If Shediac is considered as one of the most important Acadian regions, it is , in large part, thanks to the many builders who truly believed in the area. History shows us that during the 17th and 18th century, the first Acadians to settle in the area were employed in Shediac. In 1749 most of them were hired to build a fort, houses and warehouses for the purpose of resupplying the French troops in new Acadia. Supplies coming from Québec, Louisbourg and France were unloaded from schooner ships and warehoused in Shediac to be transported later on by portage to Petitcodiac and Beauséjour from Shediac River to the Bend, from the Scoudouc River to the Memramcook River and from there to Beauséjour.
The first Acadian settlers to permanently set up house in the area, today known as Shediac, arrived between 1798 and 1805. They settled mainly to the east of the Scoudouc River, in an area that was later known as La Batture because of the many oyster beds found at the mouth of the river.
At the beginning of the 19th century, paths trampled on for thousands of years became the first truly organized means of public transportation in the Maritimes. New Brunswick's first public road was constructed between Shediac and Moncton in 1816. It was on this road that the first public transit service for the east coast started up. It is therefore not surprising that the first railroad in the Maritime Provinces was established in Shediac. The first passengers were transported from Shediac to Moncton in August of 1857 on the European and North American Railway. Shediac was one of the most important railway centres in the country before the operations were moved to Moncton following the fire of 1872. The only remaining trace of that era is the old train station, which lasted until the 1980s when the old railway lines were removed to accommodate an office building which would eventually house the Department of Supply & Services Superannuation. Incidentally, the old railway depot was purchased by the Town in 1994 and the structure is still standing today.
Still in the 19th century, merchandise was shipped from New Brunswick to foreign markets by sea. Because of its ideal geographic location and vast reserves of timber, Shediac was the perfect site to construct sailing ships. In 1817, the first ship built in Shediac was officially launched. This ship, built by Bowen Smith, was made of wood that was entirely carved by hand. With the emergence of new means of transportation, roads for example, as well as the development of the shipping industry in other major centres of the Maritimes, shipbuilding in this area gradually fizzled out.
As in other Acadian communities, agriculture also played a major role in the development of Shediac. In the early 1870s, the family-owned business, Chesley Tait Company, developed an industry that was to dominate the economy of Shediac for many years. While on a trip to Bermuda, Alexander J. Tait, one of the business partners saw an opportunity to expand the business and develop the potato industry in his little seaside village. On his return to Shediac, he wasted no time in convincing local farmers to cultivate potatoes on a larger scale. During the first twenty years of the 20th century, a hundred thousand barrels of potatoes were shipped from here by rail or by sea to foreign markets in Bermuda and the West Indies, as well as to the rest of Canada.
Shediac was also instrumental in the development of air transport. The first transatlantic airmail sent to Lancashire, England was stamped at the Shediac Post Office on June 24, 1939. Flights went from Shediac to Foynes, Eire. Prior to that, in July of 1933, the first air squadron left Italy to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Twenty-five (25) hydroplanes under the command of General Italo Balbo safely landed on the calm waters of Shediac Bay. The first commercial flights from North America to Europe departed from the Shediac terminal of Pan American Airways beginning on July 19, 1937. The «Clipper» stopped in Shediac once a week to refuel. The breakout of World War II in September of 1939 saw the decline of the hydroplanes and as a result, the Shediac terminal shut down its operations. During the war, the terminal was used by the small military planes of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Shediac is unique in Canada in that it was intimately linked to the early stages of all forms of public transportation: public roads, railway, passenger/cargo ships and ferries, as well as commercial aviation. Acadian settlers from the area took advantage of the development of the municipality of Shediac and today Acadians make up 75% of the population in Shediac.
Rich in history and culture, Shediac is recognized for its avant-gardism: as the site of the first shipbuilding yard; the first steam sawmills in New Brunswick; not to mention, the first passenger railway line in the Maritimes.
Situated near the strait of Northumberland, Shediac is famous around the world for its giant lobster, where thousands of visitors have their pictures taken each year, thus confirming our claim to fame as "THE LOBSTER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD". The first mention of the word "lobster", a word attributable to Captain Parkhurst, appears in the Maritimes Archives as far back as 1578.
Closer to home, a pioneer in the lobster processing industry was named William Blizzard, a resident of Shediac. He opened a lobster processing plan in Shediac in 1861 and began to sell lobster on the open market. He was an innovator in the processing of lobster in Southeast New Brunswick. Another Shediac native whose name is synonymous with the lobster industry in the 20th century is Émile Paturel. The Paturel name was closely linked to this delectable seafood for over fifty years in Canada, the United States and Europe. The Town of Shediac certainly took advantage of this abundant natural resource and in 1949 the municipality staged the very first annual Shediac Lobster Festival, which marks it as one of the oldest festivals in the province.
Coat of Arms
Heraldry first appeared at the end of the 11th century and at the beginning of the 12th. Because combatants were covered from head to toe, it was impossible to distinguish friend from foe, hence the adoption of simple symbols on shields. These soon became hereditary.
From actual shields, borne for defence purposes, these symbols were soon adopted on seals. Communities, either civic or religious, started using seals to authenticate documents towards the end of the 12th century. They too made liberal use of heraldry which, from personal usage for identification purposes, became civic and religious symbols for the same purpose.
Heraldry, be it personal or corporate, has to this day no other purpose other than to identify. Thus, a municipal coat of arms, because it is unique and proper to one community, can be said to represent each individual in that community. It is literally, the symbol of municipal pride. It is with this in mind that the coat of arms of Shediac was designed.
Because heraldry is both a science and an art with strict rules and an arcane vocabulary, it is desirable to explain some of the terminology used in the official description of the arms, called the blazon:
Barry wavy; three undulating bars horizontally on the shield
Chief; the upper part of the shield
Bars gemelles; two small bars placed horizontally
Or; gold, represented by yellow
Proper; of natural colours
Armed; the claws of an animal when they are of a different colour
Langued; the colour of the tongue
Dexter; the right
Crest; what appears above the shield.
Barry wavy Argent and Azure a lobster Gules, on a chief Vert two bars gemelles Or, a seagull wings extended Argent Supporters: On a compartment Proper, two sea lions Or, armed and langued Gules, each holding in its dexter paw a rolled parchment Argent Crest: On a circlet Or; between two half stars and in the center, all Or, two ship's bows also Or, sails Argent, rigged Or.
A red lobster has been used for some time now on the Town's logo. It is retained in the coat of arms for the sake of continuity with a symbol that has come to be identified with Shediac, which boast that it is "THE LOBSTER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD".
Traditionally, in heraldry, the sea is represented by wavy bars. In the town's coat of arms, they have a double symbolism since they not only represent the town's geographic position on Shediac Bay but also the etymology of the name from the Micmacs; Shediac meaning "running far in", an allusion to its geography.
The upper part of the shield, called a chief, bears two small horizontal bars which symbolize the European and North American Railway, the first railroad in the Maritime Provinces, inaugurated in 1857, and Queen's Road, still in use today, one of New Brunswick's first public thoroughfares, opened in 1839.
Green, a colour associated with agriculture, recalls the fact that agriculture was once an important element in the economy of Shediac, particularly potato growing. There once was a large potato export industry based in Shediac.
The seagull is commonplace along any shore and thus a natural symbol to represent the maritime situation of Shediac. But its inclusion in the town's coat of arms has a double symbolism. In the first instance, the seagull represents the fact that Shediac is the premier summer resort of New Brunswick, a distinction it has held since the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The seagull's wings are extended to symbolize the brief but important role Shediac played in the aviation industry. It was at the Pointe-du-Chêne wharf that Pan American Airways established a seaplane base in 1937. It was from here that Canada's first airmail letter to Britain was sent in 1939.
Finally, the seagull recalls the landing in Shediac of General Italo Balbo's air fleet, in July of 1933. General Balbo, Italy's Minister of Aviation and his squadron were on their way from Rome to the World's fair in Chicago.
The two creatures who support the shield are half lion, half fish. The lion symbolizes strength and is one of the earliest symbols used in heraldry. They are half fish to recall the importance of the fishing industry to the region's economy as well as the former shipbuilding industry.
The parchments held aloft by the lions allude to three important literary figures who were citizens of Shediac; Senator Pascal Poirier (1852 - 1933), elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1899; Placide Gaudet (1850 - 1930), archivist, genealogist and historian; and Dr. John Clarence Webster (1863 - 1950), a noted historian, also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1924), who wrote a history of Shediac.
They also allude to the foundation in Shediac, in July 1867, by Israël J. D. Landry, of Le Moniteur Acadien, the first French-speaking newspaper in the Maritime Provinces.
The compartment under the shield is not merely a commodity for the sea lions to rest upon. It is in the shape of a marsh to recall one of the original names of the locality, "La Batture", which means in French "shore" but commonly said to mean "oyster bed", hence the grassy configuration of the compartment.
The coronet above the shield embodies two symbols, the star which is one of the principal Acadian symbols, and ships to recall not only the former shipbuilding activity in Shediac, as well as its maritime situation, but also the fact that Shediac is twinned to the French island of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, situated in the Golf of St. Lawrence. Two similar ship's bows appear in the Islands' coat of arms.
The flag consist of the town's coat of arms in the fly and a smaller version of the Provincial flag in the upper right-hand part, thus proclaiming Shediac to be a New Brunswick municipality and the Province's tourism capital.
Shediac's coat of arms combines symbols which recall simultaneously and harmoniously its past, its present and its future.
The art work for the coat of arms and the flag of Shediac was done by Miss Karen Bailey of Ottawa. They were created by Robert Pichette of Moncton, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (U.K.), and former president of the Heraldry Society of Canada.
IN UNUM AD SUMMUM can be translated to "TOGETHER TOWARD THE HEIGHTS"