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    Make yourself at home
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    Live well, here and now
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    The Acadian Peninsula’s Service Centre
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    Make yourself at home
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    Grow, flourish, prosper
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    Live well, here and now
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    The Acadian Peninsula’s Service Centre

History of Tracadie

Origin of the name

The origin of the name Tracadie is a derivative from the mikmak word Telagadik which means in the native language, a camping place. The actual location of Tracadie is when the Mikmak people used to camp while on fishing and hunting expeditions.

Because of the unfamiliar syllables and of pronunciation difficulties for the white man, the word was changed over the years until it became Tracadie, as we see it today. It went from Tregate in 1604, to Tregatay in 1632, to Tracadille in 1794, to Tracady in 1845 and finally to Tracadie in 1851. The last change seems to have been made because of the presence of the parish priest F.X. LaFrance and because the majority of the villagers were French.


In 1877, there were only six businesses in the Tracadie area: two general stores, a tavern, a saw mill, a fish market and wood trade. At the time, these businesses met the immediate needs of the local population. At the turn of the century, there was a small economic boom due to the demand for wood and this, along with the rise of the population, paved the way for other new businesses in Tracadie. Over the years, other businesses opened in Tracadie and today, Tracadie has become a service center for a big part of the Acadian Peninsula.

The last two centuries have moulded the Tracadie area to what it is today. The last century certainly helped shape the economic mission of Tracadie. Because, its lagoon is not deep enough, Tracadie does not have a good sea port and therefore the town must combine a little fishing, wood trade and agriculture to assure and acceptable economic profitability. While the surrounding towns were becoming leaders in specific fields, Tracadie remained marginal. In the twentieth century, Tracadie concentrated on becoming a «little regional metropolis» offering indispensable services to the other surrounding villages. Yes today, Tracadie does not have any major industries.

In 1899, Tracadie created its first telephone company under the name of Tracadie Telephone Company Ltd, and in 1937, electricity reached Tracadie from Chatam. The first newspaper «The Tracadie News» was founded in 1947. It was a bilingual newspaper that was published on Saturdays. It was published for about a year. In 1969, the newspaper «Reflet du Nord» was founded and it lasted until February 1971. It resurfaced on June 23 of the same year under the new name l'Analyste. The newspaper shut down on September 12, 1972.


The town of Tracadie-Sheila is situated in the federal riding of Gloucester and more precisely in the civil parish of Saumarez. Geographically and physically, two rivers, the Tracadie River and the Petit Tracadie river, as well as the gulf of Saint Lawrence naturally surround the locality.

Economic development


Agriculture did not have a major impact on Tracadie's economic development. The majority of people had a hard time fertilizing their land. Also, they did not spend a lot of time on the land and preferred to plant only what they needed. Instead of farming, they would work for better usages in the fishing or forest sectors.


In this sector, there were more options: the inhabitants could fish cod, herring, mackerel and other seafood. This definitely influenced the economic development of our region and boosted the colonization of the territory.

In the Tracadie area, people from Jersey bought and sold cod in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Their facilities were not as sophisticated as those in other regions where this type of fishing was more lucrative.

In 1850, the cod stocks diminished considerably and consequently cod fishing was done elsewhere in the Bay of Chaleurs.

Around 1805, William Ferguson and, in 1850, James Young opened fish plants. Their main activities were fishing and fish processing. The herring fishery was the most lucrative one.

The W. S . Loggie Companies were very involved in the fishing industry. They sold fishing equipment. They bought, sold and processed fish. They were very much in control of the industry and had almost all the fishing rights. Unfortunately, the people of Tracadie were never able to develop a big fishing industry because the water was not deep enough in the harbour, and therefore it was impossible for the boats to navigate. This is partly why many businesses did not stay very long. They preferred places like Caraquet or Shippagan. Therefore, the natural setting did not help in the development of the Tracadie area.


The wood trade was one of the more lucrative economic activities in the nineteenth century. Our forests were well stocked and the white pine in this area was of great use to the British Marine Corps. But the development of this industry was slowed down by the mud in the Tracadie harbour. The equipment that existed at the time did not allow easy loading and transportation of the merchandise.

