St. John Valley

Local Acadian film to air on Maine PBS

STOCKHOLM, Maine — What do a 95-year-old snowshoe maker and a 5-year-old French student have in common? In the St. John Valley of far northern Maine, they are both practicing Acadian traditions that can be traced back to 1785.

Edmond Theriault makes snowshoes with his grandson. (Courtesy of Brenda Jepson)

“It is fascinating to discover how many of these customs have survived the centuries,” said film producer Brenda Jepson, whose hour-long documentary, “Acadian Traditions,” will air on Maine Public Broadcasting on Thursday, April 26, and Saturday, April 28.

Jepson, and her husband, Alan, captured this history as year-round residents of Madawaska Lake, sited near the edge of the St. John Valley.

Refugees fled to The Valley from Nova Scotia by canoe more than 230 years ago to make a new life for themselves in a harsh new climate even colder than Acadia, a settlement their French ancestors had started in the 1640’s.

These Acadian refugees, who had been routed by the British, brought with them many traditions – faith, food, French and devotion to family, as well as customs taught to them by the Native Americans.

“We spent three years during the four seasons documenting folks from all corners of The Valley engaged in a variety of activities — from snowshoe making to maple sap tapping, and from children learning French to ployes making.” said Jepson.

Dr Francoise Paradis, a native of Frenchville, who now has a practice in southern Maine, conducted many of the interviews, and Beurmond Banville, a retired Bangor Daily News Reporter in St. Agatha, narrated the film.

At a showing of the film in St. Agatha in January, there was standing room only as many audience members watched “Acadian Traditions” for the first time.

“I thought it was so well done,” said Terry Ouellette, president of the St. Agatha Historical Society.  “They picture the past and they blend it into the future so that especially young children watching it can make the connection. You had old people, you had young people and it never dragged at any point – it kept moving.”

“Acadian Traditions” was produced by Crown Of Maine Productions, Stockholm.

Acadian Traditions – Snowshoe Making from Crown Of Maine Productions on Vimeo.

What Folks Think About “Acadian Traditions” from Crown Of Maine Productions on Vimeo.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.