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Samuel de Champlain at Queens Square


The Saint John area was nurtured by its first inhabitants, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet—long before its European discovery. 

On a voyage in 1604, Samuel-de-Champlain named the St. John River in honour of St. Jean the Baptiste. Following the American Revolution, 14,000 American British supporters arrived, and in 1783 settled at the mouth of the St. John River. In 1785 this “Loyalist city” was incorporated by Royal Charter, making it Canada’s first incorporated city.

Also referred to as "The Port City”, Saint John became a leading industrial centre in the nineteenth century, mostly due to a robust shipbuilding trade. The city quickly grew, with the largest influx of immigrants occurring during the Irish famine of the 1840s, adding "Canada’s most Irish City” to its list of names.

Since then, the City's harbour has continued to welcome people from across the globe and each group has left an imprint on Saint John through culture, architecture, and people.