Calais, Maine

Calais /ˈkæləs/[4] is a city in Washington County, Maine, United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 3,123, making Calais the third least-populous city in Maine (after Hallowell and Eastport).[5] The city has three Canada–US border crossings (also known as ports of entry) over the St. Croix River connecting to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada.

Calais has been a city of commerce and is recognized as the primary shopping center of eastern Washington County and of Charlotte County, New Brunswick. Retail, service, and construction businesses are the primary components of the Calais economy.

Calais, Maine
Skyline of Calais, Maine
Calais, Maine is located in Maine
Calais, Maine
Calais, Maine
Location within the state of Maine
Coordinates: 45°9′58″N 67°14′33″W / 45.16611°N 67.24250°WCoordinates: 45°9′58″N 67°14′33″W / 45.16611°N 67.24250°W
CountryUnited States
IncorporatedJune 16, 1809
 • MayorMarianne Moore
 • Total40.10 sq mi (103.86 km2)
 • Land34.32 sq mi (88.89 km2)
 • Water5.78 sq mi (14.97 km2)
43 ft (13 m)
 • Total3,123
 • Estimate 
 • Density78/sq mi (30/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)207
FIPS code23-09585
GNIS feature ID0563341


This area was occupied for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. The historic Passamaquoddy, an Algonquian-speaking people of the Wabanaki Confederacy, was predominant in this area at the time of European encounter and settlement.

The St. Croix River and its area were first explored by the French Samuel de Champlain when he and his men spent a winter on St. Croix Island in 1604. The first permanent settler was Daniel Hill of Jonesboro, who arrived in 1779 during the American Revolutionary War, when this was still part of Massachusetts. With other settlers, he built the first sawmill in 1782. On June 27, 1789, the Massachusetts General Court sold the township to Waterman Thomas for 19¢ an acre (approx. $2.86 an acre in 2018 dollars). Early occupations in the settlement included farming, hunting and ship building.[6]

On June 16, 1809, Plantation Number 5 PS was incorporated as Calais after Calais, France, in honor of French assistance during the American Revolution. The river provided the mill town with water power for industry, which included sawmills, clapboard and shingle mills, two planing mills, a saw factory, two axe factories and four grain mills. There were foundries, machine shops, granite works, shoe factories and a tannery. Other businesses produced bricks, bedsteads, brooms, carriages and plaster.[7]

The relationship between Calais and the neighboring Canadian town of St. Stephen has been remarkably close, over a period of many years. As evidence of the longtime friendship between the towns, during the War of 1812, the British military provided St. Stephen with a large supply of gunpowder for protection against the enemy Americans in Calais, but St. Stephen's town elders gave the gunpowder to Calais for its Fourth of July celebrations.[8]

Calais is the home of the first railroad built in the state of Maine, the Calais Railroad, incorporated by the state legislature on February 17, 1832.[9] It was built to transport lumber from a mill on the St. Croix River opposite Milltown, New Brunswick, 2 miles (3 km) to the tidewater at Calais in 1835. In 1849, the name was changed to the Calais & Baring Railroad, and the line was extended 4 miles (6 km) farther to Baring.[10] In 1870, it became part of the St. Croix & Penobscot Railroad.[11]

Calais was incorporated as a city on August 24, 1850. On July 18, 1864, Confederate agents crossed the border from New Brunswick and attempted to rob a bank in Calais.[12]

The Calais Free Library was designed by noted Boston architect Arthur H. Vinal and opened on July 4, 1893. The Romanesque Revival building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

Other places in Calais listed on the National Register of Historic Places are the Calais Historic District, Calais Residential Historic District, Devils Head Site, Gilmore House, Thomas Hamilton House, Hinckley Hill Historic District, Holmes Cottage, Dr. Job Holmes House, Theodore Jellison House, Pike's Mile Markers, St. Anne's Episcopal Church, George Washburn House and Whitlocks Mill Light.

Main Street, Calais, ME

Main Street in 1913

Calais Avenue, Calais, ME

Calais Avenue c. 1905

International Bridge, Calais, ME

International Bridge in 1913

Looking East from Bridge, Calais, ME

Looking east from bridge in 1908


Calais viewed from St. Stephen across the St. Croix River
Calais viewed from St. Stephen across the St. Croix River

Calais is located at 45°9′58″N 67°14′33″W / 45.16611°N 67.24250°W (45.166045, -67.242434).[13]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 40.10 square miles (103.86 km2), of which, 34.32 square miles (88.89 km2) is land and 5.78 square miles (14.97 km2) is water.[1] Calais is located at the head of tide on the St. Croix River.

