Campobello Island, New Brunswick

From Academic Kids

Campobello Island is a Canadian island located in the Bay of Fundy near the entrances to Passamaquoddy Bay and Cobscook Bay. The island is part of Charlotte County, New Brunswick but is actually physically connected by a bridge with Lubec, Maine - the eastern-most tip of the continental United States.

Measuring 14 kilometres (9 miles) long and about 5 km (3 miles) wide, it has an area of approximately 70 kmē (30 milesē). In addition to the Lubec bridge, the island is accessible in the summer months by an automobile ferry from nearby Deer Island and from there via another ferry to mainland New Brunswick. The island's permanent population in 2001 was 1,195. The majority of residents are employed in the fishing/aquaculture or tourism industries.

The island was originally settled by the Passamaquoddy Nation who called it Ebaghuit.


French exploration

The first Europeans were reportedly from the French expedition of Pierre Dugua de Monts (Sieur de Monts) and Samuel de Champlain who founded the nearby St. Croix Island settlement in 1604. France named the island Port aux Coquilles ("Shell Harbour"). Following the War of the Spanish Succession, under terms of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), the island came under British control and was placed in the colony of Nova Scotia, having ceased to be included in the French colony of l'Acadie.

British settlement

In 1770, a grant of the island was made to Captain William Owen (1737-1778) of the Royal Navy who renamed it Campobello. The island's name was derived from Britain's Governor of Nova Scotia, Lord William Campbell, and was mixed with "bello" from the French, Spanish and Italian origins of the word "beautiful". The creation of the colony of New Brunswick in 1784 saw the island transferred to the new jurisdiction and by the end of the 18th century, the small island had a thriving community and economy, partly aided by Loyalist refugees fleeing the American Revolutionary War. During the War of 1812 the British Royal Navy seized coastal lands of Maine as far south as the Penobscot River but returned them following the war. In 1817 the U.S. relinquished its claim for the Fundy Isles (Campobello, Deer, and Grand Manan Islands). By the mid 19th century Campobello Island had a population in excess of 1,000.

Fenian raid

In 1866, a Fenian Brotherhood war party of 700+ members arrived at the Maine shore opposite the island with the intention of seizing Campobello from the British. The US government intervened and a military force dispersed the marauders. This action served to reinforce the idea of protection for New Brunswick by joining with the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, Canada East, and Canada West in Confederation to form the Dominion of Canada.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Campobello has always relied heavily on fishing as the mainstay of the island economy, however in the 1880s following the acquisition of some island properties by private American investors, a luxurious resort hotel was built and the island became a popular summer colony for wealthy Canadians and Americans, many of whom built grand estates there.

Missing image
The Roosevelt home on Campobello Island

Included in this group was Sara Delano and her husband James Roosevelt Sr. from New York. Sara Delano had a number of Delano cousins living in Maine and Campobello offered a beautiful summer retreat where their family-members could easily visit. From 1883 onward, the Roosevelt family made Campobello Island their summer home. Their son, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, would spend his summers on Campobello from the age of one until, as an adult, he acquired a larger property - a 34 room "cottage" - which he would use as a summer retreat until 1936. It was here that Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., was born in the summer of 1914.

During the 20th century, the island's prosperity from its wealthy visitors declined with the change in lifestyles brought on by a new mobility from automobiles, airplanes, and air conditioning in large inland cities. Nonetheless, for President Roosevelt, the tranquility was exactly what he and his family cherished and the property remained in their hands until Eleanor Roosevelt's death in 1962.

The Roosevelt Campobello International Bridge, which connects the island to the U.S. mainland at Lubec, was built in 1962 and brought a tourism revival, particularly after the 11 kmē (2,800 acre) Roosevelt Campobello International Park was created in 1964, following a gift from the Roosevelt estate to the Canadian and United States governments. The park was officially opened by U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson.

In 1960, motion-picture producer Dore Schary and director Vincent J. Donehue made the film Sunrise at Campobello, based on Schary's Tony Award winning Broadway play of the same name. Starring Ralph Bellamy as Franklin D. Roosevelt, the film covered the years 1921 to 1924 at Campobello Island and events leading up to Roosevelt's nomination as the Democratic Party's candidate for President.


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