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 Development of Madawaska
While only a few hundred in number, this was the colonisation and establishment of one of the oldest permanent Acadian and Canadian settlements in Maine. Between 1790 and 1825 the population of Madawaska grew from 174 to 1,100 adults - mainly involved in seasonally cutting timber and establishing farms in the fertile bottom lands of the river valley. In a trip to the area around 1814, the Canadian surveyor Joseph Bouchette visited Madawaska and reported that the village extended on both sides of the St. John River for an interval of nearly twenty-five miles and was peopled by nearly two hundred Canadian and Acadian families. The houses there were well-built, he reports, and there also existed a church and a mill for grinding grain. Between 1785 and 1814 the upper St. John River Valley was still a relatively unexplored region that was effectively controlled by British authorities in New Brunswick. At the time, neither Bouchette nor any of the inhabitants of this area knew specifically where the Madawaska settlement stood in relation to the Canadian-American border, but the area was generally believed to be a part of New Brunswick. Such territorial control by the British was mainly a result of the line of communication the Temiscouata Portage Road provided between Madawaska and Fredericton - the capital of New Brunswick on the lower St. John River. Not until nearly sixty years, under the threat of war, would the Canadian-American boundary be firmly established along the middle of the St. John River - effectively dividing one settlement into two communities, one in Maine and the other in New Brunswick.

Houses in the borderlands area of Madawaska in 1870 showing the influence of Canadian architectural styles on the left, and American styles on the right.

Source: Madawaska Historical Society.