Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jacques Ferland

Second Committee Member

Scott W. See

Third Committee Member

Richard W. Judd

Additional Committee Members

Mazie (Mary L.) Hough

Jane S. Smith


The establishment of the international border between Maine and New Brunswick in 1842 through the signature of the Webster-Ashburton treaty divided the Francophone population of the Madawaska region along the Saint John River. As a result, each half became administered by an Anglophone government. The linguistic and cultural differences between the Madawaska French and the Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling majority in both the state and the province complicated the establishment of new public institutions. The language of both administrations as well as the language of public education was English; a language that very few people among the Madawaska French spoke or understood. This dissertation compares the politics of education of the state of Maine and the province of New Brunswick in how they dealt with the rural Francophone minority of the Madawaska French. Maine and New Brunswick established their public school systems around the same time, following the school reform movements and later, the progressive school movement. Both the state and the province faced similar challenges and barriers as they worked at establishing their public school system in the Madawaska region. Maine adopted a proactive approach with a clear assimilation agenda, while New Brunswick appeared slow to address the quality of education in its Francophone communities after the Compromise of 1875 and failed to provide a proper teacher training program for Francophones. Concurrently, the Madawaska French were seeking the services of the Roman Catholic Church for the education of their youth, forcing both Maine and New Brunswick to integrate religious orders in their public school systems in the region. I argue that the establishment of the public school system by both governments in the Madawaska region created a deep sense of alienation among the Madawaska French community, but it also created a powerful incentive for them to preserve their culture and traditions, forcing the authorities to compromise on the secular character of the public school system.