The Aroostook Roads

  1. Location and Background
  2. Under the French and British Regimes
  3. The First Acadian and Canadian Immigrants
  4. The Development of Madawaska
  5. Borderland Tensions
  6. Military and Commercial Roads
  7. War Avoided
  8. New Immigrant Waves
  9. A Bi-Directional Route
  10. Sources

  1. The First Acadian and Canadian Immigrants
While today the Temiscouata Portage Road lays solely in present-day Canada, its history is the basis for comprehending the origins of the Aroostook Roads system that developed in Maine in the nineteenth century. When hostilities broke out between the British and French in 1754, British troops began the deportation of the entire Acadian population settled around the salt marshes of the Bay of Fundy in present-day Nova Scotia. The Acadians were placed on ships for deportation to England and the English colonies. But not all of the Acadians were captured. Among others, almost 4,000 eventually escaped to Canada - many by way of the Temiscouata Portage. In Canada they took refuge in the French seigneuries along the St. Lawrence River like that of Kamouraska and Bellechasse. By the time of the declaration of peace in 1763, many Acadian families had inter-married with Canadian families, while others attempted to go back to their ancestral homes. Those who returned, like their counterparts who were attempting to make the trek back from their exile in England and the English-American colonies, found their lands in Nova Scotia confiscated and given to British and loyalist colonists. The returning Acadians were often coldly received by the British authorities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The process of resettlement for the Acadians in Atlantic Canada was at times difficult because of legal restrictions against Catholics and ethnic tension. In 1785, a group composed of Acadians and Canadians from Ste-Anne-des-Pays-Bas (Frederiction, NB) and the Hammond River (near St John, NB) were attracted by the free homesteads the New Brunswick Government was giving away and settled at the confluence of the St John and Madawaska Rivers, creating the new community of "Madawaska." There they were joined by other Canadians coming south from the St. Lawrence Valley. As historian Béatrice Craig indicates, while the settlement of this area appears to be by two groups - one of Acadians and the other of Canadians - it was more like "a big family reunion." Many of the families in both groups were related by the strong kinship ties that had developed among them during the war years of Acadian exile in the St. Lawrence Valley.

One of the oldest photographs of a pioneer cabin in the Madawaska settlement sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Source: Madawaska Historical Society.

In 1815 and 1832 Joseph Bouchette, the Surveyor General of Lower Canada, published two separate works on the topography of Québec - then called Lower Canada. In them he describes the history and conditions of the Temiscouata Portage Road, and the development of the Madawaska settlement on the Canadian-American frontier.

Source: Joseph Bouchette, Description topographique de la province du Bas Canada, 1815.