Draft management statement

Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites

Public consultations

Public consultations on Boishébert and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites’ draft management statement are now closed.

Consultation with Indigenous partners, stakeholders and the public are a priority at Parks Canada and are part of the Agency's management statement renewal process. From September 26 to October 31, Canadians were invited to share their views on the national historic sites’ future, and contribute to the orientations that will guide their future management. Parks Canada thanks those who took the time send along their comments.

All comments received during the public consultation period will be considered in the development of the final management statement that will be approved and eventually tabled in Parliament. Though some ideas may not ultimately be included in the final version of the document, they may nonetheless be retained for future use in other aspects of the management planning process, namely in the implementation of the outlined objectives.

A What We Heard report will be produced and shared publicly in the coming months.


Draft Management Statement

Boishébert & Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites of Canada



Recommended by:

Ron Hallman

President and Chief Executive Officer
Parks Canada

Andrew Campbell

Senior Vice-President
Operations Directorate
Parks Canada

Géraldine Arseneault

Northern New Brunswick Field Unit
Parks Canada



Parks Canada manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and historic areas in the world. The Agency’s mandate is to protect and present these places for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. This management statement outlines Parks Canada’s management approach and objectives for Boishébert National Historic Site as well as Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Site and it replaces the 2011 Management Plan.

Since time immemorial, the Miramichi area has been home to the Mi’gmaq, whose way of life is based upon the rich resources of the river and adjacent woodlands. Beaubears Island sits at the confluence of the southwest and northwest branches of the Miramichi River in New Brunswick and has served as a meeting place for Indigenous peoples of the Miramichi watershed for at least the past two millennia.

European fishermen began visiting the Gulf of St. Lawrence beginning in the 16th century. In the 17th century, the Miramichi area was at the centre of the large trade concession granted to Nicolas Denys of western France. His son, Richard Denys de Fronsac, married a Mi’gmaw woman, Anne Parabego (Paratarabego), and was granted a seigneurie in the region in approximately 1680 as his father’s successor. He built a post and mission at Sainte Croix on the Miramichi river and established a settlement.

In late 1755, the Miramichi River junction became a site of refuge for many fleeing Acadians who followed the leadership of French officer Charles Deschamps de Boishébert after the Deportation. Known as the Camp d’Espérance, this refugee community suffered as the French were not able to consistently provision the camp. Most of the refugees moved north toward Ristigouche or Québec after the winter of 1757 and Boishébert abandoned the post, but a small Acadian population continued in the region. After 1760, the remaining French and Acadians surrendered at Fort Cumberland and were imprisoned until the end of the war.

The location of Beaubears Island made it suitable for the shipbuilding industry that developed on the river in the 19th century. James Fraser and James Thom established the first shipyard there in 1790. Joseph Russell, a shipyard owner in Chatham, purchased the yard in 1838. In 1849, he sold the yard to John Harley and George Burchill, marking the beginning of what was regarded as the golden age of Miramichi shipbuilding. Harley continued to operate the yard after Burchill’s departure in 1856. In 1866, Harley launched the barque La Plata, believed to be the last vessel constructed at Beaubears. The island, deserted for a time, was acquired by the O’Brien family in 1920 and willed to the Government of Canada in 1973, following the death of J. Leonard O’Brien, former lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick.

Boishébert National Historic Site was designated in 1930 as the location of a settlement established by Acadian refugees from Nova Scotia following the expulsion of 1755. Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Site was designated in 2002 for its association with the 19th century shipbuilding industry of the Maritimes.

Management approach

Parks Canada's intent is to continue on the management path established in the 2011 management plan for Boishébert & Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites to ensure they will remain protected and accessible to Canadians.

As Parks Canada’s primary partner on site, the Friends of Beaubears Island Inc. (FoBI) provide visitor experiences, communicate key messages to visitors, ensure visitor safety and compliance, janitorial services, as well as fire prevention on the island on behalf of the Agency through a Contractual Service Agreement. The Friends of Beaubears Island also offer a ferry service to the island from the end of May to the end of September each year. Furthermore, FoBI independently operate an Interpretive Center that is located on the mainland outside of the boundary of the national historic sites and offer a wide range of programs and events throughout the summer season.

Parks Canada and the Friends of Beaubears Island will continue to work together to ensure safe visitor access to the island. The priorities highlighted in this Management Statement are: to offer more diverse and inclusive stories through interpretive programming such as tours on the island, to maintain adequate protection of the site, and to grow awareness and appreciation for the sites’ role in history.

Parks Canada’s priorities also include maintaining a strong relationship with the Indigenous peoples of New Brunswick, in particular by working with Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. (MTI), an organization representing the province’s Mi’gmaq communities, and Kopit Lodge, which represents Elsipogtog First Nation specifically, to ensure that Mi’gmaq knowledge and values are respectfully interwoven into the conservation and the interpretation of the sites.

Management objectives

The following section outlines the strategic direction for the management of Boishébert National Historic Site as well as Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Site over the next 10 years. Parks Canada will maintain an open dialogue with stakeholders and the Indigenous peoples in New Brunswick, particularly the Mi’gmaq, on the implementation of this management statement to ensure that it remains relevant and meaningful.

