History of the development of the Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail
New Brunswick has a splendid canoe-navigable river system. William F. Ganong in 1899 wrote in A Monograph of Historic Sites in the Province of New Brunswick, “Indeed, I doubt if anywhere else in the world is an equal extent of territory so completely watered by navigable streams, or whether in any other country canoe navigation was ever brought to such a pitch of perfection, or so exclusively relied upon for locomotion”.
The restoration of the Mi’gmaq Trail was initiated in 1985. The Tobique First Nation was also undertaking a similar project at the time, the reconstructing of the traditional Maliseet trail along the Tobique River. Their goal was to join the Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail at the portage between Bathurst Lake and Little Nictau Lake in the Mount Carleton Provincial Park. From 1985 to 1987, the history and legends of the area were documented. Information on the fauna and flora along the route was gathered. The flagging of the route from the Pabineau Falls, two kilometers south of the Pabineau First Nation to Mount Carleton Provincial Park was also started.
The Pabineau First Nation, under the auspices of the Canadian Forest Service First Nation Forestry Program, constructed the Mi’gmaq Trail. In 1997, twenty-four kilometers of the Trail from Pabineau Falls to the Nepisiguit Falls was completed. The following year, the first part of the trail was officially opened although the construction of the footbridge over Pabineau Falls was never completed. Brochures were developed and printed for the first two sections of the trail, from Pabineau Falls to Chain of Rocks Rapids. At the time, the Federal Government noted that the trail promised to be a self-sustaining, international eco-tourism destination.
In 2004, the Federal Government stated that: “the historic Mi’gmaq hiking trail is an ongoing project that has seen the completion of an eco tourism trail that extends from Bathurst to Mount Carleton in central New Brunswick. The trail follows historic seasonal movement and hunting trails used by natives for hundreds of years. It is a 130 km trail sectioned for manageable hiking.”
Since 2004, there has been no scheduled maintenance of the Trail and some sections of the trail have been completely eliminated by cutovers. The aim of the “Friends of the Mi’gmaq Trail” is to provide a maintenance program and to relocate some sections of the trail to make it more accessible and easier to maintain. Also, a link to NB Trail in the Bathurst area is proposed so as to join the Mi’gmaq Trail at Pabineau Falls. Thus, the Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail would become a link from the Bathurst area to the International Appalachian Trail in Mount Carleton Provincial Park.