Acadian pioneers, French Canadians, the Irish, the Scottish and English Loyalists have all contributed to the development of this community since the 19th century. In 1686, Monsignor de Saint-Vallier, second Bishop of Quebec, was the first to mention Grand Falls in his writings. A commemorative monument was erected in 1986 at the entrance to Davis Park.
In 1791, Thomas Carleton, first Governor of New Brunswick, had a military post built, which was named after him. Known as Colebrooke until 1890, the town was next named Grand Falls because of its great falls.
The native name given to Grand Falls was Chicanekapeag, meaning giant destroyer. Here, the Saint John river ceases to be the natural border between the United States and Canada.