St. Martins was settled in 1783 by a detachment of the King’s Orange Rangers– Loyalist soldiers from Orange and Duchess Counties, New York. The detachment had been posted to garrison duty in Nova Scotia at the end of hostilities in the American Revolution of 1776.
The original name of the community was “Quaco”, the origin of which is unclear. At least three plausible theories exist. The area west of the village is still named West Quaco.
St. Martins was the second largest producer of wooden sailing vessels in New Brunswick and the third largest in the Maritimes.
The Beau Monde was built by the Moran shipbuilding family
Between 1803 and 1900 over 500 vessels were built and launched in over a dozen shipyards along the beaches, coves and rivers in and around St. Martins. Lumbering was also an important industry locally and a great deal of it was required to construct vessels of the size turned out by local shipyards.
Contemporary St. Martins is less populous than during its shipbuilding heyday of the 19th century. However, the village has retained much of its 19th century character. The vessels built here sailed all over the world and brought back ideas and architectural designs which the Captains, wealthy shipbuilders and mariners applied to the construction of their own homes. Those who could afford it (and there were many), brought artisans from abroad who painted wall and ceiling murals in their homes. At the height of the shipbuilding era St. Martins was often referred to as “the richest village in the British Empire”.