Introduction

This portion of the website focuses on the major routes of entry that had come into use by the time of the large French-Canadian and Acadian migrations between Maine, Québec, and New Brunswick in the late-1800s. It is meant to not only show the pathways into Maine, but also where additional information might be found in towns along the routes. If one knows from where travellers came and where they ended up, it is possible to figure out the most likely route they followed and the towns where information might be found.

Ironically, the accounts of migrants often do not tell the story of their migration, but just focus on their origins or what they accomplished after arriving at their destination. We hope to amend this focus a little bit. For now, we look for the most part at the larger roads, but there were also numerous small portages and trails between Maine, Québec, and New Brunswick. We include examples of some of these smaller routes.

Although we are accustomed to think of roads as avenues for colonisation, our view is usually in one direction-as a grandiose expression of the United States' manifest destiny. However, such a uni-directional way of thinking is a simplistic expression of the territorial imperative by a dominant culture. Agriculturists also used these roads to colonise both new rural areas and industrial centres. In short, the French settlers made the roads into two way streets. This website is also meant to provide profiles of some of this movement.

There was an overall program of road and canal development in eastern North America in the early 19th century. These projects included the National Road into Ohio (1818), the Erie Canal in New York (1825), the Craig Road through the Eastern Townships of Canada (1810), and the Chambly Canal on the Richelieu River in Lower Canada (1843). The construction of the various routes illustrated here were part of this wider development and allowed Maine to be connected into the larger network of North American transportation. The routes of this website are presented in a chronological order and include information about their location, background, history, towns, and migration:

The King's Highway
Lake Megantic Route
Coos Road
Canada Road
Aroostook Roads
Airline Road
Grand Trunk Railway
California Tote Road
Canadian Pacific Railway

All but the section on the Aroostook Roads follow the same general plan. The Aroostook road system is dealt with in greater detail, as an example of what we aspire to do with the other route descriptions. Although we have a great deal of information about the Canada Road, only a survey of this route is given here, as it is presently being developed into a book by Barry Rodrigue, who has spent the last several years researching its history. The story of the other routes are presented in a shorter fashion.
In order to appreciate the complexity of some of these routes, consider the case of the Redmond-Grenier family.

Most of the locations of the roads discussed in this section are just approximations. This generalized view is necessary because of the nature of road work. Surveyors would lay out a route, then construction crews would build it. The two processes did not always match, as builders would look for better routings once they got into the field. Then, over the years, further adjustments would be made. This might consist of re-routing large segments by the county or moving short stretches by local people. In this way, any given route can vary significantly today from when it was first laid out 200 years ago.

The only route that has been located with any precision is the Canada Road. Historical archeologist Alaric Faulkner and geographer Barry Rodrigue developed a computer model of the road, based on the original surveys, then determined later road alterations from the location of archeological sites along the 70 mile (113 kilometre) portion of the route in Maine. By the time the project is completed, they will have inventoried over 500 archaeological sites, which will amount to three years work just to generate the information for analysis of the Canada Road frontier. Needless to say, this time-consuming process has not been repeated for other routes. So, we would be grateful to anyone who could help us refine the location of the old roads discussed in this website and let us know how they have changed over the years. We would also like to know stories of travelers, find old photos, and learn of additional migration routes. We look forward to hearing from you.
My address is: Rodrigue@usm.maine.edu