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The French in Maine

By Linda Tancs

In 1603, Pierre Dugua was commissioned by the King of France to initiate an expedition to the New World and to establish a French presence. By the summer of 1604, an expedition team sailed into Passamaquoddy Bay, an inlet between Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and settled on a small island they named Saint Croix (French for “cross”) because the confluence of the surrounding water systems looked akin to the shape of a cross. To commemorate the history of this settlement, Saint Croix Island International Historic Site was established. The area abounds with seals and birds and, approximately twice per day, the water and islands of the St. Croix River reveal the extreme tides of the Maine coast. When the tides drop below sea level, you’ll find shellfish, sea urchins and sediments normally under water. The site is located 8 miles south of Calais, Maine. A visitor center is inside the ranger station. Take the self-guided interpretative trail, featuring bronze figures of the French and members of the Passamaquoddy tribe as well as displays that discuss historical events and interactions between the two cultures.

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