The big forest companies, like Rankin and Cunard, had to move the wood on rafts because the big ships could not sail into the gulley. During these years, the towns of Miramichi and Bathurst were reknown for the wood trade. Once again, the economic development of Tracadie affected because of a natural geographic situation.

The arrival of the railroad at the end of the nineteenth century boosted the economic development of the forestry industry. The railroad made wood exportation easier ad also helped create new markets.

Consequently, the Snowball Mill in Tracadie, and the Foster Mill in Sheila became big exporters for the Miramichi region.


Around 1842, the first school was built under the aegis of the first parish priest, Reverend François Xavier LaFrance. The student population was only about 50 students. People were not very interested in education. They were mostly concerned about working to make a living as soon as possible.

The Religieuses Hospitalières changed that mentality. In 1873, they operated a school with 64 students and in 1912, they opened the Académie Ste-Famille. Between 1942 and 1962, no less than 600 students completed their high school education.

From 1947 to 1973, the actual Accueil Ste-Famille was a nursing school approved by the province.



The first wooden chapel was built in 1825. The construction of the first stone church began in 1874 and ended in 1895. On November, 1925, a fire broke out in the church and it was almost completely destroyed.

In 1926, the construction of the church that stands tall in Tracadie today, started, using the stones of the old church. At this time, the church hall was used for religious services. The second stone church was inaugurated on May 20, 1928.

The protestants although there were few, had their own small church since 1895. Unfortunately, today, nothing is left of this church.


Leprosy is a disease which touched people of different nationalities all around the world. A lot of these people were treated and taken care of at the lazaret in Tracadie.

There are many theories regarding the origin of the disease in the Tracadie region. The first person who died of the disease was Ursule Landry. She was 52 years old and died in 1828. The spread of the disease is said to have been caused by the large number of family members living in close quarters and the lack of good personal hygiene.

In 1844, a Lazaret was build on Sheldrake Island in the Bay of Miramichi. The arrival of Reverend La France in 1842 completely changed the situation. Thanks to him, the first Lazaret was built in 1849 and until 1965, all the Canadian lepers and many from different countries around the world were treated here in Tracadie.

Missionnaries and Parish Priests

At the beginning of the religious history of Tracadie, the missionaries only made annual visits to the area. This task was relatively difficult. One of their most important responsibilities was to build a place of worship.

The reverend F.X. LaFrance settled in Tracadie in 1842, was most instrumental in the parish development. All the building operations which were accomplished under his direction, allowed the parishioners to get way from all the bad luck created by the leprosy. The work accomplished by the missionaries and parish priests was not only at the religious level. They were also important participants in the social activities of that time.


Michel Bastarache and is son-in-law Joseph Saulnier came from Memramcook in 1785 to settle in the Tracadie region. This permanent settlement which was established in the area where the Saulnier Est and the Saulnier Ouest Streets area are today marks the beginning of the French colonization of our town

The first English settlers came a little later after the French settlers around 1786, William and Thomas Ferguson, two Scotchman, and Charles McLaughlin, an Irishman, all settled in Tracadie permanently.

Other families, that we can still find today in our region pined the first settlers and we consider them to be pioneers.


In 1966, Tracadie became a municipality and Dr. Victor LeBlanc was the first mayor. In the early seventies, the Tracadie region obtained a seat at the Legislative Assembly of NB following the L.J. Robichaud government reforms.

If you want to know a little bit more about the town of Tracadie, we invite you to read Tracadie: two centuries of particularism written in 1984 by M.Basque, D.Kerry, R.Bourgeois

Religieuses Hospitalières St-Joseph

September 29, 1868 marks the arrival of the Religieuses Hospitalière St-Joseph (nuns) in the village of Tracadie. Mother Pagé, founder and first mother superior along with five other nuns came to help the lepers.

The nuns were greatly devoted to the people of Tracadie. They cared for the orphans, the students and the sick. All that they accomplished will be forever engraved in the collective memory of the people of this area.

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