Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Madawaska

Location Map for Madawaska

Location Map for Madawaska

Year Population
1970 5,585
1980 5,282
1990 4,803
2000 4,534
2010 4,035
Madawaska Population Chart 1820-2010

Population Trend 1820-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 47:17:41
W. Latitude 68:15:01
Maine House District 150
Maine Senate District 1
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 56.5
Area sq. mi. (land) 55.7
Population/sq.mi. (land) 72.4
County: Aroostook

Total=land+water; Land=land only

Sign: Welcome to Madawaska[mad-ah-WAH-skah] in Aroostook County, is Maine’s northernmost town.

Home to native Micmac people, it was also settled in the 1750’s by Acadian exiles. A monument with a large cross marks the landing of the Acadians.

The town was named for the river whose Indian name has been interpreted to mean “having its outlet among the reeds” and “worn out grass (land).”

Several small stones, in front of recently planted trees, commemorate individual ancestors who were among the early arrivals.

Monument Marking the Acadian Landing Site (2003)

Acadian Landing Monument (2003)

Acadian Landing Site Cross (1970)

Acadian Landing Site Cross (1970) *

By 1787 a chapel reportedly held services in Madawaska and fifty-two settlers were given deeds to homesteads in 1790.

In 1817 several U.S. citizens settled near the confluence of the Meruimticook River (Baker Brook) and the St. John River, and one of this group was granted 100 acres of land in 1825.

Gary Campbell notes:

The Settlement extended from above Grand Falls along both sides of the St. John River for some distance above the Madawaska. In 1840, it had about 3,500 inhabitants. The final boundary, which ran through the center of the St. John River, split the settlement and families. Now, the post 9-11 security measures have made the once convenient border crossings much more difficult.

Main Street (2003)

Main Street (2003)

The Street to Edmunston, NB (2003)

Street to Edmunston, NB (’03)

Memorial to Early Acadians (2003)

Memorial to Early Acadians

Madawaska’s Maine Street is U.S. Route 1. It’s economy is dominated by the Fraser Paper Company, whose plant straddles the border with Edmunston, New Brunswick.

The international border crossing is, as a result, a busy one.

It was incorporated on March 15, 1831 as a huge town covering millions of acres of Maine and Canadian territory with the intent of asserting the State’s rights to the region.

The Madawaska settlement was an unfortunate victim of the Aroostook War. Sovereignty over the area remained in dispute since after the American Revolution, finally being resolved by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842.

Agriculture remains a significant portion of the economy of the St. John Valley in general and Madawaska in particular.

Most residents in this heavily Catholic community are fluent in French, and many have extended family members living in Canada.

Farmland in Madawaska (2003)

Farmland in Madawaska (2003)

Additional resources

Albert, Thomas. History of Madawaska: according to the historical researches of Patrick Therriault and the handwritten notes of Prudent L. Mercure. Quebec, Canada. Imprimerie Franciscaine Missionaire. 1920.

Albert, Thomas. The History of Madawaska. Madawaska, Me. Madawaska Historical Society. c1989.

Bond, C. Lawrence. Native Names of New England Towns and Villages.

Campbell, W. E. (William Edgar). The Aroostook War of 1839. Fredericton, N.B. Goose Lane Editions. c2013. p. 127.

Chadbourne, Ava Harriet. Maine Place Names and The Peopling of its Towns.

Chassé, Géraldine Pelletier. “Papa Town”: the life of Levite Eloi Rossignol: fifty years in the history of the town of Madawaska, Maine. Madawaska, Me. Valley Publishing Co. 1980.

Collins, Charles W. The Acadians of Madawaska, Maine. Boston: T. A. Whalen. 1902.

Deane, John G. 1785-1839. Report by John G. Deane and Edward Kavanagh: following a trip authorized by the state of Maine to make a record of settlement on public lands in the Madawaska territory. 1831.

Dubay, Guy F. Light on the Past: Documentation on our Acadian Heritage. Madawaska, Me. Town of Madawaska. 1995. (Caribou, Me. Rainbow Printing)

Dubay, Guy F. The Blessings of Faith. c1979.

Made in Madawaska: People – Paper – Progress, 1925-2000. Fraser Papers, Inc. Madawaska, Me. The Company. 2000?

Madoueskak, 1785-1985: a pictorial history, recapturing the past. Compiled by Cecile Dufour Pozzuto. 1985.

*Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me.   Text and photos from National Register of Historic Places: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/xxxxxxxx.PDF and http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/photos/xxxxxxxx.PDF

Acadian LandIng Site.: 73000098.PDF
St. David Catholic Church: 73000101.PDF
Martin, Isaie and Scholastique, House: 9001147.PDF

Maine. Legislature. Commission to Investigate Condition of Settlers in Madawaska Territory. [Augusta, Me. The Commission]. 1888. (Augusta [Me.]: Burleigh & Flynt)

Michaud, Guy R. Brève histoire du Madawaska: débuts à 1900. Edmundston, N.B. Éditions GRM. c1984.

Mulherin, Cecile Pelletier. The Seasons of My Life. Manchester, Ct. The Author. 1993. [University of Maine at Fort Kent, Acadian Reference, Library use only.]

Oxton, Beulah Sylvester. Major Dickey: Champion of the Madawaska. Lewiston, Me. Lewiston Journal. 1917. c1916.

Report of Commissioners appointed under resolve approved March 10, 1887, to investigate condition of settlers in Madawaska Territory. Augusta, Me. The Commission. 1888. (Augusta, Me. Burleigh & Flynt) Soucy, D. Wilfrid.

D. Wilfrid Soucy Collection. Ordained on 29 June 1930 at St-Louis church in Fort Kent, he served for six years at St-Hyacinth (Westbrook, Maine), then founded the parish at Sinclair, Maine which he served for 17 years. He was celebrated for his attempts to establish cooperative business ventures at Sinclair modeled upon those pioneered by Catholic priests in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

[Universuty of Maine, Fort Kent Acadian Archives]

Stewart, Ronald. Land of the Porcupine: Growing up in Madawaska. Yarmouth, Me. Salt Ponds Press. c2004.

Violette, Lawrence A., 1902-1952. How the Acadians Came to Maine. Madawaska, Me. 1952?

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Acadian Landing Site

[East of Madawaska on the St. John River off U.S. 1] Marked by the Acadian cross, this is perhaps the most important historical site in the St. John Valley. Settlement of the valley began here and the culture and language of the Acadian settlers prevail today. The site was, in 1970, at the foot of a large potato field about near U.S. Route 1 and a few hundred feet from the St. John River.

A cross was erected in 1922 at approximately where the original cross was erected in 1785. A wooden platform surrounding the cross was built in 1969 and was been used occasionally for religious services. Since then a new memorial with a cross [see above] replaced the earlier one. The Madawaska Historical Society building, which houses many artifacts of the early settlement, is nearby.*

St. David Catholic Church

[East of Madawaska on U.S. 1] St. Basil was the first parish in the Madawaska territory, founded in 1792. The church was on the north side of the St. John River in New Brunswick. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 established the Maine-New Brunswick boundary as the River.

American Madawaska, however, remained under the Bishops in the Maritime Provinces. They demanded separation for several reasons: the political division between the two countries, difficulty in crossing the River, the hope of getting a resident priest, and that St. Basil refused to give Maine officials statistics on American births, marriages and deaths. In 1864 the Americans petitioned Pope Pius IX for separation. In 1870 American Madawaska came under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Portland. St. David parish was founded in 1871; a wooden church and rectory were ready the next year.

The current St. David was completed in 1913, with influences from Renaissance and Baroque Italian architecture. It marked a departure from the early churches in the St. John Valley. As the population grew and people became more affluent, they replaced many 19th century wooden churches with larger brick and stone ones.*

Martin, Isaie and Scholastique, House

Martin House (2009)

Martin House (2009)

[137 Saint Catherine Street] The Martin House is a well preserved example of an Acadian log house built following traditional, regional techniques. Isaie Martin was the grandson of Francois Martin who, as an 11 year-old, was one of the Acadians deported from Port Royal in Nova Scotia in 1755. Francois and his family were among the first to settle in the St. John River Valley between the Madawaska and Green Rivers. [Christi A. Mitchell photo]

His sons and grandsons established farms along the St. John River in the 19th century. The Martin House, in what would become Maine after 1842, is composed of two joined log structures, the earlier of which was probably built between 1823 and 1844. The house features piece sur piece1 log construction with a clapboarded and a wrap-around porch. The interior has some unusual, probably regional, woodworking details and a type of root cellar once commonly found in Acadian homes. Generally the house retains integrity to the period of construction, c. 1823 to c. 1860.*

1heavy rectangular-hewn timbers. Each timber, laid horizontally, a dovetail notch at both ends forming a strong interlocking rigid joint with another appropriately notched timber at right angles to it.





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6 Responses to Madawaska

  1. Margaret Pelletier says:

    Where can I purchase a copy of the book The Seasons of My Life, by Cecile (Pelletier) Mullherin, 1993?

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