Articles by Kathryn Olmstead

Dorothy Peterson in 1935

Stately pine on elderly woman’s mind before she died

By Kathryn Olmstead on May 21, 2015, at 11:47 a.m.
I had just packed the last load of stuff into the car before a 10-day trip near the end of April when the phone rang. “Are you the lady who writes for the newspaper?” the caller asked. Our chat was animated, but brief, full of facts and family history. She …
Lisa Lavoie of Fort Kent researched the effects of U.S. government responses to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the border crossing in her hometown.

French, family connections endure in Valley despite changes at border crossing

By Kathryn Olmstead on May 07, 2015, at 2:14 p.m.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau once said that living next to the United States is like sleeping with an elephant. Fort Kent native Lisa Lavoie, after completing a master’s thesis on her borderland community, concluded that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, woke up the elephant. “Since …
Author Patricia T. O’Conner offers great tips on word usage in her book “Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English.”

Language nerds aren’t necessarily grammar snobs

By Kathryn Olmstead on April 09, 2015, at 12:35 p.m.
Oh, no! After reading my last column on grammar and usage, a dear friend said she worried about speaking correctly in my presence. I love language, but not at the expense of friendship. I might be a language nerd, but I hope I’m not a language snob. And spoken errors …
Francine Boody of New Sweden recently enjoys an afternoon ski at the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge in Limestone.

Volunteer groomers’ reward is seeing people use ski trails

By Kathryn Olmstead on March 12, 2015, at 12:35 p.m.
Every time I ski on the beautifully groomed trails in Limestone, I tell myself to write a thank you to Norman Page, who maintains the trails at Trafton Lake and at the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, on the former Loring Air Force Base. I call him my personal trail groomer …
Wind-driven sub-zero temperatures did not deter participants in the 2015 Aroostook Women's Ski Day, who warmed up with a Zumba session led by Mandy Putnam before hitting the ski and snowshoe trails Feb. 1 at the Nordic Heritage Center in Presque Isle.

Community support keeps Hope & Justice Project going

By Kathryn Olmstead on Feb. 26, 2015, at 9:54 a.m.
Super Bowl Sunday might mean stocking up on snacks and beverages for an evening in front of the screen for some, but for a contingent of women from northern Maine and New Brunswick, it is a day to get out on the ski and snowshoe trails at the Nordic Heritage …
Perched high on a hill overlooking Madawaska and the surrounding valley, the Four Seasons Lodge, constructed in 2007 with donated materials and volunteer labor, provides a backdrop for a game of ski soccer on Jan. 11.

‘It’s just fantastic’: Volunteer-run Four Seasons in Madawaska offers outdoor activities families can afford

By Kathryn Olmstead on Jan. 15, 2015, at 1:07 p.m.
The temperature hovered around zero degrees outside, but one by one boys and girls ages 4 to 12 arrived at the Four Seasons Lodge in Madawaska on Jan. 3 for their weekly Saturday afternoon ski program. Led by Dawn Bragdon with assistance from local skiers, more than 45 children donned …
Among the contributors to "Valley of Hope: Reflections by Breast Cancer Survivors & their Families and Friends" at the book's unveiling July 27 at the University of Maine at Fort Kent are: (front, from left) Rollande Vaillancourt, Rachel Albert, Fern Desjardins, Carroll Ann Oakes (holding picture of mother Christina Thibodeau), Renee D’Amours, Mary Mikolajczak and Diana Sylvain; (back, from left) Denise Plourde, Kathryn Olmstead, Darrell McBreairty, Marilyn McBreairty, Wendy Jandreau, Laurine Jandreau, Catherine Pelletier, Jeannette Pelletier, Lucy Elliott and Claire Moss.

‘It could inspire others': New book shares stories of breast cancer survivors in the St. John Valley

By Kathryn Olmstead on Jan. 01, 2015, at 1:52 p.m.
Breast cancer. The message is often delivered in a phone call. The words evoke fear. The future becomes the present and life changes. The power of that phone call is one of the themes in a collection of narratives by breast cancer survivors in the St. John Valley. Yet the …
Maurice Bartlett, a legendary wood scaler employed by Quebec lumber baron Edouard LaCroix in the 1920s, was the inspiration for the main character in Leonard Hutchins' book, "Bon Homme."

The making of a good man

By Kathryn Olmstead on Dec. 18, 2014, at 11:06 a.m.
“It’s a very ancient saying, But a true and honest thought, That if you become a teacher, By your pupils you’ll be taught.”Story continues below advertisement. Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein wrote the words. Storyteller and retired teacher Leonard Hutchins demonstrates their veracity. I just finished reading a book by Hutchins titled …
Sisters Olivia Sanchez (left) and Emily Churchill celebrated Veterans Day by placing thank you notes on vehicles with veteran license plates in Presque Isle parking lots.

Presque Isle sisters surprise veterans with thank-you cards, small gifts

By Kathryn Olmstead on Dec. 04, 2014, at 12:20 p.m.
Kelly Hubbard of Mapleton was surprised to find a note on his windshield when he returned to his pickup in the Walmart parking lot on Veterans Day. The envelope tucked under the wiper read “Thank you, veterans” with a smiley face and a heart drawn under the words. The note …
Rita Lannigan of Presque Isle shows the 1980 issue of National Geographic picturing her grandmother, Alma Dube of Lille, mourning the closure of her church, Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel.

