Woodstock is a Canadian town in Carleton County, New Brunswick located on the west bank of the Saint John River at the mouth of the Meduxnekeag River, 92 km north west of Fredericton and close to the Canada–United States border and Houlton, Maine.
Woodstock was settled by Loyalists following the American War of Independence. It was named for Woodstock Parish, established in 1786, which in turn was named for William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland and Viscount Woodstock, who was briefly British Prime Minister in 1783.
The upper limit of Loyalist grants on the river fell to members of Colonel DeLancey’s 1st Battalion New Jersey Volunteers, and the members that accepted the land moved there early in the summer of 1784. Three small settlements were formed in this new area named Woodstock and they were: the Upper Corner; the Creek Village; and Lower Woodstock.
When Carleton County first came into being in 1832, Upper Woodstock was made the shiretown due to the influence of Colonel Richard Ketchum who donated land for construction of public buildings. The Old Carleton County Court House is now an historic site, having been restored under the Carleton County Historical Society. However, after a bridge was built across the Meduxnekeag River, there was rapid growth of the Creek Village and this resulted in its being chosen as the Town of Woodstock.
Woodstock, incorporated in 1856, is the oldest incorporated town in New Brunswick. The first mayor was L.P. Fisher, who held office until his voluntary retirement some 24 years later. Being a great benefactor, he made provisions in his will for the building of several educational institutions, among them the first Agricultural and Vocational School in Canada, and the L. P. Fisher Public Library.
The headquarters for the New Brunswick Railway were here from 1870 until it ceased functioning.
Charles Connell (1810 – June 28, 1873) was a Canadian politician from Woodstock, now remembered mainly for placing his image on a 5-cent postage stamp. His house, known as the Charles Connell House is now a museum run by the Carleton County Historical Society.
Another important landmark of Woodstock from as early as the 40s and 50s was the Capital Theatre which was run by one-time Woodstock mayor Edgar Neal. It was located on Queen Street which is now known as Capital Square, home of a residence area for community college students. When the theatre was first opened, someone had to be paid to play the piano during the silent films. It was also used for boxing matches and magic shows among many other things.
The first dam at the mouth of the Meduxnekeag River was built in 1886, and activated on December 1, 1886. It provided electric power for the town; inviting the beginning of industrial activity that included tanneries, carriage factories, a wool mill, sawmills and gristmills, two foundries producing stoves; furnaces and agricultural machinery, etc. Others followed.
The last one, the Hayden dam and its powerhouse was destroyed by an unusually high spring freshet, exacerbating the spring flood of May 1, 1923, which also washed out the bridge that crossed the Meduxnekeag.
Another unusually high spring freshet on April 1, 1987 resulted in major damage to the Canadian Pacific Railway's trackage and a railway bridge in Upper Woodstock lost two spans. This hastened CPR's decision to abandon rail service to the area. Today the former railway right-of-way is one of Woodstock's walking trails.
On October 22, 1966, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra made its debut in Woodstock.
A campus of the New Brunswick Community College is located here. Woodstock is also home to the Woodstock Airport, a small public airport located in Grafton. This small community overlooks the St. John River, allowing people to get a view of Woodstock.
In 1995 the Town of Woodstock opened the Carleton Civic Centre. The multipurpose complexes houses 25 metre indoor pool, an 846 seat arena, a fitness centre, and community meeting rooms. The Woodstock Slammers of the Maritime Junior Hockey League play at the Civic Centre.
In 2009, the River Valley Arts Alliance (RiVA) began hosting the Dooryard Arts Festival in downtown Woodstock. It has now been held in August of every summer since and is currently planning the 5th Annual Dooryard Arts Festival for 2013.