Black and white image of two older buildings in Bear River. One is a church and the other is a home.

Bear River History

This valley we now call Bear River was once called L’sitkuk (meaning “flowing along by high rocks”), by the Mi’kmaq (pronounced “meeg mah) who inhabited it. There is evidence of Mi’kmaq habitation dating 8400 years BCE. The river that divided Bear River provided a means of transportation as well as a source of food in the form of fish and clams. The valley also provided game rich land to hunt. For approximately 10,000 years, the Mi’kmaq lived unimpeded by European influence and it would be another three hundred years before the English settled into the land surrounding a river they named “Bear” (after an 1600’s ship captain Imbert).

In the 1890’s Bear River was a booming community centred around a tidal river that allowed for the transportation needed for their two major sources of commerce – shipbuilding and lumber mills.

More recently, Bear River has changed its focus to the tourist trade. This community has become known as a haven for artists and their works can be seen in studios and galleries scattered through the community and beyond.

There is a Mi’kmaq reservation in Bear River where the traditions and culture are still passed down the generations. The Bear River First Nations Health Clinic has been a generous supporter of the Bear River and Area Community Health Clinic exchanging information and even providing space for our doctor to practise when a fire forced our clinic temporarily out of commission.