Saint John Overview

Saint John is the largest city in New Brunswick, with a population of 125,000, where the St. John River meets the Bay of Fundy. The city is a 90-minute drive from the US border at Calais, Maine, a two hour flight from Toronto, and 75 minutes from Montreal. It the largest commercial port on the Bay of Fundy and home to the world s highest tides (8.6 meters or 28 feet at this point) and the world-famous Reversing Falls. The city has a temperate climate because of the cool waters, though they never freeze.

The city’s downtown is linked by an indoor climate-controlled pedway system lining downtown buildings, stores and attractions. The city is home to Moosehead Breweries,a s well as head office for the industrial empire of the late KC Irving, who was one of the world’s richest men He started with a single gas station and grew it into Irving oil, with Canada’s largest oil refinery, the province’s largest timber holdings and a chain of grocery stores.

Today, Saint John is known for its rich architectural heritage, vibrant arts scene, and picturesque waterfront. The city is home to numerous historic buildings, including the Loyalist House, which is a National Historic Site of Canada. The Saint John City Market, one of the oldest continuously operating farmers’ markets in North America, is another popular attraction.

Saint John History

Saint John, located in the province of New Brunswick, was founded by French explorers in the early 1600s. The area  was originally inhabited by the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations. In 1604, French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived and established a settlement named Fort Sainte-Marie on the site of present-day Saint John. However, the French presence and settlement in the area  was abandoned within a year.

In the early 1700s, the region was claimed by the British, and in 1783, a group of United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolutionary War settled in the area. These Loyalist settlers, along with other immigrants, played a crucial role in the growth and development of Saint John, which quickly grew into a major trading center and a hub for shipbuilding and New Brunswick’s timber industries.

During the 1800s, Saint John experienced significant economic growth, benefitting from a natural harbor strategically located at the mouth of the Saint John River on the Bay of Fundy. Saint John became a major center for the export of timber, fish, and other natural resources, contributing to its prosperity.

In 1833, Saint John became the first incorporated city in Canada. The city attracted immigrants from various parts of the world, including Ireland, Scotland, and England giving the city a diverse cultural heritage of these immigrants.

In 1877 a devastating fire destroyed a large portion of Saint John. In The Great Fire of 1877, the city lost thousands of buildings and left over 20,000 people homeless. During the city’s recovery, the city implemented stricter fire safety measures and required the construction of more fire-resistant buildings.

In the 20th century, Saint John continued to thrive as an industrial and commercial center. The city expanded its manufacturing sector, with industries such as shipbuilding, oil refining, and pulp and paper production playing a significant role in the local economy. The Port of Saint John remains an important deepwater port and a vital link for international trade.

Saint John, New Brunswick Area Map

Saint John, New Brunswick Road Trip Planner (explore our directory)

Look for what to see & do, and where to stay in Saint John and the nearby communities along the Bay of Fundy.  First click on the LOCALE to search, then use the CATEGORY filter on the left side for the feature of interest!

Saint John NB, waterfront with bridge (DL Earle) -sliver

Saint John

Saint John New Brunswick Tours and Experiences

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