2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the immigration of 180 Welsh men, women and children to New Brunswick and the establishment of the Welsh settlement of Cardigan, located 25 km north of Fredericton. The Central New Brunswick Welsh Society and the New Brunswick Welsh Heritage Trust sponsored numerous activities throughout 2019 to celebrate the bicentenary, one of which was the publication of short narratives aimed at helping us understand the stories of the Welsh settlers. The narratives were based on research gleaned from a multitude of sources, including Dr. Peter Thomas’ landmark book Strangers from a Secret Land, census data, vital statistics, newspaper accounts, land registry documents and many other collections that have been indexed and shared on-line. We did our best to accurately portray the life and times of the Welsh settlers but because our research is a work in progress, there may be errors and omissions. All contributions of new information will be gladly received!
On April 9, 1819, a large crowd gathered on the shores of the Teifi River near Cardigan to see the brig Albion lift anchor for Saint John, New Brunswick. The brig was loaded with slate and 180 passengers, families from the surrounding countryside who were looking for a better life in British America. The Albion arrived in Saint John harbour on June 11, 1819. Once declared healthy and disease-free, the Welsh immigrants came ashore and immediately held a church service to give thanks for their safe crossing. By mid-July many families had moved upriver to the capital city of Fredericton, and had petitioned the Legislative Assembly for land located about 15 miles outside the city. They named the new community ‘Cardigan Settlement’.
A Canadian Historic Place
The Welsh Chapel, located in Cardigan, New Brunswick, is a designated Provincial Historic Site and can be found on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. The community of Cardigan was established by immigrants from Wales who arrived in 1819 with the hope of making a better life for themselves and their families. Most of the settlers were members of the non-conformist churches – Methodist, Independents (Congregationalist) and Baptist. It was the Baptist congregation that built the Welsh Chapel.