Canadian Heritage

Historical Vignettes

The Forest Industry in Madawaska - a Wind of Change for the Valley

On the other hand, this same industry saw the rising of certain political tensions later on, because of the ambiguity of treaties concerning Maine and New Brunswick borders. Loggers from Maine and New Brunswick made no territorial distinction and were cutting wood on both sides of the border. Afterwards, each would want to reclaim what the other had cut on "his territory", which led to the issue of respecting the international border.6 "This situation was very particular to Madawaska, a region united and divided at the same time", as Oneil Clavet from Edmundston explains in an interview granted to the National Geographic magazine in September of 1980.

I would say that it has to do with the fact that Madawaskayans had to live so long without knowing whether they belonged to the United States or Canada. (...) For fifty-nine years, this area was a bone of border contention because of vagueness in the 1783 Treaty of Versailles. Not until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 could the people of the valley claim a country.7

At the beginning, the forestry resources exploited in New Brunswick, and automatically in Madawaska, answered the naval construction industry's demands, first of all in Great Britain, and then in Saint John. The white pine was abundant in the Saint John River Valley and was used to build ship masts. Fostered by protectionist tariffs, this industry developed at a phenomenal rate.