The state of Maine plunges deeply into the heart of French Canada. Indeed if the 45th degree line of latitude separating Vermont from Québec were continued eastward, roughly two-thirds of the territory of Maine would lie north of the line. Maine's ancient Acadian roots are frequently forgotten and its more recent intimate exchanges with Québec often ignored. In 1604, Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec City four years later, ran aground on an island which he named Mount Desert, in Maine's Acadia National Park, because of the bare mountain peaks which he observed. The most famous of the seven peaks came to be known as Mount Cadillac in honor of Sieur Antonine de la Mothe Cadillac, another early French explorer.
In the course of his naval campaign of the summer of 1696, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville visited the Acadian settlements of Pentagoet (today Castine, Maine) and Fort Pemaquid (today Pemequid).

What began as a trickle of French speaking immigrants from the Provinces of Québec and New Brunswick at the time of statehood for Maine in 1820, became a torrent during the last half of the nineteenth century and the first third of the twentieth. Many found economic opportunities initially in the construction and development of the new state's burgeoning cities or later in its vast forests and growing textile industries.

Pierre Lemoyne d'Iberville

The agricultural lands on either side of the St. John River attracted French Canadian immigrants from the Lower St. Lawrence region of Québec and exiled Acadians from the lower St. John. As a result of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 which put an end to the boundary dispute beween Canada and the United States, this community was split down the middle. Those on the right bank were to be American, those on the left Canadian.


According to the 1990 Census of the United States, of the roughly one million citizens of the state of Maine over the age of five, 336,000, or about one-third, are of French, French Canadian or Acadian origin. Of that number, approximately 80,000 use the French language on a daily basis. The intensity of this use and the vitality of the language varies greatly depending upon proximity to French Canada, community size, degree of urbanization and a host of other factors. In the first section of this website, entitled Today's Population, maps illustrate the distribution of Maine's French communities and provide insight into the vitality of the language and culture of each.

The second section, Historic Roadways, hearkens back to the historical processes which gave rise to these communities and identifies and locates the principal routes which have brought them into being. Examples of early immigrants who used these routes are provided.

The important third section of the website provides access to recent unpublished studies on Maine's French communities. These consist primarily of undergraduate or graduate theses which, if not provided here, might go unseen and unread. The webmaster would be pleased to receive and diffuse other such studies.
The website can be summarized as follows :
Today's Population

Using three variables (French spoken at home, French ethnic origin and French language vitality as expressed as the ratio between the two), this contemporary section locates Maine's French speaking and French ancestry populations at different geographic scales.


Historic roadways

The historical section illustrates the principal roadways which facilitated the passage from Québec and New Brunswick into Maine: The King's Highway, Lake Megantic Route, Coos Road, Canada Road, Aroostook Roads, Airline Road, Grand Trunk Railway, California Tote Road, Canadian Pacific Railway.


Recent unpublished research

This section provides access to recent unpublished work on Maine's French facts. It consists primary of research conducted by undergraduate and graduate students. Contributions to this section are welcome.