St. Stephen, New Brunswick Canada

Discover St. Stephen, New Brunswick: A Historical and Cultural Gem

St. Stephen, New Brunswick, is a charming Canadian town nestled on the east bank of the St. Croix River. This town, located at the intersection of New Brunswick Route 170 and the southern terminus of New Brunswick Route 3, is a treasure trove of history and culture. The St. Croix River forms a natural border between St. Stephen and Calais, Maine, with U.S. Route 1 running parallel to the river for a few miles. This article explores the rich history, vibrant culture, and unique attractions of St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

The Rich History of St. Stephen, New Brunswick

The Peskotomuhkati people were the first to inhabit the area along the St. Croix River. They lived off the land, hunting inland during the winter and gathering along the coast and islands during the summer. French explorer Samuel de Champlain and his men spent a winter here in 1604. However, the Peskotomuhkati were repeatedly forced off their lands by European settlers.

The Raid on St. Stephen (1704)

During Queen Anne's War, Major Benjamin Church of New England led a raid on the Acadian villages of Castine, Maine. From this raid, Church learned that Michel Chartier was granted the land of present-day St. Stephen and was building a fort at Passamaquoddy Bay. Church and his men arrived at the bay and surprised Chartier, leading to a three-hour exchange. The community was pillaged and plundered, and 35 Acadians and Peskotomuhkati were killed or imprisoned.

St. Stephen's Incorporation (1871)

St. Stephen was officially incorporated as a town in 1871. Two years later, the town was embroiled in controversy over the Houlton Branch Railway Company (HBRC) railway. The Supreme Court of New Brunswick ruled that the provincial taxation statute was unconstitutional, but the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overturned this decision.

The Great Fire of 1877

In 1877, a devastating fire almost destroyed St. Stephen's business district, burning eighty buildings and 13 wharves.

The 20th Century Economy of St. Stephen, New Brunswick

Before World War II, St. Stephen's economy was heavily based on the lumber and shipbuilding industry. By the early 1900s, 200 ships had been built in the St. Croix waters. However, by the end of World War II, the town's main employers were Ganong Bros. Limited, Canada's oldest candy company, and the St. Croix Cotton Mill, Canada's second largest textile mill.

Municipal Amalgamation (1970s)

In the 1970s, the municipalities of St. Stephen and Milltown amalgamated to become what is now simply known as St. Stephen.

Celebrating Chocolate in St. Stephen, New Brunswick

Every August since 1985, St. Stephen hosts a week-long Chocolate Fest, celebrating their rich and delicious heritage. The festival led to the opening of The Chocolate Museum in 1999 and its expansion in 2009. In 2000, St. Stephen was given the title of "Canada's Chocolate Town."

The December 2010 Flood in St. Stephen, New Brunswick

On 13 December 2010, a rainstorm caused a flood upstream on a tributary to Dennis Stream, causing hardship to businesses located on or near King Street.

Demographics of St. Stephen, New Brunswick

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, St. Stephen had a population of 4,510 living in 2,073 of its 2,278 total private dwellings, a change of 2.2% from its 2016 population of 4,415.

The Climate of St. Stephen, New Brunswick

St. Stephen has a temperate climate, greatly affected by the Bay of Fundy. The average summer temperature is 22 °C, with the average winter temperature being -3.9 °C.

The International Border of St. Stephen, New Brunswick

The St. Croix River marks a section of the international boundary between the United States and Canada. This section of the river and the land surrounding it was fought over heavily by both the French and the English during the 1600s.

Transportation in St. Stephen, New Brunswick

St. Stephen is served by Route 1 and Route 170, which runs through town along King Street and Milltown Blvd. U.S. Route 1 serves connects to the Ferry Point Bridge from Main Street, Calais, Maine.