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. New Immigrant Waves
The change in sovereignty for the southern side of the St. John River had no significant impact on immigration to the Madawaska and larger Aroostook area of Maine. By 1800 Acadian immigration had come to a virtual end, but Canadian immigration from the parishes along the St. Lawrence River into the area continued in ever increasing numbers until the mid-century when virtually all of the good "bottom" land along the St. John River and its tributaries had been taken, and most of the timber in the higher elevations of the valley had been stripped. Through natural increase and immigration, by 1850 the Franco-American population of the Madawaska area had reached nearly 6,000 persons, with only a small number of non-French inhabitants who had come from other areas of Maine and New England.

A ferry serving as the connection for travelers between the old Temiscouata Portage Road in St. Basile, New Brunswick and the Aroostook Road system at St. David, Maine, at the turn of the twentieth century.

Source: Madawaska Historical Society.

Historians like Béatrice Craig have shown that the peopling of the Madawaska area by Acadians and Canadians was an early example of the development of a permanent Franco-American presence in Maine, who reached the area by way of the Temiscouata and Aroostook Roads system. By the 1840s available land for new farms in Madawaska had been significantly curbed, and no longer enticed significant numbers of immigrants. Madawaska was not, however, the only community where the development of demographic pressure on good available land was increasing and causing a general outmigration of landless sons and daughters looking for other employment opportunities. Throughout the Northeast, in the French-Canadian communities of the St. Lawrence Valley, on the farms of Atlantic Canada and in the Yankee townships of New England the same dynamic was being played out. In the nineteenth century nearly 700,000 New Englanders would eventually go west looking for new lands to farm on the American frontier, hundreds of thousands of Atlantic Canadians would leave for better land on the American and Canadian frontiers, to cut timber in the woods of Maine, and to work in the industrial towns of New England. And, almost 900,000 French-Canadians would emigrate to the United States - a large percentage coming to Maine and southern New England for employment in the growing mill towns. In this changing socio-economic milieu in the Northeastern Borderlands, the Temiscouata-Aroostook Roads system now played the role of a long-distance "pathway" providing a direct route for immigrants from the St. Lawrence Valley to Bangor and on to central and southern Maine and New England.

In a Canadian-Acadian community along the Aroostook Roads system in St. David, Maine, c. 1912.

Source: Madawaska Historical Society.