for Ile Ste Croix Settlement
By Juliana L’Heureux
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Summer is a beautiful time to explore the history of Maines French
heritage. Thats one reason why a delegation of four people from
York County made the four and a half-hour drive to Calais, Maine and
St. Stephens, in New Brunswick Canada on June 26th last week to celebrate
398 years of French history in North America. Driving through the Milltown
boarder point crossing into St. Stephens, in New Brunswick, Canada,
we joined the Ile Ste Croix 2004 Coordinating Committees sunset
wine and cheese reception held on the lovely Canadian park overlooking
Ile Ste Croix (St. Croix Island). A new French wine was unveiled during
the reception ceremonies, which was free and open to the public. Sales
of the red and white imported wines bearing the Ile Ste Croix logo will
help fund projects commemorating the founding of Ile Ste Croix and the
French culture in North America.
June 26, 1604, is the date when French explorer Sieur de Monts and
his sailing crew of about 70 men landed on St. Croix Island, located
in the St. Croix River between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. Among
those adventuresome men were a Catholic priest and a Huguenot (Protestant)
minister. Together, they built the first planned settlement in New France.
We are seeing the island today, just as the first settlers viewed
it, said Jerome Collins, a retired psychiatrist from Kennebunkport
who attended the reception with his wife Monique. Still, this
is a seductive scene,said Collins, referring to the black flies
swarming around the well-dressed reception guests. Eventually, the Acadian
musicians hired to play live background music were forced to seek out
Monique, who thoughtfully brought a can of bug repellent spray to the
reception with her, in anticipation of the insect onslaught.
In 1604, the French adventurers found the St. Croix location beautiful.
The area was close of hunting and fishing, plus they thought the secluded
island was secure from English attacks. Although the settlement failed
when more than half the settlers died during the harsh winter of 1604-05,
their perseverance laid the foundation for later settlements in Port
Royal in Nova Scotia (1605) and in Quebec (1608).
French explorer Samuel Champlain, who helped de Monts to settle Ile
Ste Croix, explained the settlements difficulties in his journal.
"During this winter, all our liquors froze, except the Spanish
We were obliged to use very bad water, and drink melted snow,
as there were no springs nor brooks; for it was not possible to go to
the mainland in consequence of the great pieces of ice."
Because of Ile Ste Croix, the French proudly claim 17 years precedence
Pilgrims who arrived in 1620 at Plymouth Rock, Mass. This island
is like our Canadian Plymouth Rock, said Canadian House of Commons
representative Greg Thompson, representing New Brunswick in Parliament.
In fact, Thompson is introducing legislation in Ottawa to create an
Ile Ste Croix postage stamp and a day of National recognition for Samuel
In 2004, an international anniversary celebration will be hosted in
the Calais-St. Stephens region, intended to attract cultural tourism
to the area for the 400th anniversary of the French settlement. The
2004 party will celebrate the Premiere Nations who founded
Canada, New France and Maine. Those nations are France, Canada, Great
Britain, the United States and the original Native American Passamaquoddy
For more information about Ile Ste Croix, check out the Internet website
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Copyright 2003, Juliana L'Heureux