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Campobello Island is a Canadian island located at the entrance to Passamaquoddy Bay, adjacent to the entrance to Cobscook Bay, and within the Bay of Fundy. The island is one of the Fundy Islands and is part of Charlotte County, New Brunswick. Campobello Island is also a Rural Community.
Measuring 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) long and about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) wide, it has an area of 39.6 square kilometres (15.3 sq mi). The island's permanent population in 2011 was 925.
The island was originally settled by the Passamaquoddy Nation, who called it Ebaghuit.
The first Europeans were reportedly from the French expedition of Pierre Dugua de Monts (Sieur de Monts) and Samuel de Champlain, who founded the nearby St. Croix Island settlement in 1604. France named the island Port aux Coquilles ("Shell Harbour"). Following the War of the Spanish Succession, under terms of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), the island came under British control and was placed in the colony of Nova Scotia, having ceased to be included in the French colony of Acadia.
In 1770, a grant of the island was made to Captain William Owen (1737–1778) of the Royal Navy, who renamed it Campobello. The island's name was derived from Britain's Governor of Nova Scotia, Lord William Campbell, and was mixed with "bello" from the French, Spanish and Italian origins of the word "beautiful". The creation of the colony of New Brunswick in 1784 saw the island transferred to the new jurisdiction, and by the end of the 18th century the small island had a thriving community and economy, partly aided by Loyalist refugees fleeing the American Revolutionary War. Smuggling was a major part of the island's prosperity after the Revolution, a custom to which local officials largely turned a blind eye. During the War of 1812 the Royal Navy seized coastal lands of Maine as far south as the Penobscot River but returned them following the war, except for offshore islands. In 1817 the U.S. relinquished its claim to the Fundy Isles (Campobello, Deer, and Grand Manan islands), and the British returned islands in Cobscook Bay including Moose Island but notably did not return Machias Seal Island. By the mid-19th century, Campobello Island had a population in excess of 1,000. In 1910, 1,230 people lived there.
In 1866, a band of more than 700 members of the Fenian Brotherhood arrived at the Maine shore opposite the island with the intention of seizing Campobello from the British. British warships from Halifax, Nova Scotia were quickly on the scene and a military force dispersed the Fenians. This action served to reinforce the idea of protection for New Brunswick by joining with the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, Canada East, and Canada West in Confederation to form the Dominion of Canada.
Campobello has always relied heavily on fishing as the mainstay of the island economy; however, the Passamaquoddy Bay region's potential for tourism was discovered during the 1880s at about the same time as The Algonquin resort was built at nearby St. Andrews and the resort community of Bar Harbor was beginning to develop. Campobello Island became home to a similar, although much smaller and more exclusive, development following the acquisition of some island properties by several private American investors. A luxurious resort hotel was built and the island became a popular summer colony for wealthy Canadians and Americans, many of whom built grand estates there.
Included in this group were Sara Delano and her husband James Roosevelt Sr. from New York. Sara Delano had a number of Delano cousins living in Maine, and Campobello offered a beautiful summer retreat where their family members could easily visit. From 1883 onward, the Roosevelt family made Campobello Island their summer home. Their son, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, would spend his summers on Campobello from the age of one until, as an adult, he acquired a larger property — a 34-room "cottage" — which he used as a summer retreat until 1939. It was here that Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., was born in August 1914. It was at Campobello, in August 1921, that the future president fell ill with a paralytic illness, at the time thought to be polio, which resulted in his total and permanent paralysis from the waist down. Roosevelt did strive for seven years to regain use of his legs but never again walked unassisted.
During the 20th century, the island's prosperity from its wealthy visitors declined with the change in lifestyles brought on by a new mobility afforded by automobiles, airplanes, and air conditioning in large inland cities. Nonetheless, for President Roosevelt, the tranquility was exactly what he and his family cherished, and the property remained in their hands until 1952 when it was sold by Elliott Roosevelt (Franklin and Eleanor's fourth child). Elliott decided to sell the house after his mother, Eleanor, had sold it to him. Elliott sold it to Victor Hammer and his brother Armand Hammer of Boston and they owned it up until 1963. However, they said Eleanor was always welcome to come whenever she pleased, and her last visit was in 1962 to attend the opening of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bridge connecting Campobello Island to Lubec, Maine. In 1962 the brothers tried to sell it but got no takers; they subsequently donated the cottage to the U.S. and Canadian governments in 1963 as an international park. The Roosevelt Campobello International Park is the only one of its kind because it is run by both the Canadian and American governments, the park being located in Canadian territory. The park is now equally staffed by both Americans and Canadians.
In 1960, motion-picture producer Dore Schary and director Vincent J. Donehue made the film Sunrise at Campobello, based on Schary's Tony Award winning Broadway play of the same name. Starring Ralph Bellamy as Franklin D. Roosevelt, the film covered the years 1921 to 1924 at Campobello Island and events leading up to Roosevelt's nomination as the Democratic Party's candidate for president.
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