The cataract from which the town's name originates was the site of overnight encampments from the time of the MALISEET. Grand Falls had a brief stint as a military post at the time of the boundary dispute with the United States. The initial surge of settlement, however, came through the entrepreneurial efforts of Sir John Caldwell, who brought settlers in to run his around-the-clock sawmill operation in the late 1830s. The surrounding area was settled by farmers in the ensuing decades, and with the completion of railway links in the 1870s, the town began a period as a tourist and resort attraction in the vein of Niagara Falls. In the 1920s a dam and electrical generating station changed the effect of the falls and it lost its tourist appeal.
Grand Falls's post-World War II prosperity has depended almost entirely on potato production and export. The town and surrounding area has a long history of close ties to communities on the American side of the border and a population mix of French, Irish and Danes.
Author FRED FARRELL
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