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Home | Heritage & Culture | Commodore George Walker

Commodore George Walker

Nepisiguit
1768 - 1777

Youghall Park , situated on Alston Point at the mouth of Bathurst Harbor, was once the later life home of a famous British privateer sea captain. Commodore George Walker's heroic sea battles and other adventures at war are well documented in a mid 18th century book and in several highly detailed historic paintings. Following the end of his warring career, Commodore Walker became engaged in the fishing industry. In 1763 he sailed across the Atlantic to begin a new life in North America. By 1768 he had set up a business at Nepisiguit on the north shore of what is now New Brunswick. From this center Walker managed a thriving fishing and trading company that encompassed the entire Bay of Chaleur.

At Alston Point Commodore Walker built a fine and elegant furnished summer residence. Lawns, gardens, five large stores and a protective gun battery surrounded his home. He constructed a winter dwelling within Bathurst harbor near the current Gowan Brae golf club and he established a fishing station on the Nepisiguit river. Walker also directed fishing operations further north at Belledune and at the mouth of the Restigouche River. Salt and dry cod, herring, and salmon were annually shipped to the London, West Indies and Mediterranean markets. To these fish exports the Acadian and Mi'kmaq residents of Nepisiguit added furs, moose skins and the hides, tusk and fat of the walrus. In the winter Walker and his company built ships for sale on the London market.

During his time at Nepisiguit George Walker was the only appointed Justice of the Peace on the northern coast of New Brunswick. Regularly he baptized, married, buried and settled issues and disputes presented to him by the Mi'kmaq, Acadian and other British residents. Walker spoke French, dealt honestly in his business affairs and respected his neighbors. In turn, they provided him with an exceptionally succesful trading company. In 1776 he entered into an arragement with Acadian shipbuilder Alexis Landry to sell one of Landry's Caraquet built ships on the London market.

With the outbreak of the American Revolution Walker knew it was only a matter of time before his Nepisiguit settlement would come under attack. By 1777 American privateers were raiding all territory that remained British. Perhaps with hopes of acquiring an armed vessel with which to protect his post, Walker sailed for England in the summer of 1777. On September 20th of the same year, while lodging in London, Commodore George Walker suddenly fell ill and died. In June of 1778 Alston Point was indeed under threat of American attack. The exact date of the destruction of this settlement is unknown, however, due to Walker 's forethrough of installin a battery, his post was probably the last in the Bay to be plundered.

The archaeological site of Commodore George Walker's trading, fishing and shipbuilding establishement at Alston Point is a protected New Brunswick Historic Site.

(Prepared by: Heriatge Branch, Culture and Sport Secretariat New Brunswick)


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