mapmakers's Eye: NovaScotia Through Early Maps (Halifax Nova Scotia: Nibmus Publishing and the Nova Scotia Museum, 1988)
  3. Lemon, Donald P., Theatre of Empire/Ambitions Imperialistes (Saint John New Brunswick: New Brunswick Museum Publications, 1987).
  4. New Brunswick Property and Land (National Institute)
  5. Douglas, Althea. "New Brunswick Gazetteers and Maps (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),
  6. Douglas, Althea. "New Brunswick County Maps (National Institute)," The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),