Ave Maris Stella LbNA # 17281
|Placed Date||Aug 6 2005|
Please note: This box may be inaccessible in winter, which lasts an awfully long time in this part of the world. If you do choose to seek it when there is snow on the ground, please take great pains to disturb the snow in areas other than where you search as well so as not to lead later visitors to the monument directly to the box's hiding place. Thank you!
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 flee 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 a natural border between the United States and Canada. The first of these settlers landed in St. David, now part of the city of Madawaska, Maine. The Acadian Cross, a memorial to these pioneer families, has been erected in St. David above the shores of the St. John River. The Acadian flag flies proudly over the site, and a grove of trees planted in honor of these families borders the edges of the memorial. Each year a massive multi-generational and international family reunion is held for one of these families, and the descendants of those settlers make a pilgrimage to this memorial to plant a tree and erect a plaque. Ave Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea), the official Acadian anthem, is often sung at these reunions.
To find the Acadian Cross, first find St. David's Catholic Church on Rt. 1 in Madawaska, approximately 1 1/2 miles south of the Madawaska/Edmundston N.B. border crossing. A sign next to the church parking lot will direct you to a small gravel road leading to the Cross. Follow this road half a mile down to the memorial, paying special attention at the railroad crossing as the rail line is quite active and there are no warning lights or gates at the intersection.
After parking near the wooden carving of a settler in a canoe, find the Theriault family tree - a crabapple planted at the last Theriault reunion in 1993, where hundreds of descendants of Jehan Terriau (family patriarch, born in France in 1637) gathered in celebration. Count the number of plaques - including that of the Theriault family itself - from this point back to the clearing where the Cross stands. Remember this number. Be sure to stop at the end of this row - do not continue on to the other row of family trees beyond the small clearing. The separation between the two rows at the Cross itself should be quite clear.
After counting, walk to the row of evergreens that borders the potato fields beyond, keeping the canoe carving and pavilion to your right. You'll see a plaque at the left end of the row identifying this as the Madawaska High School Class of 2000 Tree Lane. (The trees were planted by the Class of 2000 when they were kindergartners.) Looking at the numbered stones on the ground in front of each tree, find the tree that corresponds to the number you just counted. Do *not* count the trees themselves - be sure to look for the correct number on the ground. Beneath the branches of the tree whose number matches the one you've noted, on the far (potato field) side of the trunk and under a stone, you'll find a stirring symbol of Acadian pride. You may want to wear gloves, as you'll be reaching far under the tree's lowest (and potentially prickly) branches.
Please rehide the box carefully, being sure that it cannot be seen by the casual observer when you are done. Resting the stone on top will not hide all the sides of the boxes, but with the cover from the tree branches themselves, this should still keep the box safely enough out of view of anyone not actively searching for it. Bring along a recording of Ave Maris Stella to sing along to on your drive back up the hill, and keep in your memory the brave refugees who journeyed for decades (with much help from the Native Canadians) to finally find a land they could once again call home.
This is an orphaned letterbox - please send an update if you find it.
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