May 18, 2019 4:27 pm
Updated: May 18, 2019 6:44 pm

‘We have a really rich history’: Loyalist Day celebrated in Saint John

WATCH: Saturday marked the 234th birthday of the City of Saint John, also known as Loyalist Day. Megan Yamoah has details on the festivities.

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Saint John is Canada’s first city. The municipality was created by Royal Charter in 1785, well before Canada was even a country.

And to mark the event, the city celebrates its 234th birthday on May 18, also known as Loyalist Day.

“We have a really rich history and it’s something I’m really passionate about,” says Chantelle Anderson, a Loyalist descendant.

Inside the Saint John Uptown Market Square Atrium, the town crier delivered the Loyalist Day proclamation, and the Saint Mary’s Band provided musical entertainment.

“Loyalist Day is about recognizing our heritage. It’s about being inspired by the tenacity and the dedication of those who landed here 236 years ago and almost two years to the day later we incorporated the city,” says Dorothy Shephard, the New Brunswick minister of social development.

Dorothy Shephard, New Brunswick’s minister of social development, is seen on Saturday, May 18, 2019 in Saint John. 

Mayor Don Darling says young leaders can use this commemorative day to become the next pioneers.

“You can’t move forward and thrive without recognizing and celebrating your history and your heritage,” Darling.

The guns of the Third Field Artillery Regiment fired their customary 21-gun salute from the waterfront in honour of the day.

Shephard has personal connections to Loyalist Day.

“Nothing could be more appropriate for me than being on the port on Loyalist Day,” said Shephard. “My dad was a stevedore at the Port of Saint John and this waterfront is why Saint John had the ability to prosper and grow.”

“I think it’s really important that we teach the next generation about our history and our past and we come from two family branches of Loyalists, so this is something I am really interested in teaching them,” said Anderson.

WATCH: Commemorating the 223rd anniversary of the first loyalist landing in Saint John

During the Revolutionary War of 1775-1783, loyalists remained devoted to England.

“Not only did people from Britain come here, but a very diverse number of people came and made us who we are,” Shephard.

In fact, a large number of loyalists were Swiss, French, Native American and of African descent.

“I think it’s important to honour the past and it helps us to understand the future,” said Anderson

 

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