November 17, 2019
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Acadian Congress includes smaller reunions, too

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Do you wish you had gone to the World Acadian Congress in northern Maine and parts of Quebec and New Brunswick? The event is still going strong with dozens of activities scheduled from now through Sunday, Aug. 24, and everyone is welcome.

You can check out the activities online at www.cma2014.com, or just head for the St. John Valley and see what strikes your fancy. This is the perfect time of year to ride along Route 1 from Van Buren to Fort Kent, or vice versa. The other side of the river is Canada, and the journey reminds me of the drive along the St. Lawrence River in Quebec.

Visit the Acadian Village in Van Buren, Mont Carmel in Lille, the Acadian Cross and family reunion monuments in St. David, the Frenchville Historical Society’s boxcar in Frenchville, and libraries in Van Buren, Madawaska and at the Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.

Congress activities are not just for Acadians, who descend from the French who were deported and otherwise moved out of Nova Scotia by the British in 1755, many of them settling Madawaska in 1785. Those with French-Canadian ancestry from Quebec are welcome as well, but so are people with no French heritage at all.

The Congress program lists the Jackson Family as holding its reunion on Aug. 18, the Kelly Family on Aug. 19, the McBreairty Family on Aug. 20, the Gardner Family on Aug. 21, and the O’Leary Family on Aug. 22, all in Allagash. The Martin Family will reunite on Aug. 21 in Madawaska, with Aug. 22 reunions scheduled for the Parents in Van Buren, and the Arsenaults, Landrys, Richards and Saindons in Canada. The St. PIerre Family will hold its reunion Aug. 23 in Van Buren, when other reunions will be held in Canada for the Albert, Asselin, Berube, Boucher, Dube, Landry, Robert and Turcotte families.

Some activities have a modest admission fee, such as $5 for the lecture on “Acadian and French-Canadian Architecture in the Saint John Valley” at 10 a.m. Aug. 23 at Mont Carmel, 993 Main St. Lille. But many more are free.

Organizers of the World Acadian Congress no doubt will be taking attendance at as many activities as possible to help them decide what may work well at future Congresses, held every five years. But we know that registrations and official counts can’t tell the full story.

We had 35 or so come to the Saucier Reunion, held in conjunction with the Wallagrass Summer Festival on Aug. 10. My sign-in list showed that people came from as far away as Connecticut and Moncton, New Brunswick. Sauciers in my family shopped in Fort Kent and Madawaska while they were here, and attended the boat parade and fireworks in St. Agatha.

Trips around our area of The County revealed that in addition to scheduled reunions, there were numerous smaller reunions held here and there that were not listed in any program. Frenchville Sauciers and Fort Kent Sauciers came to a party celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of Wilfred Jr. and Claudette (Saucier) Saucier, for example.

I also have heard about gatherings that will be held after the official dates of Aug. 8-24 to accommodate work and vacation schedules.

It came to me while we stopped by the Muskie Derby on Aug. 10 in Fort Kent. A lot more fish get caught than actually make it to the weigh-in. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the unofficial family reunions during the World Acadian Congress swelled the numbers from 120 to 220 or more.

Those who attended the American Folk Festival in Bangor some years ago are aware that after the official three-year tenure of the event, Bangor has gone on to old the National Folk Festival annually, drawing tens of thousands of people.

Here’s hoping that the enthusiasm of this year’s World Acadian Congress will help the annual Acadian Festival, scheduled around Acadian Day on Aug. 15, will continue and help to bring more people to the Saint John Valley every summer.

The Descendants of Charles and Effie Dickey of Canaan, who were the parents of 22 children, are planning a family gathering for Saturday, Aug. 23, in the Fellowship Hall of the Brown Memorial United Methodist Church in Clinton. Charles and Effie were married on Aug. 18, 1881, in Clinton. All their children, 14 girls and 8 boys, were single births; they all lived to maturity, married and had children of their own. Eighteen of the twenty-two children lived into their 70s, 80s and 90s – a remarkable feat given the era. In addition to raising their own large brood, Charles and Effie also helped rear several of their grandchildren. This year’s events will commence at 9 a.m. with a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave sites of Charles and Effie at the Village Cemetery, located along the easterly side of Route 100, just southerly of Clinton village. The graves of Charles and Effie are located behind the Soldiers’ Monument. Visits will be made to the grave sites of other ancestors and relatives buried in the same cemetery. Those wishing to place flowers at the graves of these other family members are encouraged to do so. Activities will include a potluck meal, slide show and sharing of genealogical information.