Saint John was first discovered by French explorer Samuel de Champlain on St. John The Baptist's Day in 1604. It was fortified by Charles LaTour in 1631, making Fort LaTour (as it was known then) the first French settlement in New Brunswick.
British troops seized Fort LaTour in 1758 and renamed it Fort Frederick. After it was destroyed during the American Revolution, Fort Howe was built in its place by United Empire Loyalists. The communities of Parrtown and Carleton were built around the fort. The two towns amalglamated to become the City of Saint John in 1785, making it Canada's first incorporated city.
During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Saint John's location made it a probable target for American attacks. Several military forts were constructed, many of which still stand today as tourist attractions.
Saint John became the province's foremost industrial city during the 19th century, fostering a shipbuilding trade that lasted until very recently, in addition to being a major forestry centre. Saint John looked poised to become one of Canada's major cities, but a fire in 1877 which destroyed a good portion of downtown sealed its fate, and it could be argued the city never fully recovered.
Nevertheless, Saint John remained an industrial powerhouse. Wealthy businessman K.C. Irving and his family built his empire around the city in the 20th century, headlined by a large oil company which bears his name. Irving holdings also include substantial forestry, shipbuilding, media and transportation assets. It could be said today that the Irving family maintains a stranglehold on the pulse of Saint John.
A major urban renewal project in the 1970s turned Saint John from a dreary, down-looking city to a vibrant one with lots of historical charm. Each day, the city's "uptown" (called such as it is located on a hill) is buzzing with activity, more so than in most other cities its size. All of southern New Brunswick has benefitted from Saint John's upswing, as tourists are now drawn to the scenic Fundy coast and Saint John River valley.
The high tides of the Bay of Fundy create a physical oddity in Saint John, known as the Reversing Falls. The water at high tide pushes the bay water up the Saint John River, making it look like the river is flowing away from the bay instead of towards it.
In 1964, the University of New Brunswick opened a campus in Saint John.
The mayor of Saint John is Shirley MacAlary, first elected in 1994.
"Saint" in Saint John is never abbreviated. Also, do not confuse Saint John with St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Notablepeople born in Saint John include: