Date of Award

5-2015

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Interdisciplinary Program

Advisor

Carol N. Toner

Second Committee Member

Betsy Beattie

Third Committee Member

Kimberly R. Sebold

Abstract

Fort Kent, Maine, and Clair, New Brunswick, are fully integrated borderlands. When French Canadians and Acadians began settling what is now extreme northern Maine, northern New Brunswick and southern Quebec in 1785, the two communities belonged to an area called the Madawaska Territory. The Madawaska Territory was not officially part of either the United States or the British Empire. The area was, and continues to be, populated by an inextricably linked population sharing a history, a culture, a religion and a language. Additionally, since the two locales are geographically proximal, many citizens share family networks.

Although the citizens of the geographically isolated Madawaska Territory mostly went about their business with little interference from the United States or British governments, by the late 1830s logging disputes placed the countries at an impasse which resulted in the bloodless Aroostook War. The signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842 resolved the boundary dispute. The Treaty, which assigned the St. John River as the international boundary, abruptly divided the Fort Kent-Clair community, assigning Fort Kent to the United States and Clair to Canada. Subsequently, the citizens went from being “one people” to a people divided by an international boundary, although the boundary was readily navigable.

For over one hundred and fifty years, the citizens of Fort Kent and Clair crossed the border with relative ease. However, the events of September 11, 2001, and the United States’ response to these events made the boundary into a barrier. Ultimately, the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) and the militarization of the border, particularly in the United States, has resulted in markedly decreased border traffic which has yet to recover to pre-9/11 levels, perhaps it never will. Despite the above factors, however, the rapport between the two communities, although undoubtedly altered, endures.

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