The History of Madawaska

Madawaska is a postcard perfect little town along the St. John River. One of our big claims to fame is that we are the home to one of the largest working paper mills—in the state of Maine. We’re also “The Most Northeasternly Town in the U.S.”For such a small town, we’ve got a lot of history. Here are some of the highlights, where you’ll be introduced to some of the earliest people to live here:

In early colonial times, this area was a hunting and fishing location for a Native American tribe called the Walastaqiyik (also referred to as Maliseet) around the St. John River valley. At one time, their territory was fairly large.However, the Acadians, who were descendants of French Colonists who had relocated to Canada, came here to live in the northeastern U.S. to avoid deportation by the British. The Walastaqiyik granted the earliest settlers permission to stay as long as the newcomers promised to protect them from intruders. In the following years, however, there was an influx of European settlers.Some were fleeing the British, and others were in search of fertile lands to farm and plentiful game.Bit by bit, the Europeans displaced these indigenous people.

A settler named John Baker petitioned for Madawaska to be included in Maine. He had a party celebrating Independence Day on July 4th, 1827 and they flew an American flag.The flag was removed by the local Magistrate. Baker’s wife, Sophie, got more material and simply made another flag. Baker was jailed by the British for two months and fined. This caused a bit of a stir between the Americans, who felt that Baker was an American citizen captured on American soil, and the British, who still considered the land their own. The King of the Netherlands was brought in to make an unbiased decision, which Maine rejected. The Aroostook (or, sometimes, the Pork and Beans) War followed. Calling it a war is a bit of a misnomer. There were militia units involved but there was no actual combat. A few people were arrested but there were no combat-relateddeaths. Diplomats met together in Washington and signed the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which peacefully settled the border dispute—essentially in Maine’s favor. If you learned about it at all in school (if you’re not from around here; anyone who is already knows this stuff), it was probably for one of two reasons: 1) afterwards, the government decided they were taking control of the military away from the states and making it a Federal responsibility; or 2) because it was the last ‘serious’ confrontation between the US and the UK.

Fast forward to modern times and we’re all citizens of the United States, can fly flags without being arrested, speak a lot of French, and enjoy a good relationship with our Canadian neighbors up in Edmundston. Pretty exciting for a little town, eh?