“The Hour is Critical” – Franco-Americans in the Great War

Our element, like all others, maybe even more than all others – bound by tradition and character – must get involved, and cooperate. Such was the firm pronouncement of La Justice of Biddeford, Maine, on its front page for April 12, 1917, just a few days after the US Congress had declared war on Germany. The prominent column, entitled […]

A New England Mardi Gras – The International Snowshoe Convention of 1925

“Fun for all, and all for fun,” was the verdict of one local newspaper; “a Mardi Gras” reminiscent of the pre-prohibition era, according to another. On the weekend of 7-8 February, 1925, eight hundred French Canadian snowshoers descended on the city of Lewiston, Maine (population 30,000), for two days of revelry and winter sports. The festivities, […]

Franco-American Holiday Traditions

“Je vous souhaite une bonne et heureuse année, une bonne santé, et le paradis à la fin de vos jours”   With those words, or variations thereof, generations of French Canadians and Franco-Americans have welcomed in hundreds of New Years. The New Years blessing is traditionally given by the patriarch of the family – the […]

A French Thanksgiving Off the Coast of Maine

American thanksgivings are characterized by slabs of roasted meat, free-flowing liquor and good cheer. This tradition is usually traced to the Pilgrim Fathers, and a feast they shared with the local Indians at Plymouth (Massachusetts) in 1621. However, it’s now widely accepted that there are many other possible origins for the tradition of Thanksgiving, including Spanish celebrations […]