Chez Nous  LbNA # 17279

Placed DateAug 6 2005
LocationGrand Isle, ME
Found By phynstar
Last Found Jul 30 2015
Hike Distance?

The St. John Valley of northern Maine is home to descendants of the Acadians, French settlers in Nova Scotia who were routed from their homes and forcibly deported by the British military beginning in 1755. Many of the Acadians were sent by ship to numerous locations along the eastern and southern coasts of both the United States and Canada (including Louisiana, where they came to be known as Cajuns). Most families were separated, with the men sent to one location and women and children to another. Le Grand Dérangement, as this tragic event in Acadian history became known, was memorialized in the Longfellow poem Evangeline.

Some Acadian families were able to escape before being captured and, over the course of three generations, made their way up the St. John River before finally settling in the St. John Valley where the river now serves as the border between the United States and Canada. This area is sometimes referred to as Chez Nous by the bilingual families of Acadian descent still living in small towns there. Grand Isle, Maine is one of these communities, where you're as likely to be greeted with a "bonjour" as with a "hello."

No visit to this part of the country, regardless of which language you speak, is complete without a sighting of one of the famous local residents. To spot one for yourself, find the Mount Carmel rest stop along Rt. 1 in Grand Isle, approximately 8 miles south of the border crossing at Madawaska/Edmundston, N.B. Pull into the parking area and look for the old water pump (heeding the warning signs about the water's uncertain potability if you're thirsty).

Walk up the small path heading left behind the pump a short way (about 8 paces - one pace = two steps) until it hits a larger path running in a perpendicular direction. You'll probably see the outhouse uphill to your left. Go right on this larger path approximately 7 paces and then look for a medium-sized, moss-covered boulder among fallen logs in the woods to your left. There should be only one big boulder, but to make sure you're in the proper place, you should also see the first picnic pavilion downhill to your right. Take approximately 6 paces into the woods to the boulder, taking care to watch for poison ivy or other hazards along your way.

Tucked behind the boulder, under a small birch log and some rocks, you'll find your official welcome to Chez Nous. Please rehide the box carefully and sprinkle forest debris around it after replacing the rocks and the log. This area appears to be popular with after-hours visitors, but they'll be unlikely to accidentally discover the box in the dark if you rehide it with care.

This is a "carry-in, carry-out" rest stop, so if you tarry to have a little snack of maple sugar candy after you stamp in, please be sure to bring any trash out with you. If you're still hungry, you might try a lobster roll at the Tastee Freeze just up the road in Madawaska - a traditional toasted New England-style bun stacked high with shellfish-y goodness at a bargain basement price. Just be sure to save your treats as a reward for *after* you've found Chez Nous so you don't leave any tempting smells on the box.

This is an orphaned letterbox - please send an update if you find it. Thanks!

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