1.1. Historic Saint John

The first people who lived here more than 12,000 years ago were the Wolastoqiyik who called this land Menahkwesk. During the summer, the Wolastoqiqik resided in villages along the Wolastoq River, living on sea bass, sturgeon, salmon, wild roots, and berries. They also planted corn, harvested in late summer before their winter migratory hunt for elk and bear. Birch bark was essential to the Wolastoqiyik culture as they used it to cover their tents and make canoes. Today, the Wolastoqiyik continue to live in and around Saint John.

In 1604, explorers from France, led by Sieur de Monts and Samuel de Champlain, reached the mouth of the Wolastoq River on June 24. This date is known as "Day of San Juan Bautista (St. John)", so they called the river, and the land, "St. John".

French settlers settled the area in 1631, building a fortress at the mouth of the river known as Fort La Tour. In the 1700s, the fort was destroyed by the governor of Acadia, and French settlers known as Acadians settled along the river. The British and French fought over who owned the land, and the Acadians were forcibly deported from the area. The British built forts and permanent British settlement began.

In 1783, a large influx of refugees from the American Revolutionary War arrived in Saint John. These "loyalists" wished to remain loyal to British rule. They settled in the communities of Parr Town and Carleton. In 1785, by Royal Charter, the two communities merged to form Saint John, Canada's first incorporated city.

Also known as "the port city," Saint John became a leading industrial center in the 19th century, primarily due to the shipbuilding trade. The city grew rapidly, with the largest influx of immigrants occurring during the Irish famine of the 1840s, adding "the most Irish city in Canada" to its list of names.

The city's port has welcomed people from all over the world, leaving a mark on Saint John's history through culture, architecture and traditions.