Recently, the City of Calais acquired Devil's Head. The site comprises 318 acres (1.29 km2) of land, one mile (1.6 km) of frontage on the St. Croix River estuary, and 6/10 of a mile of frontage on U.S. Route 1. Significant features on the property include a 340-foot (100 m) high granite headland towering over the estuary, a low-tide sand and boulder beach, upland forest, and abundant wildlife. Trail construction was completed in 2003.

Calais is the northern terminus of the East Coast Greenway, which has its southern terminus in Key West, Florida.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20162,965[3]−5.1%

2010 census

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 3,123 people, 1,403 households, and 771 families residing in the city. The population density was 91.0 inhabitants per square mile (35.1/km2). There were 1,737 housing units at an average density of 50.6 per square mile (19.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.5% White, 0.5% African American, 1.3% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 1,403 households of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.8% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.0% were non-families. 39.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.80.

The median age in the city was 45.3 years. 19.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 20% were from 25 to 44; 29.9% were from 45 to 64; and 20.5% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.


The City of Calais operates under the council-manager form of government. The current city manager is James Porter. Some past city managers include: William Bridgeo, Nancy Orr, Nicholas Mull, Linda Pagels, Mark Ryckman, Diane Barnes and James Porter. The current city mayor is Billy Howard.[15]


Public schools

Calais has an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, and a technical school.

Higher education

Calais is home to a two-year community college. The nearest four-year university is located in Machias, Maine.



Calais is located at the junction of U.S. 1, a major north-south highway that runs along the Eastern Seaboard, and Route 9, which crosses the state from east to west. Since October 25, 2012, the city also has had direct access to New Brunswick Route 1, a controlled-access freeway that begins at the Canada–US border and runs east through Saint John to a junction with the Trans-Canada Highway. West's Bus Service operates a bus service between Calais and Bangor.[16]


Calais Regional Hospital (CRH) currently has 15 acute care beds and 10 swing beds, in addition to a 24-hour physician staffed emergency department. It serves northeastern Washington County with an approximate population of 14,000 from Topsfield to the north, Wesley to the west, and Eastport to the south. CRH is the largest employer in Calais, employing more than 200 people. The hospital is licensed by the State of Maine.

Public safety

Calais has a full-time police, fire, and EMS department.

Notable people

International border crossings

Calais View08
U.S. Port of Entry

The Ferry Point International Bridge and the Milltown International Bridge connect Calais to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. Construction began in 2008 on a third bridge and Port of entry (POE) to connect the two communities. Referred to as the International Avenue Bridge, this bridge and POE opened on November 16, 2009, and serves commercial, cargo, trucking, passenger vehicles, campers, RVs, and buses. However, both the Ferry Point and Milltown crossings remain in use for passenger vehicles and pedestrians.[17]

The new inspection facility alleviates traffic congestion from downtown Calais and the neighboring towns in Canada. It is equipped with state-of-the-art security equipment that allows for efficient processing of both commercial and passenger vehicles. The new facility is occupied by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). This facility was built as part of GSA's high-performance green building program and has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for comprehensive use of sustainable design and technology. Recycled, reused, and local materials were used during the construction. The facility conserves energy by bringing natural light into every occupied space, and conserves water by using low-flow fixtures that consumes 40 percent less water than traditional plumbing. The Calais port of entry, designed by Robert Siegel Architects, provides six lanes of non-commercial inspection and three lanes of commercial inspection.

Sites of interest


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  4. ^ The Canadian Press (2017), The Canadian Press Stylebook (18th ed.), Toronto: The Canadian Press
  5. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Calais city, Maine". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2012.
  6. ^ Coolidge, Austin J.; John B. Mansfield (1859). A History and Description of New England. Boston, Massachusetts. pp. 81–82.
  7. ^ Varney, George J. (1886), Gazetteer of the state of Maine. Calais, Boston: Russell
  8. ^ "PM opens new crossing". Saint Croix Courier, January 12, 2010.
  9. ^ Henry V. Poor (1860). Railroads and Canals of the United States of America. New York: John H. Schultz & Co. p. 35.
  10. ^ Henry V. Poor (1860). Railroads and Canals of the United States of America. New York: John H. Schultz & Co. pp. 21–2.
  11. ^ "Report on the Agencies of Transportation in the United States 1880". Washington DC: United States Census Bureau. 1883.
  12. ^ Mason Philip Smith. "Confederates Downeast". The Provincial Press. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  13. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  14. ^ "Minor Civil Division Population Search Results". Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  15. ^
  16. ^ West's Transportation: The Coastal Connection
  17. ^ "U.S. gives go ahead to third bridge" Archived 2008-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, St. Croix Courier, September 26, 2006.

External links

Alan MacPherson

Alan H. MacPherson (August 10, 1934 - December 8, 2008, Laguna Beach, California, United States) was an American patent attorney who pioneered the "clean room" defense.

