Favorite Places in Maine: St. John Valley

Posted May 11, 2011, at 10:32 p.m.
An Acadian flag flies near the granite Acadian Cross on the southern bank of the St. John River in Madawaska.
An Acadian flag flies near the granite Acadian Cross on the southern bank of the St. John River in Madawaska.

The summer of 1972, it was a miraculous thing to ride along Route 1 with my fiance, knowing that the same sun that warmed us also was shining on that other country out the window — Canada.

From Fort Kent to Van Buren, and back again, the St. John Valley was lush with all things green and a river big enough for two nations.

Like their neighbors in that bit of New Brunswick across the way, my future family spoke French, so much and so quickly that I knew I wasn’t in Kansas, Toto.

Sometimes we drove in a loop — over to Fort Kent, across the river to Clair, down to Edmundston, across to Madawaska and home to Frenchville.

A few years later, once we’d started our own family and brought our children to St. Luce to be baptized, the view was as much history as hills.

Across the road from the church in Frenchville, the land would forever be, in my mind, divided into the narrow plots that allowed many farmers access to the river — among them the 19th century Sauciers.

Last summer, the Saucier siblings and most of their grandchildren returned to the Valley for a few days.

Some of us made pilgrimages to a farm in Les Concessions in St. Agathe, to the graveyard in Frenchville, to the Acadian Cross on the river at St. David where the Acadians settled after being evicted from what is now Nova Scotia by the English in 1755.

Especially in summer, the road along the St. John Valley seems like the top of the world.

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