Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Pioneers, Ploughs, and Politics: New Brunswick Planned Settlements

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In 1961 Johnville observed the 100th anniversary of its founding. During the community celebrations, a monument dedicated to the Rt. Rev. John Sweeny was unveiled. For it was the Bishop's vision of an Irish-Catholic settlement in rural New Brunswick that prompted more than 100 Saint John families to look for a better life in the forests of northern Carleton County. Here, in what he believed was a healthier and more godly environment, they gained their independence, establishing farms and offering themselves and their children a fresh start.
The Johnville pioneers faced numerous hardships, as they cleared the land, built their homes, constructed roads, and planted crops, but they were equal to the challenge. Within five years of taking up their lots, the settlers had created a viable farming community which was deemed a success by both the scheme's promoters and participants alike. Although the Bishop had initiated other settlements in the province, mostly notably Caanan, bordering Kings and Queens counties; Salmon River, Queens County; and Rhomboid,
Kent County, Johnville was considered by far his largest and most successful colonization effort.
Overtime Johnville's population has decreased, as young people have moved away in search of opportunities, yet the settlement has survived. Each year the parish picnic brings together local families, descendants of the early pioneers, their friends, and others who have called Johnville home. Attending these festivities keeps participants in touch with their lively Irish-Catholic heritage that gave Johnville its unique character more than 140 years ago.