Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Located between Brundage Point and the mouth of the Nerepis River, Westfield Beach is a community landmark. The designation consists of the beach and the surrounding landscaped area.
Westfield Beach has been designated a Local Historic Place for its historic and aesthetic value, as well as for its association with the heritage of the Maliseet peoples of the area.
The value of the beach resides primarily in its rich history. This sandy stretch along the bank of the Saint John River was considered "famous" during the early to mid-1800s; it was the first area in the community to be developed into a desirable summer destination for families from nearby Saint John. The history of the surrounding district is still evident in the neighbourhood around the beach; the majority of residences were at one time summer homes, many of them grand in scale and design. Shops and recreational facilities were also built to accommodate the needs and pleasures of summer residents. At one time, the beach boasted tennis courts and a dance pavilion and was the setting for various water sport events organized by local outing associations.
Local histories note that the landscape of the beach was altered in 1869 when the New Brunswick Railway went through the site; the rail bed hindered accessibility to the most popular stretch of beach and covered up a large section of sand. Activities moved to a wider spot located nearer to the Nerepis Bridge.
The historic value of the site is also found in its association with railway heritage. The first locomotive to be brought to New Brunswick was off-loaded from Britain in this area in 1868; the proximity of the river to the tracks made it the ideal spot. The Westfield Beach station, operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway, became a railway hub as two sets of rails joined here en route to Saint John. Accordingly, the Westfield Beach station was larger than others in the area, operated a telegraph, and featured a little park. The station closed in 1961, although the New Brunswick Southern Railway continues to operate a line through the district.
The aesthetic value of the beach lies in its position between Brundage Point and the mouth of the Nerepis River. Looking up river, there is a beautiful view of Long Reach, where the force of the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy reverses the flow of the mighty St John River, creating a tidal river for over 80 km.
The beach is also associated with the heritage of the First Nations people of the Kingsclear Reserve. During the late 1800s, a section of the beach became a summer landing for local Maliseet. The spot was attractive for its muskrat, fiddleheads, as well as for the variety and quality of wood and reeds for their crafts, particularly basket-making. It is believed that, as their camps were damaged or swept away by the freshet every year, the summer camp gradually moved to higher ground.
Source: Grand Bay-Westfield Historic Places Files - Westfield Beach
The character-defining elements associated with the heritage value of Westfield Beach include:
- stretch of sandy beach;
- proximity to a neighbourhood of former summer homes;
- proximity to railroad tracks;
- view of Long Reach;
- elements associated with Maliseet heritage, including natural features and the potential for archaeological resources.
Local Governments (NB)
Heritage Conservation Act
Local Historic Place (municipal)
1869/01/01 to 1869/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Sports and Leisure
- Peopling the Land
- Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Function - Category and Type
- Civic Space
- Pool or Beach
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Grand Bay-Westfield Historic Places files, Town Hall, 609 River Valley Drive, Grand Bay-Westfield, NB
Cross-Reference to Collection