Canadian Pacific Railway

  1. Location and Background
  2. History
  3. Migrations and Towns
  4. Travelers: Joseph Forgues and Obeline Lacroix

  1. Travelers: Joseph Forgues and Obeline Lacroix

Joseph Forgues and Obeline Lacroix
One of the consequences of the Canadian Pacific Railroad's building of the « Short Line » through Maine was the tremendous growth and expansion of the lumbering industry in the borderlands region between this part of Canada and the United States. For many French Canadians living in southeastern Québec, this expansion of economic opportunity was one of the many factors leading them to make, what had previously only been a seasonal migration, into a permanent immigration. One example of such a family was that of Joseph Forgues and Obeline Lacroix of St. Magloire, Bellechasse County, Québec.

Joseph and Obeline were married in 1897, but left their home after their farm burned and headed eastward to settle in Chesuncook, a thriving lumbering enclave on Chesuncook Lake, in the mountains of western Maine. We get a picture of this family, in 1906, through the eyes of Jackman's missionary priest, Montreal-born Father Joseph Forest. Father Forest had been stationed in Jackman and ministering to French Canadians and Irish Catholics along the Short Line from Lowelltown to Greenville, as well as in the lumber camps from Chesuncook to Caratunk. Father Forest's news would have been a strong inducement to come and settle in Jackman, at his parish of St. Antoine de Padoue. He had just completed arrangements to have the Missionary Jesuit Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyons, France, staff a new school that was just being completed in his parish. To many seasonal workers in the lumber camps that he visited during the winter months and who might have wanted to make their migration permanent, the knowledge of a new school staffed with French-speaking nuns certainly must have been something to think about. By the mid-1920's, Jackman's population grew to over 2000, with nearly 70% of them being French Canadian. There can be no doubt that this growth can be attributed to there being a « complete » parish in Jackman. By complete, I mean a French-speaking priest, a church, and a school staffed by French-speaking nuns. At the time of Father Forest's visit in Chesuncook, the Forgues's extended family included Joseph, Obeline, and their children, as well as Joseph's father Narcisse, his sister Camille, and her husband Joseph Nolet.

By 1912, Joseph Forgues and his extended family had moved south, along the Short Line to St. Antoine de Padoue in Jackman. At least this is year that Father Forest first listed the families of Forgues and Nolet in his annual visite de la paroisse. By this time, both had settled on the southern fringe of the parish. Joseph and Obeline had two children, one of which was Willie, who was born in Jackman in 1913. Over the years, Joseph worked in the booming lumbering economy of western Maine. He is also known as having worked for the parish, supplying stove wood in lieu of his yearly tithe, as well as being the first family visited by Father Forest during his yearly visit.

Gérard Forgue, University of Maine, Orono, 1998
(Photo by Barry Rodrigue).
Gérard Forgue; Maine Woods Petit Canada: Jackman's paroisse St. Antoine de Padoue, 1880-1930; Orono: M.A. Thesis, University of Maine, 1994.

Jackman Bicentennial Book Committee; The History of the Moose River Valley; Augusta: Kennebec Journal Printing, 1976, 116-30.

Others roads :
The King's Highway - Lake Megantic Route - Coos Road - Canada Road - Aroostook Roads - Airline Road
Grand Trunk Railway - California Tote Road - Canadian Pacific Railway