During a recent research trip to Portland, Maine, I stayed with a distant cousin who is only one generation from being French Canadian. Her mother was Acadian and her father was born in Quebec. She grew up listening to her parents speak French at home and tease each other about their different accents.
When surveyed by the US Community Census, 30 percent of all Maine people, living throughout the state, self-identified as having some Franco-American heritage. Perhaps this statistic is not surprising. Between 1840 and 1930, about 900,000 French Canadians emigrated to the United States, primarily for economic reasons. Some might think the American melting pot had long ago erased any remnants of French Canadian heritage, but that is certainly not the case in Maine.
The Portland Press Herald recently published an article on its website about a resurgence of interest in speaking French in Maine. Written by Julian L’Heureux for the Franco-American blog, the article provides an account of past discrimination and a 1919 law that “made speaking French in public school illegal.” Only in 1969 was this “English Only” law finally erased from the books.
To read the article in its entirety, visit French Language and Cultural Pride.