The main chocolate company doing business in St. Stephen, and the driving force behind the civic pride and presence of chocolate in the area is Ganong Brothers Chocolates. Founded way back in 1873 and in business continually in the St. Stephen area since then, they have a store that's right on the main street (TransCanada Route 1), as you pass through town. If you are heading south (back towards the US), it will be clearly marked on your right. There is plenty of street-side parking up and down the road. If I remember correctly, there were no parking meters.
This is an incredible chocolate store, so many items to choose from. In many ways, I could close my eyes and imagine myself to be in Belgium or Switzerland, at least until I heard someone say "Would you like to sample some chocolate, eh?"
There is a huge variety available for sale, including "by the piece, make up the box yourself" options along with varietal gift boxes and such. We took several boxes home with us, to distribute to friends and co-workers. And yes, we opened one box and finished it off before we even left Maine on our homeward flight.
If you visit their website below, you can order chocolates by mail, sign up for an email newsletter, and can learn all sorts of new reasons to love chocolate.
AS FOR THE CHOCOLATE DISCOVERY CENTER/MUSEUM, it's located right next door to Galong Chocolatiers. The Chocolate Museum, a not-for-profit organization operated by a Board of Directors, opened in June 1999, and has recently undergone a $900,000 expansion. The museum presents the story of brothers James and Gilbert Ganong, whose candy-making company built in the late 1800s continues today. The Museum offers hands-on exhibits, interactive computer displays that explain how chocolate and candies are currently made, collections of historic chocolate boxes and antique candy-making equipment. All in all, it gives you a few hundred more reasons to enjoy eating chocolate. :)
I am fully aware of the changes in US border crossings and security since 9/11. I've been in and out of the country dozens of times since then, and have noticed the increased security screenings and such. But still, I was a little surprised at how truly curt and zoned the guys were over at the US-Canada border. (at St. Stephens, NB - Calias, ME)
Picture this, we drive up - two 50+ year old Americans - with southern accents to boot - and their young daughter, all in a rented white Toyota Corolla, sporting Maine license plates. After exchanging good mornings and such, I was asked for documents, which we provided. The guy looks at me as if he's imagining me in a turban while reading a Quran. He asked me if we had any goods to declare, and I answered that we had less than $200 in total gifts/purchases. And, I also told him that we had 750 ml of regular wine and 750 ml of ice-wine included.
He freaks - he almost shouts and says "you're not allowed to bring in 1000 or more bottles of wine, sir". (I don't know where the hell he thought we were carrying it, we already had one of our suitcases in the back seat, due to the Corolla being a bit small) I very politely informed him that I'd said ml, not liters, and that in fact, we had less than 2 liters of any wine product and zero liters of hard liquor in our possession. Perhaps he was embarassed or chafed at being told such a basic fact. He immediately starts a series of rapid fire - I'm going to trip you up - questions..... What's your middle name, what's your wife's middle name, where were you born, where was your daughter born? One after the other, maybe 0.1 seconds between my answer and the next question.
Well, in spite of it being the "lightening round" in this little game, I got them all right and he proceeded to another round of (I thought) kind of silly followup questions. He'd already asked me what we'd been doing in Canada for two weeks, and I told him we were visiting the maritimes, just enjoying ourselves. He again asked me what we had been doing for TWO WHOLE WEEKS in Canada, were we "just driving around"? I told him that we were just doing tourist stuff - eating lobster, walking around and shopping, exploring the coasts, etc. I then told him that I had about 2000 digital images on my camera if he'd like to get a better look.
He finally, without taking his Green Mile stare from my face, waved us on through. Didn't even get the customary "welcome home". (I ALWAYS have gotten that comment in the past.)
Oh well, I guess security is important. From what I see on TV lately, maybe they need to get some of these guys from the St. Stephen crossing on down to the White House. I hear that the door is wide open to just about anyone at state dinners.
It might have just been "our day to be hassled more than usual", but I'll post this anyway. Be ready, the guards at St. Stephen - Calais seem to have a burr in their collective saddles. Be prepared.