Parks Canada will meet annually with Mi’gmaq partners and Friends of Beaubears Island to seek input on work plans that will achieve the objectives of this management statement.

Building Relationships with the Indigenous Peoples in New Brunswick

Parks Canada respects Indigenous rights and building mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities is a priority for the Agency.

Parks Canada works with the Mi’gmaq to respectfully incorporate Indigenous knowledge, values and cultural heritage into site management, and to engage visitors to learn about and connect with Indigenous histories, experiences and perspectives. Parks Canada will strive to facilitate these connections through actions such as coordinating meetings and product development sessions between Mi’gmaq partner organizations and the Friends of Beaubears Island to ensure the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in programming and visitor experiences on the island. Parks Canada will also encourage networking between neighbouring Metepenagiag Heritage Park and the Friends of Beaubears Island to cross promote and partner on Indigenous-related initiatives and programming.

Cultural and natural resource management

Parks Canada’s approach to conserving the cultural resources and preserving the commemorative integrity at its protected heritage areas is in accordance with its Cultural Resource Management (CRM) Policy Footnote 1 and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. This includes basic monitoring of the state of cultural resources, and documentation of interventions at the national historic sites and training FoBI staff on CRM protocols (i.e. when encountering artefacts).

Parks Canada will consolidate research on the sites’ history and archaeology while taking into consideration potential climate change impacts on the island’s cultural resources. The Agency will continue to monitor, adapt to and/or mitigate these impacts, such as coastal erosion, on the island’s geographic features and natural resources. In addition, Parks Canada will continue to enforce the fire ban on the island while working with stakeholders as well as local and provincial authorities on the implementation of its Wildfire Response Operation Procedures. The Agency will also continue to actively work towards the control of invasive species on the island.

Partner and stakeholder relationships

Boishébert & Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites contribute to New Brunswick’s tourism industry and the local economy by attracting visitors to the Miramichi region. Parks Canada will continue to work with the Friends of Beaubears Island, the City of Miramichi, Mi’gmaq partner organizations and communities and relevant provincial agencies and departments to strengthen the island’s position within the provincial tourism industry.

Visitor experience and outreach

Parks Canada will continue to work with the Friends of Beaubears Island to maintain access to the island through the operation of a ferry boat service and to increase use of the island, in a sustainable way. An accessible and inclusive family-oriented outdoor experience will be made possible through the provision of high quality visitor experiences ensuring diverse perspectives are respectfully woven into the site’s offer. The Friends of Beaubears Island will also pursue efforts to engage youth through targeted school programming and youth volunteer and employment opportunities.

Site maintenance

Parks Canada maintains the property so as to respect the site’s heritage values in accordance with Parks Canada’s CRM Policy and associated guidelines and best practices. The maintenance of the island’s infrastructure and the environmental monitoring is provided respectively by the Kouchibouguac National Park Assets and Resource Conservation teams. These teams visit the site regularly for various maintenance duties during the operational season, such as trail clearing, dock maintenance, fire prevention and the control of invasive species. Law Enforcement Officers provide services to the island by patrolling the site as needed.

Strategic environmental assessment

The purpose of the strategic environmental assessment is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision-making. In accordance with The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2010), a strategic environmental assessment is conducted on all management statements tabled in Parliament.

The objectives in the management statement are expected to have positive effects on the level of cultural resource protection and commemorative integrity of Boishébert & Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Sites. The management statement will also help connect Canadians with nature which contributes to the implementation of the Agency’s Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy (DSDS) and the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS).

Potential negative environmental effects will be mitigated through wildfire management and active management for the control of invasive species on the island. Operations at the site are required to adapt to and/or mitigate climate change impacts according to commitments in the Agency’s DSDS and in support of the Greening Government Strategy (GGS) and FSDS. There are no significant negative environmental effects anticipated from the management statement implementation. Individual projects at the site will be evaluated separately under the Impact Assessment Act, or successor legislation, as necessary.

Map 1: Site map — Text description follows
Map 1: Site map — Text version

An overview of Boishébert National Historic Site of Canada and Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Site of Canada. These sites are located in Miramichi, New Brunswick on Beaubears Island. Beaubears Island lies to the northeast of Wilsons Point and marks the junction of the Northwest Miramichi River and the Southwest Miramichi River, a water crossing between Wilsons Point and Beaubears Island is referred to as The Tickle. Highway 8 and the Canadian National Railway cross the Northwest Miramichi River to the west of Beaubears Island.

Points of interest to the national historic sites on Beaubears Island are marked, detailed as follows in a legend at the top of the map:

  • Boat tie up
  • Russel tomb
  • O’Brien monument
  • Picnic area
  • Viewpoint
  • Outhouse
  • Trail
  • Boishébert National Historic Site Designated Place
  • Beaubears Island Shipbuilding National Historic Site Designated Place
  • Land administered by Parks Canada
  • Land administered by the Province of New Brunswick

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