It is no longer common knowledge, but “Rabbit Town” was the informal name of a section of housing on Fredericton’s southside. Google Maps places the neighbourhood between Smythe, York, Aberdeen, and Albert Streets.
There is no official record of how Rabbit Town got its name, but it is thought to have originated in the early 1900s – the area was defined by its proximity to the Fredericton Branch Railway that ran parallel to Aberdeen Street. The story begins with the opening of Fredericton’s first train station in 1869 at the corner of Victoria and Northumberland, which prompted many factories and businesses to be built in the surrounding area. In 1923, the train station was moved to York Street, where it remains (now decommissioned).
As all of the businesses and industries began to populate the area, the neighbourhood that would become known as Rabbit Town saw a housing boom, with property being bought up at record rates by middle-class workers. It eventually expanded towards Regent Street and up toward Montgomery.
The most likely reason for the name is that in the 1930s and 1940s, rabbit snaring was quite common, and rabbits would sell for ten cents a piece for meat and pelts. People even began to breed rabbits in their backyards.
Another theory is that the area received its nickname due to the idea that middle-class workers ‘bred like rabbits.’
The name Rabbit Town has received some more recent attention, with a variety of small businesses in Fredericton adopting a version of the name. Some examples are Rabbittown Beverage Company and Rabbit Town Community Technologies Company. There is also a park off of Argyle Street that older residents of the area were successful in having officially named after Rabbit Town.
Though the area no longer has any significant population of rabbits, and the mystery of the name may never be solved, the nickname Rabbit Town adds a charming depth to a historic Fredericton neighbourhood.