History

The earliest inhabitants of the area were members of the Mic Mac tribe of the great Algonquin family.  A Paleo-Indian site at Debert, Nova Scotia, indicates that these people moved into the area shortly after de-glaciation.  They were undoubtedly attracted by the abundant food supply in the forest and rivers.  Evidence from the Debert site, and Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick, indicates the presence of caribou; fish were also abundant.  Old Indian burial grounds were found at the mouth of Millstream, near Apohaqui and at the location of the Lower Ward’s Creek School House.  Indian people continued to live in the area until the early 1800’s.

Although Sussex Vale constituted part of the territory that was more or less under French jurisdiction from around 1650 to the capture of Fort Beauséjour by the English in June of 1755, there is no evidence of any French (Acadian) settlements in the Sussex Vale area.  The reason that Acadian settlers apparently were not attracted to the Kennebecasis and Trout Creek valleys was probably related to the fact that they preferred draining the fertile marshes along the head of the Bay of Fundy rather than creating farmland by removing the forest.  The Acadians had great expertise in dyke building and draining the land using the so-called “aboiteaux”.  The aboiteaux were wooden locks built in the dykes that allowed the land to drain (by gravity) during low tide and that closed (by pressure of the water) during high tide.

The Acadians were very successful in the type of marsh agriculture and produced considerable amounts of surplus food.  Although not officially permitted by the French authorities, the surplus food was traded for manufactured goods in Massachusetts.  Sussex Vale constituted part of this trading route, which extended from Beaubassin, in the Isthmus of Chenecto, via the Petitcodiac, Anagance and Kennebecasis rivers to Saint John.

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