Organizers of the fifth World Acadian Congress, scheduled for Aug. 8-24, 2014, in northern Maine, northwestern New Brunswick and the Temiscouata region of Quebec, hope to increase the number of family reunions from 80 in 2009 to more than 100.
The two weeks of this unique event, held previously in Louisiana and Canada, have brought in as many as 50,000 visitors. The Maine-New Brunswick-Quebec group, according to a June 6 story by BDN reporter Jen Lynds, will host the gathering as “Acadia of the Lands and Forests.”
Emilien Nadeau, president of the international organizing committee, put out the call for groups interested in hosting family reunions during the 2014 event near the Acadian Cross, the landmark in Madawaska-St. David where Acadians landed on the banks of the St. John River in 1785. Jason Parent is president of the Maine delegation, and Leo-Paul Charest is executive director for the 2014 WAC.
Families in the St. John Valley have been putting on large reunions for dozens of years at the same time as the Acadian Festival, formerly held in late June.
This year, the 34th Acadian Festival and the annual family reunion in Madawaska are being moved to Aug. 11-15 to coincide with International Acadian Day on Aug. 15. This year’s gathering is the Cyr Family Reunion, celebrating ancestors and descendants of one of the St. John Valley’s Acadian families. Some years the reunion honors a family with French-Canadian roots in Quebec.
Back to the Acadian Congress in 2014. The first round of applications for families, family associations, communities and others interested in hosting reunions in 2014 will continue through Nov. 1. WAC staff, assisted by the family reunion committee, will work to bring together any competing applicants for reunions of the same family name to encourage collaboration and the submission of a single proposal. Forms are available at www.cma2014.net and at branches of Norstate Credit Union in Maine.
The form asks reasons or connections for hosting the gathering at the proposed location; activities planned and infrastructure and equipment needed; historic, cultural or tourist aspects to be highlighted; number of people expected to attend; whether the group has organized a family gathering before and other comments and information.
The reunions will be part of the 300 events, which will include regional celebrations, sporting and cultural activities. In addition to families of Acadian descent, the organization welcomes applications from other families with lineage common in northern Maine, northwest New Brunswick and Quebec.
Once the first venues for 2014 family reunions are announced early next year, WAC will launch the second round of applications.
Host family reunion organizing committees selected will be provided with $500 in seed money to begin planning their event.
Informational sessions will be held in all three regions. In Maine, the session will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, at Norstate Credit Union in Madawaska.
Summer library hours are in effect at Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St., Bangor. They are: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays; closed Saturday and Sunday. Hours will be in effect until Tuesday, Sept. 6. For questions, contact the library at 947-8336 or visit the website at www.bpl.lib.me.us.
The Finnish Heritage House in South Thomaston will start the next session of Finnish language classes on Saturday, July 9. Classes will be held 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 3. After a five-week break, there will be a continuation of these classes from Oct. 15 to Dec. 5.
This year’s course, taught by Art Jura and assisted by Paula Szabo, both of Union, will be an experiment in utilizing all the updated digital resources now available in Jura Hall, downstairs in the Finnish Congregational Church on Route 131. Students will be exposed to both spoken and written Finnish with help from all the wonders of today’s Internet. They also will learn something of the history, culture, music and genealogy of the Finnish people.
Jura and Szabo belong to that vanishing breed of Americans who spoke Finnish as their first language.
Anyone wishing to register for the class may write to the Finnish Heritage House, PO Box 293, South Thomaston 04858. Even better, drop in any Saturday morning, on Route 131. The coffee pot is always on.
In Union, tickets are on sale for the annual Come Spring Bus Tour, sponsored by Union Historical Society on Founders Day, Saturday, July 16. This narrated two-hour bus tour departs from Union Common at 9:30 a.m. and follows the Georges River Scenic Byway, identifying sites where Union’s early settlers built cabins and lived.
The names of the settlers are documented in town records and their lives and stories are recounted by Ben Ames Williams in his 1940 historical novel, “Come Spring,” reprinted by the historical society. Participants will get off the bus to tour five historic sites, four of them on private property and not open to the public at other times.
After visiting settlers’ grave sites in the Common Cemetery on Ayer Hill, the tour will stop at the cellar hole of the cabin where Philip Robbins’ large family spent a crowded winter in 1776, and then at the homestead of Robbins’ oldest son, David. After a circuit over the blueberry barrens of Clarry Hill, participants will visit the site of the “Royal Mess,” the bachelor home of Jason Ware, Joel Adams and Matthias Hawes, overlooking the hillside where Adams and his wife Mima Robbins built their home. Finally, the tour will visit the Alden Store on Common Road, built close to the home of Ebenezer Alden in 1797 and run by the Alden family for 100 years.
Come Spring Bus Tour tickets are available in advance for $10 at the Robbins House, headquarters of Union Historical Society, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, or by calling 785-5444 and leaving a message.
Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or email queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.