St. Stephen | The Canadian Encyclopedia


St. Stephen

St. Stephen, New Brunswick, incorporated as a town in 1973, population 4,415 (2016 census), 4,817 (2011 census). The town of St. Stephen is located on the St. Croix River in southwestern New Brunswick. First incorporated as a town in 1871, in 1973 St. Stephen was amalgamated with nearby Milltown (incorporated 1878) to form St. Stephen-Milltown. The incorporated name of St. Stephen has been used since 1975.


St. Stephen is located on the traditional territory the Passamaquoddy. Around 1780, the site was occupied by a small band of enterprising settlers in search of timber resources for a mill operation. In 1784, they were joined by members of the Port Matoon Association, a group composed mainly of disbanded soldiers from the American Revolution. First called Morristown to honour the surveyor-general of Nova Scotia, it was soon renamed St. Stephen. In addition to honouring Saint Stephen himself, the new name also honoured the surveyor of the parish (of the same name), Stephen Pendleton.

Development and Economy

St. Stephen was a prosperous shipping and shipbuilding centre on the Bay of Fundy for much of the 19th century. Industrial expansion in the latter half of that century saw the rise of a cotton mill in nearby Milltown, soap and axe factories, and Ganong Bros Ltd. Founded in 1873, Ganong Bros Ltd. is Canada’s oldest independently owned chocolate company. The company remains one of the town’s major employers. St. Stephen is also the retail and service centre for Charlotte County.

Cultural Life

St. Stephen hosts Chocolate Fest each August and is home to the Chocolate Museum. The International Homecoming Festival celebrates the close ties between St. Stephen and Calais, Maine, which lies across the St. Croix River.