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson (born August 13, 1975) is an American poet and activist from Calais, Maine, who has lived in Boulder, Colorado since 1999. Their poetry focuses on gender norms, politics, social reform, and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today's society.

Blaine McKusick

James Gilespie Blaine McKusick (February 23, 1888 – August 8, 1960) was an American football and basketball coach. He served as both the head football coach and head basketball coach at the University of South Dakota from 1916 to 1917.McKusick attended Bowdoin College in Maine before becoming a student at the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1911. He also served as the head football coach at Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri in 1920.

Calais Branch

The Calais Branch is a mothballed railroad line in Maine that was operated by the Maine Central Railroad Company (MEC).

The Calais Branch is 127 miles (204 km) long and connects Brewer to Calais. It was constructed in 1898 and carried freight and passengers over the years. Passenger service was discontinued in 1957 and freight service was discontinued over the majority of the western end of the line in 1984. The line also includes a spur to Eastport which joins the Calais Branch at Ayers Junction.

Frederick A. Pike

Frederick Augustus Pike (December 9, 1816 – December 2, 1886) was a U.S. Representative from Maine.

George Leland Dyer

George Leland Dyer (August 26, 1849 in Calais, Maine – April 2, 1914 in Winter Park, Florida) was an American naval commander and the Governor of U.S. territory of Guam. In 1870, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy with honors and began his career in the United States Navy. During his career, he commanded the Stranger (1898), the Yankton (1898–1901), the Rainbow (1902–1903), and the Albany (1903–1904).

From 1904-1905, he served as Governor of Guam.

In 1908, he was promoted to Commodore and retired that year.

He lived in Winter Park, Florida until he died on April 2, 1914.

Gilmore House (Calais, Maine)

The Gilmore House is a historic house at 764 River Road in Calais, Maine. The 2-1/2 story wood frame house was designed by New Brunswick architect Matthew Stead and built c. 1850, probably for Alexander Gilmore, an Irish immigrant and local merchant. The house is a remarkably sophisticated execution of Gothic Revival styling, given that at the time of its construction, Calais was essentially a frontier town. It is the most sophisticated of a trio of Gothic Revival houses. It is, like one of its neighbors, the George Washburn House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although its address has changed since its listing.The Gilmore House is a roughly rectangular block, with its main facade facing southeast, and a secondary facade facing southwest, toward the street. Its main roof spine runs parallel to the street, and the street-facing facade has two cross gables flanking a central three-part window on the second level. The gables are decorated with bargeboard, finials, and pendants. Narrow rectangular windows are placed in the gables, and the second level windows have slender hoods. The first floor is sheltered by a porch which extends across the front of the house, and wraps partway onto the southwest facade. The porch roof is supported by slender columns that are connected by woodwork Gothic arches.The front of the house is three bays wide. The second level center bay has a balcony, with a projecting gable section partially sheltering it. It is also decoratively enhanced with bargeboard, pendants, and a finial at the top. The northwest and northeast faces of the house are less ornately decorated, but there is still some decorative trim. A two-story addition extends northeast.

Harold H. Murchie

Harold Hale Murchie (March 8, 1888 - March 7, 1953) was an American politician and judge from Maine. Murchie, a Republican from Calais, Maine, served for 10 years in the Maine Legislature, including two terms in the Maine House of Representatives (1918-1922) and three terms in the Maine Senate (1928-1934). He was elected Senate President for his final term in 1933-1934.

He was appointed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on March 8, 1949, which was Murchie's 61st birthday. He died in office almost exactly 4 years later, on March 7, 1953.

Horatio Nelson Young

Horatio Nelson Young (July 19, 1845 – July 3, 1913) was a United States Navy sailor who received the Medal of Honor for his actions on the USS Lehigh during the American Civil War.

International Avenue Bridge

The International Avenue Bridge is an international bridge across the St. Croix River, connecting the town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick in Canada with the town of Calais, Maine in the United States.

It is the third, busiest, and newest bridge connecting the two communities, in addition to the Ferry Point International Bridge and the Milltown International Bridge. The International Avenue Bridge serves commercial, cargo, trucking, passenger vehicles, campers, RVs, buses and other heavy and through traffic, while both the Ferry Point and Milltown crossings remain in use for passenger vehicles and local traffic, which could also use the International Avenue Bridge.

Manly B. Townsend

Manly B. Townsend (1803-1849) was an American politician and lawyer from Maine. Townsend served three single year terms (1844, 1845, 1848) in the Maine Senate. In 1845, he was the Senate President.

Townsend was born in Sidney, Maine and graduated from Waterville College. From 1831 to 1842, he practiced law in Calais, Maine and from 1842 until his death in 1849, he lived in the nearby town of Alexander.

