Dorchester, New Brunswick

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The old Bell Inn in Dorchester, New Brunswick was an inn between 1820 and 1860.
The old Bell Inn in Dorchester, New Brunswick was an inn between 1820 and 1860.
Dorchester is located in New Brunswick
Location of Dorchester, New Brunswick
Coordinates: 45°54′5.6″N 64°30′57.9″W / 45.901556°N 64.516083°W / 45.901556; -64.516083Coordinates: 45°54′5.6″N 64°30′57.9″W / 45.901556°N 64.516083°W / 45.901556; -64.516083
ProvinceNew Brunswick
ParishDorchester Parish
 • TypeVillage council
 • MayorJerome Bear
 • Deputy MayorRobert Hickman
 • Land5.79 km2 (2.24 sq mi)
 • Total1,096
 • Density189.3/km2 (490/sq mi)
 • Change
Decrease 6.1%
Time zoneUTC-4 (Atlantic)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-3 (Atlantic)
Area codeArea code 506

Dorchester is a village and shire town in Westmorland County, New Brunswick, Canada. It is named for Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester, an 18th-century Governor-General of the old Province of Quebec.

It is located on the eastern side of the mouth of the lush Memramcook River valley near the river's discharge point into Shepody Bay. Dorchester is an English-speaking community but it is adjacent to French-speaking Acadian areas farther up the Memramcook River valley.


The village's main employer today is the Correctional Service of Canada, which operates a prison complex now comprising the medium-security (once maximum-security) Dorchester Penitentiary, and the minimum-security Westmorland Institution.

Many residents commute to work in the nearby towns of Sackville and Amherst or the cities of Moncton and Dieppe.

A recent influx of residents is creating a new demand for Dorchester.

Tourism is centred on the historic and natural features of the area. One of Dorchester's most historic buildings houses the Keillor House Museum. The annual shorebird migration to the mud flats of nearby Johnson's Mills is celebrated by an oversize model of a semi-palmated sandpiper situated in the village square.

Another newer Tourist attraction is the conversion of the Dorchester Jail to a successful Bed and Breakfast where you can spend a night in a real Jail cell. Opened in 2017, it’s one of the Maritimes highest rated adventure Airbnb’s listed. It’s the sight of the last double hanging in New Brunswick, where the Bannister brothers were hanged and buried at the Jail.

We also have an updated year round take out / eat in. We have a local bakery in the square as well. We have a hairdresser / stylist as well as a fabric business all in the downtown. Our Library hours can be accessed online.


Although situated on the CN Rail main line between Halifax and Montreal, Dorchester no longer has a passenger station, with travellers having to entrain/detrain in Sackville or Moncton. The nearest airport is the Greater Moncton International Airport, a 40 km drive in Dieppe.


The shire town of the county, Dorchester has several fine historic homes and civic buildings most of which were built by local lawyer and Master Builder, John Francis Teed. During the 19th century, Dorchester and neighbouring Dorchester Island were important shipbuilding centres. Numerous master mariners also lived in Dorchester and vicinity during the Golden Age of Sail. Prior to rail service, it was a centre for the stagecoach, as well as a busy ship port. The community was transformed with the construction in 1872 of the Intercolonial Railway between Halifax and Rivière-du-Loup. In 1911, the village founded the Dorchester Light and Fire Company which is now known as the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Department. In 1965, the village courthouse was destroyed by arson. Many in the community came to the town square to watch the building burn. The only thing left of the courthouse was the safe. It is now used in the village hall where the courthouse once stood. The courthouse was never rebuilt, and much of the economy behind it left the community.

Dorchester was home to Edward Barron Chandler, a father of confederation and his family who built their home, Chandler House, commonly referred to as Rocklynn which is now a nationally recognized historic property.

Premier Louis Robichaud's government during the 1960s created an industrial park and deepwater loading pier at nearby Dorchester Cape as part of a regional economic development program. Envisioned to be used by the petro-chemical industry, the government constructed a new road and railway spur along with an electrical substation and the pier as well as a building that was envisioned to be used as a fertilizer plant. The industrial park had no tenants and the pier sitting in the Memramcook River was quickly silted in by mud from the tides of the Bay of Fundy. Today all that remains are the roads and the railbed as well as some broken street lights, a deteriorating sea wall and the empty shell of the abandoned fertilizer plant.[citation needed]

In 1998, the Dorchester Jail was also closed. It is currently a fitness gym and a bed and breakfast.


In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Dorchester had a population of 906 living in 207 of its 221 total private dwellings, a change of -17.3% from its 2016 population of 1,096. With a land area of 5.71 km2 (2.20 sq mi), it had a population density of 158.7/km2 (411.0/sq mi) in 2021.[2]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Dorchester appears fictionalized in Douglas How's humorous book Blow Up the Trumpet in the New Moon (1993).
  • The song Dorchester by Matt Minglewood is about the Dorchester Penitentiary.
  • Dorchester is home to the world's largest sandpiper.
  • The Bell Inn Restaurant is one of New Brunswick's oldest surviving stone buildings, built sometime between 1811 and 1821.[7] It is also in the book of Where To Eat In Canada.

The Dorchester Jail was the location of the last double hanging in New Brunswick, September 1936

Bordering communities[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Census Profile, 2016 Census Dorchester, Village [Census subdivision], New Brunswick". Statistics Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  2. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions (municipalities), New Brunswick". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  3. ^ Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
  4. ^ "2011 Census Profile: Dorchester, New Brunswick". Statistics Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  5. ^ [1] CWGC Casualty record.
  6. ^ "Antigonish and its Architects and Builders". Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Bell Inn". Parks Canada. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  • One Village, One War, 1914-1945: A Thinking About the Literature of Stone, by Douglas Howe, Hantsport: Lancelot Press (1995). The story of Dorchester residents who served Canada in World Wars I and II.
  • Dorchester Island and Related Areas, by Reginald B. Bowser, 1986.

External links[edit]