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Beaubears Island
Nelson boat launch and Beaubears Island in the distance

Beaubears Island
by Joyce LeBlanc, Friends of Beaubears Island

Beaubears Island is an incredibly unique place. It is an island, in the middle of the city, with a culturally rich history and a place of great natural beauty. The Island is one of only a few places in Canada where it is recognised as a National Historic Site for two different designations, the Acadian Expulsion and shipbuilding. It is also one of the last remaining places in Atlantic Canada consisting of untouched original old growth forest. The trees predate the 1755 Expulsion!


The Island is named after Charles DesChamp de Boishébert, who brought as many as 3500 Acadians to the Island and surrounding areas over 250 years ago, making this area the largest Acadian refugee settlement in New Brunswick during the Acadian Expulsion.

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The view from the boat
Kayakers - the view from the boat to Beaubears Island

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Our Guide
Costumed Guide on the boat to Beaubears Island

The Island was once a busy shipbuilding site operating for close to 100 years. You can still see the foundations and the remains of what was once a thriving community. Black smith shops, row houses for the shipbuilders and a warehouse are some of the foundations that are still visible today.


It is also home to the sacred tomb of the Russell children, a 12-x12 stone structure with Iron bars that most people believe to be a jail. I can understand the confusion not only because of the bars but the fact that there is no headstone for the seven children being housed there.


Their father Joseph Russell, owner of the Island, shipbuilder and Mormon, had this built in 1847 before leaving for Utah and never again to return to his beloved children and Island. This is why I believe he placed the bars on the window, to protect them knowing that he would never return. And he never did. It is indeed a special and spiritual place.


One of the great things about the Island is that nobody has lived there for over a hundred years. It's as if time stood still.


Beaubears Island has been recently designated a National Historic Site for shipbuilding because it is the only place left in Canada untouched for 19th Century shipbuilding.

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Boat Lauch
Where the Tour Begins in Nelson

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On the tip of Beaubears with our tour Guide

Friends of Beaubears Island Inc. offer historical walking tours of the island led by guides dressed in period costume. On the Island you will encounter various characters from the 18th century. They really do bring the pioneers to life! We promote the cultural and historical significance of Beaubears Island with representation from the Aboriginal, Acadian and Scottish people with the significance to the early Mormon religion.


You may also be interested to know that one of the Fathers of Confederation Peter Mitchell, a shipbuilder, once owned the island.


An Interpretative Centre is located across the river from the island in Nelson and has free admission daily. We exhibit Miramichi shipbuilding photos, literature and artefacts from the island and surrounding areas. Tourism Ambassadors are available at the centre to discuss the cultural diversity of the island and to answer any questions.


Don't miss the boat! Come with us to Beaubears Island.


In July and August, tours depart every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 pm. Tickets are $8 each or $25 for a family of four.


For reservations call 506.622.8526. For more information email us at or visit our website

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