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.
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.