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. Borderland Tensions
The Treaty of Versailles (1783) which ended the American Revolutionary War had been geographically vague about the precise boundaries in the northeast between the new American republic and the colonies of British North America. For the early Acadian and Canadian settlers in the relatively isolated region of Madawaska, political boundaries had little meaning. But beginning around 1810 the unquenchable British need for timber during the Napoleonic Wars led New Brunswick timber interests into the thick Madawaska forest. Maine timber merchants in Bangor jealously watched as Madawaska timber was cut and shipped towards mills in Fredericton and St. John, New Brunswick. Tensions over the precise location of the border began to arise as Bangor timber merchants complained to the state legislature that the wealth of northern Maine was floating down the St. John river into British hands. Such jealousy was quite natural, for at the time timber played a large role in the economy of the region. Between 1830 and 1855 Maine lumber mills on the Penobscot River processed an incredible three billion feet of lumber, while up to three-quarters of New Brunswick's export revenue came from wood products. As historian Barry Rodrigue writes, "An economy of scale became an economy of contention as large concerns from [both] Bangor and St. John entered the rich western Aroostook timberlands, which contained one of the last stands of virgin white pine in the Northeast."

A timber drive in the St. John Valley in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.

Source: Acadian Archives, University of Maine at Fort Kent.