HISTORY OF SALISBURY
The first permeant settlement of what was to become the village of Salisbury began 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 turned to the area’s timber rich forest to establish thriving lumber operations.
Dairy farming and lumbering continue to the locality to this day, while fur ranching has been a tradition here since the early 1900s.
Transport of goods in and out of the community was initially by means of the river, as well as the 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 at the railway station as early as the 1860s. 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 boast six churches. The establishment of the first of these, the Baptist Church, dates back to approximately 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 1850s, 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Historical documents indicate the presence of a school in the Salisbury area prior to 1825.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 Horseman building after extensive renovations were made, is now the Salisbury Boys and Club and early learning center.
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, which opened in 1981.
Local government came into existence in 1947 with the incorporation as a local improvement district for the installment of streetlights 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. Salisbury St. John Ambulance is still in existence, but ambulance services were 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 throughout 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 Metro 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 about 2,284.
Like a small but seaworthy boat on the oceans voyage, Salisbury has sailed through 200 years, experiencing modest booms, as in the early fox ranching years, and minor crises such as loss of businesses or homes to fire, managing in the most part to retain its sense of worth, and 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.
Mr. George Taylor
Local Reporter and Historian
(This has been updated by the Village of Salisbury-2017)