In honor of the St. John Valley’s rich Franco-American culture, and in recognition of next year’s Congrès mondial acadien (World Acadian Congress), the University of Maine at Fort Kent has unveiled five new campus signs for University building fronting on Pleasant Street in Fort Kent.
The five University buildings displaying new signs are: Maison de Madawaska (Madawaska House); Maison de l’Acadie (Acadia House); Centre Honneur Haenssler (Haenssler Honors Center); Maison Saint-David (St. David House); and, Ancienne École Normale (Old Model School).
The University unveiled the signs last week, a year in advance of the World Acadian Congress, as a way to honor the area’s cultural heritage, and to help welcome world travelers as they make their way throughout the Valley before and during next year’s Congrès festivities.
“The University is proud to contribute to the growing awareness and recognition of the Congrès Mondial Acadien 2014 by honoring its Acadian roots. We hope community members, students, and visitors will appreciate this expression of our Acadian heritage,” said UMFK President, Wilson G. Hess.
The fifth World Acadian Congress — Congrès mondial acadien 2014 – will be held August 8 to 24, 2014 in Acadia of the Lands and Forests, which includes the state of Maine, and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec.
UMFK was established by an act of the state legislature in February 1878 to establish it as a training school for teachers in the Madawaska territory. This step meant that people in the region could be trained so they could teach at schools within the territory, and thus begin educating the largely French-speaking people of the St. John Valley.
Today, UMFK embraces and celebrates the Valley’s rich Franco-American cultural heritage, and includes it as an integral part of the University’s vision and mission statements. The area’s Acadian and Franco American history and culture also is documented, preserved, celebrated, and disseminated by the campus’ magnificent Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes.
The new campus signs were built and painted by noted St. John Valley sign maker, Richard Smith, of St. Agatha. Smith is a 1955 alumnus of the Madawaska Training School.