Living

New St. John Valley film showcases Acadian traditions

After three years in production, a company has released a new hour-long documentary about Acadians preserving their traditions in the St. John Valley.

“Acadian Traditions,” which Crown Of Maine Productions based at Madawaska Lake produced, includes folks from all corners of The Valley engaged in a variety of activities — from snow shoe making to maple sap tapping, and from children learning French to ploye making.

“It was fascinating to see how much Acadian heritage still exists in The Valley today,” said filmmaker, Brenda Jepson, a volunteer producer for Maine Public TV since 1983.

“These customs come in many forms — food, music, language, arts, crafts and community ventures, and it was so interesting to see how they have evolved and have been preserved over more than two centuries.”

Edmond Theriault and his grandson, Jordan, learning the family tradition of making snowshoes at Eagle lake. (Courtesy of Brenda Jepson)

The British deported the Acadians, who once had a thriving community known as Acadia in what is now Nova Scotia, on board ships in 1755.

But others fled to the woods and made their way to Northern Maine. Some settled in the St. John Valley in 1785.

“Their distinct culture, founded on faith, family, food and French has been their bedrock,” says Jepson, who has made films about the Acadians since 2002.

“And their strong sense of community has helped them survive challenging struggles —  from the black famine of 1797 to the decimated wheat harvest of the 1830s which led to increased production of buckwheat and the proliferation of ployes.”

These character traits are evident in the 21st century with community efforts such as Angel Snowfest and the Tour De La Vallée, which the film features.

“Acadian Traditions” follows Valley activities through the four seasons of the year, and former Bangor Daily News reporter, Beurmond Banville narrates the documentary.

Copies of the DVD are available in County stores and at crownofmaineproductions.com

One-minute preview of “Acadian Traditions”: https://vimeo.com/245665483

One-minute segment on maple syrup making: https://vimeo.com/214332670

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