The City of Calais, Maine, is located in eastern Washington County situated on the Canadian border and the beautiful St. Croix River. Calais shares three international border crossings and a longstanding history with St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. Calais has historically been a city of commerce and is recognized as the primary shopping center of eastern Washington County and Charlotte County, New Brunswick. The communities of Calais, Maine and St. Stephen, New Brunswick have shared lives as “border towns” in a most neighbourly fashion. In fact, in 1812 the people of St. Stephen loaned Calais sufficient gunpowder to celebrate the 4th of July while both countries were technically at war.
The St. Croix River marks the Canada-US border between Maine and New Brunswick. The river was an early trade corridor to interior Maine and New Brunswick from the Atlantic coast. Ocean ships could navigate upstream to Calais and St. Stephen; although tidal fluctuation made Eastport a preferred port for deeper draft vessels. The river upstream of Calais and St. Stephen became an important transportation corridor for log driving to bring wooden logs and pulpwood from interior foreststo sawmills and paper mills built to use water power at Calais and Woodland.
Visit downtown Calais, or use it as your home base to go fly fishing for landlocked salmon on one of the 40 lakes that are within 30 miles of this town. Just a short drive from Calais, you can also explore the 23,000-acre Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, where you may be able to spot moose, deer, bear, eagles, beaver, mink, geese or woodcock.
St. Stephen was incorporated as a town in 1871. The addition of railroads to the area added another facet to St. Stephen’s heritage by providing transportation to serve the burgeoning manufacturing sector. At one time the town was home to factories producing many goods, namely soap, shoes, baskets, axes, cigars, carriages, and of course chocolate.
The architecture and some of the enterprises of this era can still be seen in St. Stephen, including the chance to sample the wares of a major candy manufacturer. While times have changed, the perseverance of the people and diversification of its economic base have allowed the town to thrive.