History of Salisbury

The first permanent settlement of what was to become the Village of Salisbury was begun in 1774 by immigrants from Yorkshire, England. Taking advantage of the fertile soil of the Petitcodiac River system's intervals, these first residents built successful farms and also turned to the area's timber-rich forests to establish thriving lumbering operations.

Dairy farming and lumbering continue in the locality to this day, while fur ranching has been a tradition here since the early 1900's.

Transport of goods in and out of the community was by means of the river initially, as well as over the region's rough trails and roads. Arrival of the European and North American Railway in 1860 provided access to the ports of Saint John and Shediac, no doubt increasing business prospects immeasurably.

The village is believed to have been connected to the outside world by a telegraph office located in the railway station as early as the 1860's. Nearly half a century later, in 1906, the village's first telephone exchange was established.

With the construction of the Calvary United Pentecostal Church in the summer of 2001, Salisbury now boasts six churches. The establishment of the first of these, the Baptist Church dates back to about 1800. The first United Church, then called the Methodist Church, was established in 1849. The first documented Roman Catholic Church began serving the village areas in the 1850's, and the first Anglican Church in 1887. The Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall was built in 1988.

Historical documents indicate the presence of a school in the Salisbury area prior to 1825. One school building constructed in 1905 still exists.  The historical structure, officially known as The Rose Horsman Building, after extensive renovations now houses the Salisbury Boys and Girls Club.

Today the village is served by a modern elementary school created in 1983 through major renovations to a former high school, by a middle school built in 1962 and by J.M.A. Armstrong High School opened in 1981.

Local government came into existence in 1947 with the incorporation as a local improvement district for the installation of street lights and a sewer system.  Incorporation as a village took place in 1966.   

The village has been served by a volunteer fire department since 1973, while St. John Ambulance began operating a volunteer ambulance service here the same year.  The Salisbury St. John Ambulance is still in existence but ambulance services were since replaced by Ambulance New Brunswick.  A public library financed by the municipality and the provincial government has been in operation since 1977.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has maintained a branch in Salisbury since 1928, and although no large industry exists, the village today, as it has through the years, contains a varied and interesting mix of retail establishments and other small businesses.

For generations, a large portion of Salisbury's work force has commuted daily to nearby Moncton. As transportation means have improved, the time required to travel between the village and the city has shortened. This occurrence has made Salisbury increasingly attractive to home buyers as an alternative to living in urban surroundings.

The small-town pace, the lower cost of owning a home and at least a somewhat sheltered environment for raising a family, coupled with the proximity of the city and its amenities, has led to a steady population growth to today's figure of over 2,200.

Like a small but seaworthy boat on an ocean voyage, Salisbury has sailed through 200 years, experiencing modest booms, as in the early fox ranching years, and such minor crises as loss of businesses or homes to fire, managing for the most part to retain its sense of worth, its industrious yet informal character.

There have been changes since the days when the 18th Century Yorkshire settlers first took up land here, but the interval-bordered river still flows and forests still grace the horizon. Many of the same pleasant aspects that doubtless helped convince those first residents to establish here continue to exist today.

One can believe those attributes that make Salisbury a satisfying community in which to live will be perpetuated as the village ambles into the future at its familiar, comfortable, yet sure, pace, attuned to the beat of its own drummer.

George Taylor, Local Reporter and Historian

(Updated by the Village of Salisbury)