Encounter in historical pavilion reveals legend of Lille’s Alma Dube

By Kathryn Olmstead on Sept. 25, 2014, at 10:41 a.m.
We met at the Northern Maine Fair in Presque Isle in July. I was tending a display of magazines in the fair’s Historical Pavilion. One copy featured a cover photo of the imposing French Baroque Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel Church in Lille, which is now a cultural museum. “I can tell you a …
Debbie Sirois and her neighbor Phil Turner with two of the eight books the 92-year-old has published since he retired.

Pair of Aroostook authors enjoying writing in their 90s

By Kathryn Olmstead on Sept. 11, 2014, at 3:32 p.m.
Aroostook County has no shortage of role models for productive nonagenarians. Glenna Johnson Smith of Presque Isle was 90 when her first collection of essays was published, and this year she is celebrating the release of a sequel at age 94. At 92, Philip Turner of Caribou has just released …
A sculpture by Pohenegamook artist Francois Maltais in the Parc Clair Soleil in Cabano, Quebec, forms a backdrop for Alexis Ruest of Edmundston, New Brunswick, the boy pictured on promotional materials of the 2014 World Acadian Congress, during Aug. 24 closing ceremonies.

End of World Acadian Congress focused on future for the region

By Kathryn Olmstead on Aug. 28, 2014, at 11:13 a.m.
The end was a beginning on the closing day of the World Acadian Congress, hosted by northwestern New Brunswick, the Temiscouata region of Quebec and the St. John Valley of Maine. In Aug. 24 ceremonies at Parc Clair Soleil in Temiscouata sur-le-Lac, Quebec, the focus was on the future. Communities …
World Acadian Congress organizers Lydia Martin and Pat Ezzy lead Van Buren's Tintamarre down Main Street to the international bridge to St. Leonard, New Brunswick, on Aug. 10, carrying a banner bearing emblems of four communities that joined to celebrate the Congres Mondial Acadien 2014: (from left) Pohenegamook, Quebec; St. Leonard, New Brunswick, Saint Athanase, Quebec; and Van Buren, Maine.

Moved by the Acadian celebration

By Kathryn Olmstead on Aug. 14, 2014, at 1:54 p.m.
I think I have understood what it means to be Acadian, but last weekend I felt it. I have read about the deportation and migration of Acadian people from Nova Scotia to Maine, Louisiana and New Brunswick in the 1700s. I have been to Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, where Acadians …
Kathryn Olmstead

Remembering Column One: The graduated and entitled can’t be centered around

By Kathryn Olmstead on July 17, 2014, at 7:03 a.m.
When I first wrote for the Bangor Daily News in the 1970s, reporting (as Kathryn Swanson) to Presque Isle Bureau Chief Dean Rhodes, the newspaper’s managing editor, Marshall Stone, wrote a weekly column about writing, editing and resolving the ethical dilemmas journalists face. Called Column One, it gave readers insight …
Carol Ayoob (foreground) works with her kitchen crew during the opening days of The Whole Potato Cafe and Commons in Presque Isle.

Award-winning Presque Isle cafe promotes art, community, local produce

By Kathryn Olmstead on July 03, 2014, at 2:38 p.m.
When Carol Ayoob was defending her thesis for a University of Maine master’s degree in February 2013, the chairman of her committee declared, “This is the first time I have been in a student’s thesis.” The three-member committee consisting of faculty members from Orono and Presque Isle was gathered in …
The Sirois House at the Acadian Village in Van Buren where Don Cyr lived in the 1970s.

County historian reveals links between Acadians, Scandinavians

By Kathryn Olmstead on June 19, 2014, at 2:15 p.m.
If you have wondered why some Franco-Americans have blond hair and blue eyes, or why early Acadian settlers in North America built homes of square-hewn logs, historian Don Cyr of Lille has some answers. When Cyr addresses those gathered for the culmination of Swedish Midsommar at Thomas Park in New …
A collection of the teaching files of Kathryn Olmstead that she recently looked at in her home.

Reflecting on years in a classroom: Teaching is drawing out, not pouring in

By Kathryn Olmstead on June 05, 2014, at 9:20 a.m.
On shelves in my basement are long banker’s boxes labeled Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Maine. Years ago, I decided to confine all the paper residue of the years I spent in those five states into one box for each place – part of an effort to reduce the …
Packages of chips called Terra Blues produced from blue potatoes grown at LaJoie Growers LLC in Van Buren.

‘I feel betrayed’: Film portrayal of Van Buren irks some locals

By Kathryn Olmstead on May 22, 2014, at 1:05 p.m.
Armande Pelletier of Van Buren was excited when she learned the movie that had been filmed in her hometown was opening at the theater in Caribou. She was eager to see the beauty of her community evoked by the title “Beneath the Harvest Sky” spread across the screen. So she …
Kathryn Olmstead

Beware of online printer, computer scam

By Kathryn Olmstead on April 24, 2014, at 2:04 p.m.
“You’ve been scammed.” Words I did not want to hear, but perhaps I was hearing them in time to save myself some money, if not a loss of privacy. I had just given my credit card number to an online computer repair service. I was on hold on my land …
Darylen Cote (left) and Karen Keim give a pre-op thumbs up Jan. 14, when Cote received a kidney from Keim at the Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Kidney donor from Veazie, recipient from Caribou form special bond

By Kathryn Olmstead on March 13, 2014, at 12:53 p.m.
When Karen Keim of Veazie learned that her colleague Darylen Cote of Caribou needed a kidney, she knew she could be the donor. Keim, 53, is associate director of the TRIO Educational Opportunity Centers and TRIO Talent Search at the University of Maine in Orono. Cote, 63, directs the TRIO …