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Site 6 - Blissfield, New Brunswick

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Site Description – Blissfield, New Brunswick

Blissfield is an unincorporated parish of approximately 1240 square kilometers in Northumberland County, NB. The parish is bisected by Rte. 8 Hwy and the southwest branch of the Miramichi River and is located approximately 65 km from Miramichi City, approximately 210 km from Moncton, and 105 km from Fredericton. There is no retail centre in Blissfield, but the village of Doaktown (incorporated in 1966), previously part of Blissfield Parish and surrounded on three sides by it, provides many services to Blissfield residents. Blissfield did not lose services when this incorporation took place, however the boundaries of Doaktown would suggest that the services always available there are now available in an “adjacent” community. The services have not moved, only the boundary lines. 

Blissfield Parish is approximately 30 km wide along Rte. 8 Hwy, which cuts through its centre. This is significant as distance determines where residents of Blissfield go for certain services. Depending on where in the Parish one lives, it may be closer to travel to Fredericton or to Miramichi City for services unavailable in Doaktown.

The original settlers to Blissfield arrived with intentions of farming on the land grants they had received, but the landholders soon realized that the area was not as conducive to agriculture as they had hoped. Some settlers left the area, but many began to explore other options for income and the cutting timber or fishing were logical choices. By the mid-1830’s, the timber trade was booming along the Miramichi and commercial agriculture had fallen off to subsistence level. The salmon fishery also grew steadily and most inhabitants gained livelihood from one or the other.

In 1972, the commercial fishery on the Miramichi River closed due to the dramatic decline in salmon populations in the river.  In the aftermath of the fishery collapse, tourism started to take on greater significance for the citizens of Blissfield and Doaktown. The Miramichi River is now a worldwide attraction to recreational fishermen while canoeing, kayaking, hunting, and snowmobiling are becoming increasingly popular. Year-round outfitters in Blissfield and Doaktown provide a myriad of services for the outdoor adventurer.

According to Statistics Canada, the major employer in the Blissfield Parish today is resource-based industry (mainly forestry), with manufacturing and construction second, wholesale and retail trade third, and business services and other services ranking fourth. Irving purchased the Russell and Swim Mill in Doaktown in 1998, and opened the Irving Finger-Joint Pine Mill in 2000, also in Doaktown. These two facilities, along with Rojac Cedar Mill in Blissfield, are major employers for residents of Blissfield Parish. Although agriculture was the intent of the first settlers in the area, the only commercial farm in the parish today is that of George Green, established by George’s grandfather in 1880.