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge

Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is one of the northernmost National Wildlife Refuges in the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory route that follows the eastern coast of North America. The refuge provides important feeding and nesting habitat for many bird species, including waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, upland game birds, songbirds, and birds of prey.

The refuge consists of two divisions. The Baring Division covers 20,016 acres (81.00 km2) and is located off U.S. Route 1, southwest of Calais, Maine. The 8,735-acre (35.35 km2) Edmunds Division is between Dennysville and Whiting on U.S. Route 1 and borders the tidal waters of Cobscook Bay. Each division contains a National Wilderness Area, thousands of acres managed to preserve their wild character for future generation.

The East Coast Greenway, connecting Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida, runs through part of the refuge.

Roger Lyndon

Roger Conant Lyndon (December 18, 1917 – June 8, 1988) was an American mathematician, for many years a professor at the University of Michigan. He is known for Lyndon words, the Curtis–Hedlund–Lyndon theorem, Craig–Lyndon interpolation and the Lyndon–Hochschild–Serre spectral sequence.

Ron Corning

Ron Corning (born June 23, 1971) is an American television host most recently at the ABC affiliate WFAA in Dallas, Texas. He co-anchored the station's morning newscast, Daybreak, and was solo anchor of Midday, the station's one-hour noon newscast.Corning was raised in Calais, Maine, and graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts. He began his broadcasting career as a general assignment reporter for WDTV, the CBS affiliate in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and then as weekend anchor and reporter at one of WDTV's rivals, WBOY, the NBC affiliate in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He next spent some time performing the same duties at WTOV in Steubenville, Ohio, before moving on to his first major market job at KTVI, the Fox station in St. Louis, Missouri. From there he went on to the Fox affiliate in Seattle, Washington, KCPQ.

Corning made his jump to the national stage as host and news anchor of The Daily Buzz, an American breakfast television show syndicated to affiliates of UPN and The WB (now joined as The CW) across the U.S.

From 2004 to August 2006, Corning co-anchored World News Now and ABC World News This Morning. In 2006 while at ABC News People Magazine' named Corning one of the 'Most Beautiful People'.

That same year MSN named him one of 'The Best Anchors'.

Corning joined Jodi Applegate as co-anchor of Good Day New York at the flagship FOX owned affiliate WNYW on August 28, 2006. His contract was not renewed while on vacation in April 2008 to make room for Fox News Channel correspondent Greg Kelly, son of NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

On September 17, 2008, Applegate was also released from the station. The two were reunited in November 2009 at Cablevision's News 12 Long Island as evening anchor team. Applegate left News 12 in October 2010.

In April 2011 Corning replaced Chris Flanagan as co-host of WFAA's Daybreak.

St. Anne's Episcopal Church (Calais, Maine)

St. Anne's Episcopal Church is a historic church at 29 Church Street in Calais, Maine. Built in 1853, it is a locally distinctive example of Carpenter Gothic architecture, and is the only known statewide work of architect James Renwick, Jr. The church building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It is a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine; its pastor is the Rev. Sara Gavit.

Thomas J. D. Fuller

Thomas James Duncan Fuller (March 17, 1808 – February 13, 1876) was a United States Representative from Maine.


WQDY-FM, on air as Classic Hits 92.7 & 95.3, is an American radio station licensed to Calais, Maine. The station simulcasts on WALZ-FM Machias, Maine (95.3 FM). The station carries a classic hits format, with a heavy emphasis on local sports, including Boston Red Sox baseball. Previous to the station buying Top 40 WCRQ in 2003, which changed it's format to country in 2019, WQDY-FM was also carried on AM 1230 WQDY.

Washington County Community College

Washington County Community College (WCCC) is a community college located in Calais, Washington County, Maine. The college is situated on a hillside overlooking the St. Croix River Valley at the edge of a 400-acre (1.6 km2) campus of mature woods and fields.

WCCC is one of seven community colleges in the Maine Community College System. Founded in 1969, Washington County Community College (WCCC) offers associate degree programs in arts, sciences, and applied sciences, as well as diploma and certificates. In addition, the College offers business and job skills training courses and programs, personal enrichment classes, community services, and programs for high school students and seniors.

The Liberal Studies program offers students the opportunity to obtain their first two years of a baccalaureate credential at WCCC before transferring to another college or university. WCCC has a number of program articulation agreements with four-year institutions throughout the state to assist students to transfer upon meeting the necessary course requirements.

Washington Weekly magazine named WCCC the 24th best community college in America in 2013. The Aspen Institute named WCCC the 11th best community college in America in 2011.

Whitlocks Mill Light

The Whitlocks Mill Light is a lighthouse on the south bank of the St. Croix River in Calais, Maine. It is the northernmost lighthouse in the state of Maine, and was the last light to be built in the state.

Municipalities and communities of Washington County, Maine, United States
Largest towns


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