The Heart of New England
Maine's Acadian Culture
(or "La Culture Acadienne du
Maine")


As you approach the farthest reaches of northern Maine, don't be concerned when
you notice business people speaking French with their customers or signs
written in both French and English. You haven't accidentally crossed the border
into Quebec: You've entered the Acadian communities of the St. John River
Valley.

Maine's Acadians are descended from French ancestors who in the 1600s settled
along the coast of Nova Scotia -- then known as Acadia.  In the years before the
American Revolution, both France and England held a claim to this area, and in
1755 the English deported thousands of French settlers.  While many were
shipped directly to the British Colonies, others fled in search of homelands where
they could maintain their Acadian identity.

Some of those who fled settled in Louisiana, the ancestors of today's Cajuns.  
Others traveled to Quebec.  During the 1780s a small group of Acadian families
settled along the St. John River in Maine.

Acadian Culture Thrives in Maine

More than 200 years later, Acadian culture and traditions continue to thrive along
the river and in the "back settlements" of the St. John Valley.  Throughout the
region you'll hear people young and old speaking Valley French -- a mixture of
traditional French and English with some Quebecois phrases added.  

Traditional arts and folkways ranging from woodcarving to snowshoe making,
rug weaving, gardening, singing, and fiddling are passed down from generation
to generation.  Throughout the Valley, Acadians share religious traditions,
connections with the river and the land, and knowledge of the deportation story
of their ancestors.

Each summer, the Acadian Festival celebrates this rich heritage and culture of the
St. John Valley. If your visit doesn't coincide with the festival, though, watch for
numerous Acadian sites including historic churches, museums, and traditional
buildings along US Route 1.  

To learn more, contact the Maine Acadian Heritage Council at 207-728-6826.

This article is excerpted, with permission, from the book,
Handmade in the
Northern Forest.
 For book ordering information, visit
www.HandmadeInTheNorthernForest.org.

See Also: "Acadian Heritage, Preserved"
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
The MORNEAULT House at the Acadian Village
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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