Miscou Island, 64 km2, comprises the most eastern part of Gloucester County, New Brunswick, on the west side of the Gulf of St Lawrence and at the entrance to CHALEUR BAY. The island is characterized by white sandy beaches, peat bogs, stunted trees, lakes, salt lagoons and a lighthouse at the northern tip, Miscou Point. Originally inhabited by the MI'KMAQ, it was discovered by Jacques CARTIER in 1534. Its name derives from the Mi'kmaq susqu meaning "boggy marsh" or "low land." Basque fishermen frequented the coast along it and neighbouring ÎLE LAMÈQUE in the late 1500s.
The island differs from what is known as the Acadian peninsula and islands because many of its early settlers were English-speaking and their descendants still make up a large percentage of the population. Although populated by fishermen from France before the island passed to Britain in 1763, permanent settlement did not occur until the early 1800s. Scottish settlers around Miscou Harbour were followed by fishermen from the Isle of Jersey and ACADIANS who settled on the northern coast. The lighthouse was built in 1856 and designated a national historic site in 1974. In 1996 it was connected by bridge to Île Lamèque.