Europeans first settled the New Brunswick region of Canada in 1604, when Frenchmen Samuel de Champlain and Pierre du Gua, sieur de Monts, established a fur-trading settlement on St. Croix Island. The region surrounding the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, known as Acadia, became a sparsely populated part of the larger French colonial territory of New France. Acadia was officially transferred to Britain in 1713, though the French Acadians remained in New Brunswick until the British drove them out following the capture of the region during the French and Indian War (1754–63). Between 1763 and 1784, New Brunswick was a part the province of Nova Scotia.
The population of New Brunswick changed dramatically during its first two decades in British hands. Traders from New England began arriving in the principal city of St. John in 1762 and in the following year established Maugerville, near present-day Fredericton. Many Acadians were allowed to return and were given land grants in the northern and eastern parts of the region. Most important, New Brunswick became one of the principal areas of resettlement for the United Empire Loyalists, 1775–83, who had refused to take up arms against the British Crown during the American Revolution (see American Revolution and immigration). Close to 14,000 landed at St. John in 1783 and were given land in the sparsely settled St. John River valley, where they founded Fredericton. In 1784, New Brunswick was made a separate province.
After 1815, hard times in Britain drove thousands of English, Scotch, and Irish settlers to New Brunswick. With increasing population came heightened tensions over the undefined border between New Brunswick and Maine and greater desire for self-government. In 1837, Britain turned over crown lands to New Brunswick and in 1842 negotiated a delimitation of the New Brunswick–Maine boundary. The province gained self-government in 1848. In 1867, New Brunswick joined Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec as an original member of the Dominion of Canada.