In 2008, Shippagan is celebrating 50 years of incorporation as a town, but it was actually settled much longer ago than that.
The first European families settled here in the 1790s. From that time on, the region continued to evolve as more and more families arrived. In 1861, there were already 740 people living in Shippagan.
However, like many areas of the Acadian Peninsula, the area was already well known to the Mi’kMaqs, nomads who called it Sepagun-chiche, meaning duck passage. This name was made up of three different roots: sebaase (to pass), owokun (portage or passage) and chiche (duck).
As early as 1656, the Latin name Cibaguensi could be found in some documents. Towards the 1700s, there were several ways to write the name, including Chipagan, which was used until 1800. Over time, the use of Shippegan, or Shippagan as we know it today, became the norm.
On maps and other documents, Shippagan represented quite a large area that was known as Greater Shippagan, or TaylorIsland. As the years passed, the territory was geographically defined to become what we know today as the Town of Shippagan.
From neighbouring Miscou Island and its first settlements in the early 17th century, Shippagan saw white men very early on, as indicated by the writings and geographic maps of the time.
But it was only around 1790 that it had its first permanent inhabitants, brothers François and Jacquot Duguay and their brother-in-law Jean Mallet, all Normans from Paspébiac, Quebec. They were followed soon after by the first Acadian inhabitant, Jean-Baptiste Robichaud.
In the ensuing years, the Goupil, Hébert, Chiasson, DeGrâce, Haché, Savoie, Blanchard, Roussel, DeLaGarde, Larocque, Bulger, Paquet and other families settled in the area, forming the nucleus of the population.
According to data from Statistics Canada, the town counted 2 754 inhabitants in 2006.
An evolving economy
Throughout the first half of the last century, Shippagan’s seaport was put to good use for ship building and transporting lumber overseas. Several companies, including Witzell & Topham, the Cunards of the famous transatlantic shipping line, and the Woolners, had flourishing businesses at the time.
Like everywhere else in the last century, the export lumber industry experienced drastic declines, but the fishing industry continued to expand, so much so that Shippagan became the province’s largest fishing centre. It is therefore no surprise that every year, Shippagan invites its friends to celebrate the N.B. Fisheries and Aquaculture Festival, which attracts thousands.
In the past thirty years, however, a serious competitor to the fishing industry has developed. The vast plains surrounding Shippagan had long been considered a serious handicap to the region’s development. No one predicted that these plains would one day give rise to a new industry: peat.
Since 1942, Fafard, Western, Atlantic and other companies have had harvesting licences for thousands of acres of peatbog in Shippagan and the surrounding area. Hundreds of workers are constantly on the job extracting, transporting and packaging peat to supply a vast Canadian/American market. The peat research section of the Coastal Zones Research Institute serves as an essential tool for the development of the peat industry.
Shippagan has experienced major economic expansion over the centuries, due mainly to the fishing industry. Today, the municipality is also known for its teaching and research institutions. Fishing and aquaculture remain a very important sector of the economy.
The incorporation of the town
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Significance of Shippagan’s coat of arms
Yellow star on blue background: The color of the Acadian flag which reflects the Acadian origins of the population of Shippagan and northeast New Brunswick.
Silver grey rectangular: Bales of peat moss, representing the peat moss industry.
Draggers:Representing the fishing industry
SIMUL AEDIFICARE: Building together
Significance of the logo
- The building represents the university, which is an important element of the historic built heritage and links to the new vision: Shippagan is a university town that is open to the world.
- The blue section represents fish and water, harkening back to our title of Commercial Fishing Capital of New Brunswick.
- The sun represents the light of a new era shining on all of the community’s sustainable development.
- Shippagan introduces an element of dynamism and forward motion.
Copyright © Ville de Shippagan 2013