France to honor Beliveau
on May 13, 2008
By Juliana L’Heureux
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tour of Severin Beliveau's legal office in Augusta is a Franco-American's
historic treat. His family's Franco-American history is easily viewed
among the pictures and framed archived documents hanging close to his
professional work, handsomely decorating the bright walls of his busy
A photograph of his Franco-American father, Judge Albert Beliveau,
born in 1887, is particularly interesting. "These photographs remind
me of my ancestral roots as a French speaking Franco-American,"
he said during the tour. "My father taught me to believe that you
can never deny your roots and your heritage."
On March 2, 1992, Belliveau was appointed the honorary French consular
agent for Maine. His support for Franco-American and French heritage
in Maine and New England will be honored by France, with the presentation
of the premier order of The Legion of Honor (Legion d'Honneur), at ceremonies
scheduled at the State House on May 13 in Augusta.
"I feel very humble about receiving this honor," said Beliveau.
"It's actually a tribute to my French heritage, going back to 1636
when my family arrived in Acadia. In 1671, my Acadian ancestor Jean-Antoine
Beliveau married Jeanne Bourg in Port Royal," he said.
Actually, the Beliveau name has French-Acadian origins, before the
family became Quebecois, as a result of le Grand Derangement (the displacement).
In the middle 1600s, his ancestors sailed from Poitou in France, to
Port Royal in Acadia (Nova Scotia). Beliveau's Acadian ancestral family
was displaced by le Grand Derangement during the conflagrations of 1755,
when they evaded the British expulsion of Acadians and fled to the Province
of Quebec. In 1772, genealogy records show that Joseph Beliveau married
Rosalie Richard in Quebec. The family later moved to Nicolet, then to
In the late 1800s, the family came to Lewiston, like so many other
Quebecois, where the attraction of finding work among the growing textile
mills provided economic security. They later moved to Rumford, where
Beliveau was born.
Beliveau's legal career followed in the prestigious footsteps of other
lawyers and judges in his family. In 1935, his father, Albert J. Beliveau
Sr., was appointed the first Franco-American to Maine's Superior Court.
In 1954, he was the first Franco-American appointed to Maine's Supreme
Judicial Court. "It was when discrimination against French-Canadians
and Franco-Americans was very high. My father was their advocate,"
Beliveau's Irish grandfather, Matthew McCarthy, was the first municipal
court judge in Rumford.
Consul General of France in Boston, Franois Gauthier recognizes Beliveau's
lifetime of support for the French language and culture in Maine.
"The Legion of Honor is pleased to recognize Sverin Bliveau as
a tremendous representative of our country's French heritage in North
America," he said.
"He is a successful lawyer and businessman who is the head of
the 'Forum Francophone des Affaires' in Maine. Severin is a decisive
leader in some key projects for improving the relationship between the
Pine Tree State and France, such as the governor's successful trade
mission to France in October 2005. He is a proud member of the Franco-American
community in Maine and New England. His family ties to France are very
meaningful to him. We are grateful that he has put his talents to the
service of Franco-Americans and France."
The Legion of Honor was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte to
recognize and pay tribute to people who demonstrate outstanding military
and civilian service to the people of France.
Beliveau and his wife Cynthia and four sons live in Hallowell.
Published in the May 1, 2008, Portland Press Herald, Neighbors Edition
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Copyright © 2007, Portland Press Herald, Portland,
Maine and Juliana L'Heureux