Bowdoin to Celebrate Maine's Franco American Heritage Nov. 13-15

Story posted October 30, 2006

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Portrait of James Bowdoin I (by Joseph Badger, 1747) courtesy of Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Bequest of Mrs. Sarah Bowdoin Dearborn.

Bowdoin College, which was founded by the descendant of a 17th-century Huguenot refugee, will honor its French roots as well as the Franco-American experience in Maine with the three-day public symposium "Celebrating the Franco American Heritage of Maine" November 13-15, 2006.

Bowdoin received its charter in 1794. Its patron was diplomat, agriculturist, and art and book collector James Bowdoin III, who named the College for his father, James Bowdoin II, former governor of Massachusetts. James II was the grandson of Pierre Baudouin, a physician from La Rochelle, France, who was forced to give up his practice and property, and flee to Falmouth (now Portland), Maine, in 1685 after King Louis XIV signed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. (Read more Bowdoin Family history...)

"We are very excited to have this opportunity to highlight both Bowdoin's French roots and Maine's Franco American tradition," said Chris Potholm, DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government and one of the symposium's organizers. "We look forward to sharing that joint heritage with both Bowdoin students and the general public by celebrating the Franco story of 'to the stars through difficulties.' Franco Americans from Maine, New England, and Canada are especially welcome at the event, which will feature cultural, historical, political, and linguistic dimensions."

The symposium will open with the panel discussion "Tactics and Success in Franco Upward Mobility" at 7 p.m., Monday, November 13, in Thorne Hall, Daggett Lounge. The discussion will be moderated by Severin Beliveau, partner at the Portland law firm Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau and Pachios. Participants include Norman Boulet, former president, Boulet Lumber Co.; Robert W. Daigle, president and CEO, Camden National Corporation; Lucien Gosselin, president, Lewiston/Auburn Economic Growth Council; and Berthier Martin, former president, Fraser Paper Ltd.

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In this photograph circa 1920, members of the Tondreau family stand in front of their Maine Street "Fancy Groceries" store. The building was part of the Oddfellows' Block, and burned in 1926. Photo courtesy of the Pejepscot Historical Society.

"Celebrating the Political and Legal Dimensions of the Franco American Experience" is the topic of a panel discussion Tuesday, November 14, at 7 p.m. in Thorne Hall, Daggett Lounge. Potholm, who has studied the Franco American impact on elections in Maine for two decades, will moderate. Participants include Paul Jacques, assistant commissioner, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Lisa Marraché, physician and Maine State Representative; John Martin, Maine State Senator and former Speaker of the Maine House; and Congressman Mike Michaud, Maine's 2nd District.

The documentary film Réveil—Waking Up French, by Ben Levine of Rockland, Maine, will be screened at 3 p.m. Wednesday, November 15, in Thorne Hall, Daggett Lounge. Réveil looks at how Franco Americans in New England connect with their heritage and reclaim the French language.

Immediately following the screening, a panel discussion on "Cultural and Artistic Dimensions of the Franco American Experience" will be led by Juliana L'Heureux, executive director of CHANS Home Health Care and author of the Portland Press Herald newspaper column "Les Franco Americans." Panel participants include Rita Dube, executive director, Franco American Heritage Center, Lewiston; Yvon Labbé, founder, Franco American Studies Program, University of Maine-Orono; Françoise Paradis, author of Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie; and Hanétha Vété-Congolo, assistant professor of Romance languages at Bowdoin.

The panel discussions and film showing are open to the public. Admission is free.

"Celebrating the Franco American Heritage of Maine" is sponsored by the Bowdoin College Multicultural Affairs Program, and the departments of Government and Romance Languages.

For more information call 207-725-3433.

Home page photo credit: St. John River lumbermen, undated photo, courtesy of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

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