The Miramichi River area includes much of central New Brunswick running from the northeast Acadian Coast to the capital, Fredericton, in the southwest. Unlike much of the surrounding area, the Miramichi passes through Anglophone towns settled by Irish and Scottish who brought with them history, culture, and a love of festivals.
- 1 Miramichi — "Canada's Irish Capital", and home to an annual Irish festival
- 2 Blackville — the Salmon Capital of the Miramichi, and home to many fishing lodges
- 3 Doaktown — home of the Atlantic Salmon Museum, and close to the Priceville Footbridge (the longest suspension footbridge in New Brunswick), and Nelson Hollow Bridge (the oldest covered bridge in the province)
The vast forests of the Miramichi River Valley have been managed primarily to support the pulp and paper industry via timber leases to forestry companies. The Miramichi River valley supports some farming, mostly located on the better topsoils within the floodplain. Crop farming is rare, with potatoes, turnips, oats, and wheat being most common. The Miramichi River is famous for Atlantic Salmon fly-fishing (rod and reel), and the estuary once supported an extensive fishery for salmon, shad, gaspereau and smelt.
The Miramichi River valley is home to about 45,000 people, mainly of mixed Irish, Scottish, English, French and Mi'kmaq descent. Traditionally, the shores of the estuarine portion of the Miramichi River valley were predominantly Acadian fishing communities, whereas Chatham was an Irish community and Newcastle and many towns upriver were Scottish communities. Over the past 100 years or more, Acadians have been migrating into the amalgamated city of Miramichi and surrounding areas. The "English speaking" community (of Irish, Scottish or English descent) and the "French speaking" community (of Acadian descent) have witnessed much intermarriage between the two groups in the last 80 years and relations are generally good.
The Miramichi River valley was controlled by the Mi'kmaq Nation at the time of European discovery. As part of Acadia under French colonial control, the region saw little French settlement. Following the siege of Fortress Louisbourg in 1758, British forces entered the lower Miramichi River valley and destroyed and scattered the small Acadian settlements. The Miramichi River valley became a refuge for Acadians fleeing the Great Upheaval in the Annapolis Valley, Tantramar Marshes and Price Edward Island following the Seven Years' War, however these families were soon forced to move to more isolated coastal areas to the northeast.
The Highland Clearances and Britain's Industrial Revolution led to a Scottish migration into the Miramichi River valley, some of them demobilized veterans of the American Revolutionary War, and others directly coming from the Scottish Highlands. Acadians began to drift back into the area as early as 1769, settling the shorelands along the lower bay. Large numbers of Irish arrived in the Miramichi River valley, both before and after the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849).
Sawmills were a typical Miramichi industry from colonial times, but pulp mills were established at both Newcastle and Chatham in the late 19th century. During the 1870s and 1880s, railways were built to the Miramichi River valley.
Highway 8 runs from Miramichi to Fredericton.
Miramichi is 140-150 km northwest of Moncton via Highways 11 or 126, and 80 km south of Bathurst on Highway 8, and 172 km north of Fredericton on Highway 8.
- Maritimebus, Chatham. Buses daily from Moncton and Bathurst.
- Via Rail, Newcastle. The Ocean train stops at Miramichi Station en route between Montreal and Halifax three times a week.
- 1 Miramichi Airport (YCH IATA). For general aviation.
The nearest major airport is at Moncton.
Highway 8 runs through the valley from Miramichi to Fredericton. There is no bus service through the valley, but Miramichi Transit connects Newcastle to Douglastown and Chatham.
The main centre, Miramichi, offers a number of attractions. It has no one centre as it is an amalgam of two towns and three villages
The former town of Newcastle, further up the Miramichi river on the north bank, features the Old Manse Library, once the home of the British press magnate, Lord Beaverbrook. A number of his books are now in the town library.
The other town and former rival of Newcastle, Chatham, is 8 km downstream and on the south bank. It has a more Irish character than Newcastle. It is dominated by St. Michael's Basilica, on a hill overlooking the town. It is worth a visit. This neo-Gothic structure is surprisingly large, before 1949, the largest church in Canada, east of Quebec city.
A total solar eclipse on Monday 8 April 2024 crosses this area shortly after 4:30PM local time. The track of totality is northeast from Mexico and Texas to Ohio, straddling the Canada–New England border, then across Maine, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
Salmon and bass fishing season begins April 15. There are many outfitters offering fishing packages. The Miramichi Striper Cup takes place in late May. It is a “catch and release” bass fishing tournament that attracts over 2,000 participants to the Miramichi River each year.
Miramichi River Tubing Co. in Doyles Brook, Miramichi, offers 1½-2½ hour and 3-4 hour tubing trips on the Main Southwest Miramichi River. The trip is a mix of lazy river and, at times, rapids rush. Vickers River Tubing near Blackville also does tubing trips.
The salmon, of course. Wild "fiddleheads", the curled heads of ostrich ferns which grow on the riverbanks and in the floodplain after the spring thaw, are a delicacy in New Brunswick. Do not eat them raw. When eaten raw in large quantities, some varieties of fiddlehead ferns have been known to cause illness.