Today in Maine’s Franco History is a look back at important dates in the history of Maine’s Franco-American communities. It will run throughout 2020, the bicentennial year of Maine’s statehood. Your suggestions for additional events, people, and institutions to celebrate are most welcome.
January 13, 1964 – Louis-Philippe Gagné of Lewiston died, aged 63. Gagné was a leader in Lewiston-Auburn’s Franco-American community and active as a journalist, sportsman, and politician. Born in Québec City in 1900, he worked for Le Soleil, that city’s newspaper from 1917, and moved to Lewiston in 1922, where he became editor of Le Messager.
In addition to his work as a print and radio journalist (he hosted a long-running program on WCOU, Lewiston’s French-language station), Gagné was active in local politics, rising to become mayor from 1947-1949. He also founded Lewiston’s first permanent snowshoe club, Le Montagnard, in 1924. Just a few months later, he organized the first international snowshoe convention, held in Lewiston in 1925. More than anyone else, Gagné was responsible for popularizing the sport of snowshoeing in Maine and New England.