The Program Committee is pleased to announce the following presentation for the York Sunbury Historical Society. Presentations take place at 7:30pm in the basement of Government House (51 Woodstock Road). A reception follows the presentation and are free and open to the public.
Speaker: Bob Dallison
Topic: The Fenians
Date: November 17, 2016
In the 1860s, New Brunswick experienced its own brand of international terrorism. The Fenian Brotherhood sought the ouster of the British from their beloved Ireland and found support among Irish-American immigrants. Eager to help the cause, the American Fenians sympathizers contrived to invade British North America and hold it hostage. New Brunswick, with its large Irish population and undefended frontier, seemed the prefer target.
In the spring of 1866, the Fenians massed along the southwest border of New Brunswick. The recently appointed Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, Arthur Hamilton Gordon, proved to be the right man, at the right place, at the right time. He revitalized the militia, called in British reinforcements, and summoned a squadron of British warships. This proved too much for the Fenians, who withdrew and turned their efforts against the more vulnerable central Canada.
The Fenian Crisis had a profound effect on the red-hot political debate occurring over Confederation. In the 1865 election, prior to the arrival of the Fenians, New Brunswicker voted overwhelming against Confederation. However in the 1867 election, after facing a possible foreign invasion, New Brunswicker voted overwhelming to join Confederation.