The Newspaper Le Madawaska
In the mid-nineteenth century after more than sixty years, the Upper Saint John River Valley gradually came out of its isolation. Wireless telegraphy1 reached the region in 1851; a network of roads was being developed and the first railway lines were built in the last quarter of the century. These new technologies allowed people to enter the world of written communications. Some Madawaska residents received their initiation with Le Moniteur Acadien, the first Acadian newspaper, published in Shediac between 1867 and 1925. In Northwest N.B., the first regional weekly wants to be “the standard-bearer for the territory” on the shores of the Saint John. Le Journal du Madawaska is published between approximately 1902 and 1906, by Dr. Thomas H. Pelletier in Van Buren. This first experience for the press along the Upper Saint John is River is successful.
With the aim of “creating a spirit of partnership, a close association of ideas so necessary for the material and intellectual progress of our people”, Lawyer Maximilien H. Cormier and Doctor Albert-M. Sormany establish a second newspaper called Le Madawaska in 1913. The pessimistic predictions and difficult beginnings did not dim the determination of the first directors of the newspaper and dynamism of their successors.
The artist Claude Picard wanted to pay tribute to Mr. J. Gaspard Boucher (1897-1955) who, after acquiring shares in Le Madawaska in 1923, became its owner from 1926 on. In his many editorials and commentaries, Mr. Boucher became the defender and promoter of French-speakers in the province. The education of a more learned generation was one of his major concerns: he would be one of the most dedicated promoters for the founding of a College in Madawaska. The scene here represents J. Gaspard Boucher at his office and, in the background, College Saint-Louis, founded by the Eudist fathers from the Congregation of Jesus and Mary in 1946. They are now two centers of cultural importance in the region. The newspaper Le Madawaska now has more than 75 years of existence and in 1988 won the trophy for “Best Newspaper of the Year”, awarded by the “Association de la presse francophone hors-Québec”.
- Should be “Telegraphy” instead of “Wireless telegraphy”.