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  • Shediac
    – A little-known strategic supply route

The dividing line between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is on the isthmus of Chignectou, between the Baie Verte and the Cumberland Basin. Its western part is formed by the Mésagouèche River (Missaguash River) which flows into the Cumberland Basin. At the end of August 1751, the French erected Fort Beauséjour at the mouth of the Mésagouèche River, and Fort Gaspareaux on the Baie Verte. A portage route was then laid out between Fort Gaspareaux and Fort Beauséjour for making it easier to supply food and ammunition. Previously, of course, the tools, materials and weapons required to build and defend Fort Beauséjour had to be transported. Despite its major strategic role, this old supply route was quickly abandoned and remains little known today…

Fort Beauséjour
Fort Beauséjour, Aulac, New Brunswick (author Verne Equinox, without modification, license CC BY SA 3.0)

Fort Beauséjour was a palisaded fort built on the north bank of the Mésagouèche River. It was necessary to counter the influence of Fort Lawrence, established by the British a year earlier on the opposite south bank, and thus defend the territory of New Brunswick under French sovereignty. Fort Beauséjour was constantly supplemented and strengthened until its commander’s capitulation in June 1755. It was then renamed “Fort Cumberland” by the British. It is now a National Historic Site of Canada recognized as Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland. Fort Gaspareaux, in turn, was a palisaded border outpost acquired by the British the day following the capitulation of Fort Beauséjour. It is distinctly recognized as Fort-Gaspareaux National Historic Site of Canada. Now let’s go back to the end of 1749, well before the construction of the two forts. The French were preparing for an imminent conflict at the provisional border on the isthmus of Chignectou, well aware that they had to act discreetly, away from the Baie Verte where British vessels from Nova Scotia were patrolling.

Two supply warehouses

Hall Creek in Moncton
Hall Creek in Moncton (author James Mann, without modification, license CC BY 2.0)

The Chevalier de La Corne was charged with establishing two supply warehouses, one in Shediac Bay, the other on the shores of the Shediac River, at the extreme limit of high tide. The French chose a supply route used for over 3000 years by the indeginous people, perfectly suited to transport by light canoe. It consisted of ascending the Shediac River to a portage route towards Hall Creek in order to join the Petitcodiac River at Le Coude (now Moncton), then paddling on the Chipoudy Bay to reach the Cumberland Basin. It was at Beauséjour’s Point (present-day Aulac) that La Corne set up his military camp. All supplies necessary to build and arm Fort Beauséjour and possibly Fort Gaspareaux were strategically dispatched to this particular site.

Today, what remains of these two military warehouses were probably abandoned after 1751. Researches to date appear to attest to the presence of one of the warehouses on the Shediac River, but the location of the other in Shediac Bay remains uncertain. The first Acadian pioneers did settle around 1767 in the Shediac Cape region. Was the second warehouse located at Shediac Cape on the mainland, or rather on Skull Island, which is gradually sinking into the bay? Time is of the essence. Before the end of the 21st century, for lack of underwater excavations, the island will have practically disappeared without revealing its secret…