Border Town: A snapshot of life in St. Stephen, N.B.

Posted on August 31, 2023 | By Ian Curran | 0 Comments


Downtown St. Stephen, New Brunswick (Photo credit: Ian Curran)


The golden light of the rising sun paints a picturesque scene on St. Stephen, New Brunswick’s Coastal Link waterfront trail. Following the St. Croix River in parallel, this popular paved walkway, once a high demand supply port for ships and trains in Charlotte County, is now a go-to destination for tourists and locals alike.

Its main draw, however, is not the enchanting scenery or the convenient downtown location, but the immediate view of the neighbouring town of Calais, Maine. The pavement, impressed by millions of unique footprints, continues for kilometers until reaching the Ferry Point International Bridge connecting Canada and the United States. This bridge is a gateway joining the downtown districts of the two communities.

A small border town in Southwest New Brunswick, St. Stephen houses three bridges crossing over the St. Croix River to Calais, Maine. Billing itself as the “middle of everywhere”, it’s an important hub for businesses and transportation across North America. It’s a resting place for transport truck drivers, an ideal place for businesses to locate and even a picturesque tourist destination.

“You’ve got about 10,000 people sitting across an imaginary borderline called the St. Croix River,” says local resident and contractor Mike Smith. “It’s more than two countries. It’s family, friends, and relatives.”

“There’s nothing like border life because you have two different mindsets that are melded together to form a community. We go to each other’s graduations, weddings, funerals and so on.”

—Mike Smith, resident and business owner, St. Stephen

As someone who grew up here in the 1960s, Smith says there are hardly any families in St. Stephen who do not have relatives in Calais. “It’s one big community. I remember crossing the border at least a dozen times every day when I was young.”

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