The shops across from Phoenix Square on Queen Street.
An old view of Queen Street as it was in the first half of the 20th Century.
Queen Street within the context of downtown Fredericton.
Artists painting on the pavements of Queen Street when it is closed during Harvest Jazz festival.
Hanging out on the sidewalks.
History is all around Queen Street and Phoenix Square.
In the winter, Queen Street is decorated with coloured lights.
In the summer, lots of people walk along the boulevard in front of the Justice Building.
Artists set up booths at Harvest Jazz and Blues on Queen Street.
Relaxing on a nice summer day by the fountain on Phoenix Square, right on Queen Street.
Queen Street has been Fredericton’s main East-West street since the city of Fredericton was founded in 1783. After the first buildings were erected along the Saint John River—namely those forming the Military Compound such as the officers’ quarters, barracks, guard house, and training grounds—a street was traced running parallel to the river behind the compound that joined these buildings and spaces with each other. On the other side of the street, houses and shops were built, creating a continuous row of two- to three-storey buildings establishing the beginnings of the economic life of the town. This was Queen Street.
Three years later, a street grid was laid out with four streets running parallel to Queen Street, and nine streets running perpendicular. This centuries old grid pattern is still known today as the Town Plat.
The Town Plat plan placed nearly all of the city’s institutional and commercial buildings at the time along Queen Street. Gradually, other important institutions were set up along Queen Street as well: the Provincial Legislature in 1788; Christ Church Cathedral, the court house, and the farmers’ market in the 1850s; City Hall in 1876; and the Post Office shortly after that. It was clear that Queen Street was the backbone of the, now, capital city.
More than two centuries later, Queen Street remains the main axis of Fredericton’s downtown. Its 1.6 kilometres link together a whole row of institutional and commercial uses that are paramount to the functioning of the city. Traffic-wise, Queen Street is the westbound street within a trinary road system that also includes the eastbound Brunswick Street and the bidirectional King Street running in between. Whereas King Street has become the modern backbone of the Central Business District with banks, a shopping mall, offices, and a transit hub, Queen Street is the spine of the historic and cultural downtown. It provides a pedestrian and vehicular connection between the three layers of government, several cultural and educational establishments, the police, a whole array of retail shops, restaurants, and boutiques. It also joins a series of public spaces: the Green at the far east; The Provincial Parliament; Officers’ Square; and Phoenix Square. Even as a two-lane unidirectional street with parking on both sides, Queen Street feels wide enough to be safe and convenient for drivers, but still creates a comfortable pedestrian environment on both sidewalks, with the parking acting as a buffer.
Encourages social interaction: Queen Street feels very open to the community because of the many activities that take place along it. The diverse social and cultural celebrations that take place in Officers’ Square and Phoenix Square tend to spill out along Queen Street. For example, the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival—the largest annual music festival in Atlantic Canada—closes Queen Street to vehicular traffic, creating more space for pedestrians to enjoy the celebratory atmosphere and for vendors and artists to set up booths and display areas. Other events, such as celebrations by the Acadian, Scottish, Aboriginal, Gay & Lesbian, and Multicultural communities also use the sidewalks as a congregation space to complement the events of Officers’ Square. Queen Street also provides a setting for other community minded events such as the Fredericton Marathon and Feast in the Field, a fundraiser for Mobility New Brunswick.
Accessibility and usability by all: Queen Street is widely used by a diverse group of people. On any given day, different types of people are seen sitting on the benches along Queen Street. From the elderly to teenagers, from urban professionals to students, all of the blocks along Queen Street are universally accessible to all citizens. Recently, the municipality has worked with the downtown shop owners to place their sandwich board signs out of the public right-of-way and on the outer third of the sidewalk so as to not disrupt pedestrian flow or cause injury to people with disabilities.
Local character and personality: Queen Street truly is the heart of the downtown community. The street’s aperture to the river through Officers’ Square gives it a sense of visual openness. The historical look of the buildings reminds people of the city’s history all around them. More importantly, the fact that people use this street for all types of modern day activities bridges the connection between Fredericton’s past and present.
Year-round appeal: The street has a year-round appeal. During the winter months, some of the trees are beautifully decorated with coloured lights, and Officers’ Square is transformed into an outdoor skating rink. Most recently, the community placed urban art walls along Queen Street for graffiti artists to paint on.
As home to notable provincial and municipal landmarks such as the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Fredericton Playhouse, the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, and City Hall, Queen Street is arguably the cultural hub of the city of Fredericton. As a result, the street is now a favourite location for numerous communal and social activities, festivals and special events.
Summer months find the street packed with locals looking for everything from fitness to entertainment. From the popular outdoor summer concert series running twice a week in Officers’ Square and featuring local artists from week to week, to the popular Yoga at the Lighthouse, which draws fifty plus fitness enthusiasts every week, Queen Street offers something for everyone.
Beyond weekly-programmed events though, Queen Street is home to the majority of Fredericton’s festivals and special events. A full season of community events begins with the Cultural Expressions Festival. New to the City, this event is organized by the Multicultural Association of New Brunswick and aims to showcase Fredericton’s cultural diversity through culturally-specific games, dances, and storytelling from a variety of ethnic groups. Sprinkled throughout the rest of the season are a variety of other special events: Country MusicFest is a weekend long country music festival featuring national and local music stars; Fredericton Civic Pride throws a Canada Day block party in the provincial Capital; Fredericton Pride Week is a celebration of the city’s Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual Community; Feast in the Field is a fundraiser for Mobility New Brunswick and features the best of the best in the culinary arts here in Fredericton; and the New Brunswick Fine Craft Festival is a weekend-long outdoor sale of jewellery, pottery and textiles handmade by provincial fine craftspeople.
Most notable, however, is the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival – Atlantic Canada’s largest outdoor music festival – which closes out the season in mid-September. The weeklong extravaganza features over 400 musicians, 150 performances on 27 different stages, covers six city blocks, and excites one delirious city for five incredible days. This is Fredericton’s most popular and well-attended event for over 20 years. And it continues to grow at a rapid pace. This year, Queen Street was closed to traffic to accommodate dozens of artists, acrobats, jugglers, street performers, food vendors, and sidewalk buskers. The Harvest Jazz and Blues festival is Fredericton’s pride and joy, and widely-operated by a system of over 1,000 volunteers taking responsibility for everything from talent recruitment to bar sales.
Downtown Fredericton is the cultural and business centre of our growing city. Where uptown areas are quickly becoming popular destinations for new corporate big-box developments and chain retailers, downtown Fredericton—in particular Queen Street—is still home to dozens of unique and locally-owned retail and service retail businesses. Coupled with the many aforementioned cultural attractions, Queen Street remains one of Fredericton’s most eclectic areas rich in both character and history. A mix of which is evident throughout the summer months when a whole variety of modern-day events take place along the Street right next to historically protected areas.