Until 1997, the riding was largely held by the Liberal Party thanks to strong support from the francophone Acadian population. There is also a notable Red Tory tendency in the riding that enabled the former Progressive Conservative Party to win on occasion. In the 1997 federal election, the New Democratic Party's Yvon Godin won an unexpected victory over powerful Liberal cabinet minister Doug Young, mostly due to his Union connections and EI recipients' reaction to Liberal cuts to Employment Insurance. Godin held the riding until his retirement as of the 2015 federal election, at which point the Liberals reclaimed the riding as part of their sweep of Atlantic Canada.
MP Yvon Godin's personal popularity ensured dominance throughout the riding for the NDP. His long-time experience as a Union organizer possibly helped since he was otherwise not well known in Bathurst before the election, having moved in from the Acadian Peninsula where he was from. The Conservatives won just two polls in the Bathurst area and while the Liberals won most of the mobile polls, they won just one non-mobile poll, in Inkerman.
The electoral district was created at confederation in 1867, and was known as "Gloucester" until its name was changed in 1990.
In 2004, there were some legal problems regarding the 2003 boundaries. The following is from the Elections Canada website: