Vetal Cyr:

First Principal of "M.T.S."

On February 21, 1878 an act establishing a training school for teachers in the Madawaska territory was approved and signed by Maine governor Selden Connor. Specifically, the act stated:

...the Trustees of the Normal Schools are hereby authorized to establish and maintain, for a period of not less than six months in each year, two schools in Madawaska Territory, so-called, for the purpose of training persons to teach in the common schools of said territory. The towns in which said schools may be located, shall furnish suitable buildings therefore, free of expense, and shall also furnish fuel for said schools. The choice of books and teachers for said schools, the course of study to be pursued therein, and the grade of scholarship for admission thereto, shall be under the control of said trustees.

A sum of $1,000, taken from school funds appropriated to the several municipalities in the territory, was set aside in the State Treasury. This money was to be used to establish and maintain, "for a time at least," what would be familiarly referred to as the Madawaska Training School, or M.T.S.


As State Superintendent of Common Schools W.J. Corthell noted at the time, the reasons for establishing the school were found in the "peculiar character of the people of this section," who were "...almost wholly French and French speaking." The idea for the creation of such a school for the residents of the St. John River Valley was not a new one, Corthell said. "To Americanize them, to bring them out of their isolation in character, modes of life and of thinking, and make them, as far as possible, homogeneous with the population surrounding them, has been the purpose of various educational experiments since 1857." Furthermore, the Superintendent commented, "To teach these people with other necessary things, to speak and read English, and thus break down the barriers between them and the 'outside' has been found a difficult thing to do."

Corthell recognized the need for, and the value of, bilingual teachers. In the Madawaska territory should not only be "versed in the ordinary branches to he taught." They must also, in his opinion, be able to "speak and read both languages." To obtain teachers thus qualified, especially a sufficient number who could afford to work for the "small pay made necessary by the comparative poverty of the section," had previously been "practically impossible." Educational progress in the area in the past had been "as great as could be expected under the circumstances,'' but the State Superintendent felt that that progress had not been "commensurate with the expenditures made." A "careful personal" examination of the schools in most of the towns and plantations to be served under the act had been made and convinced Mr. Corthell that "some special agency for training up a special body of teachers from the native population" was definitely needed. "Hence the Madawaska training school," he said.

The new school opened September 30, 1878 under the supervision of Vetal Cyr, "a native of that section." Cyr was a graduate of Houlton Academy and the State College in Orono in the class of 1876. He also was an experienced teacher, having taught in "some of the best schools in Aroostook County." He was assisted by Miss Mae B. Morrill, a graduate of Farmington Normal School. Forty-six "thoroughly interested" pupils attended the first term, which closed on December 20th. All students pursued the common school studies required by law except physiology and book-keeping. English textbooks were used, and "special attention" was given to training that initial class "to speak and think in good English."

After a second term of twelve weeks the school was transferred to Van Buren, where two similar-length terms were held under the same teachers. Superintendent Corthell found the results "so promising" that he recommended that the same schedule be kept for at least two years longer, and after that the school meet in Fort Kent and Van Buren on alternate years. "As a matter of equity," Corthell further advised that M.T.S. be funded on the same basis as the other Normal schools.

E. S. Morris succeeded Mr. Corthell as State Superintendent of Common Schools, and it is interesting to note his comments on the progress made at the Madawaska Training School during its second year of operation. Morris found that "quite a percentage of" the students there had "but little knowledge of the English language." Because some could not speak the language "to any great extent" when they entered, he explained, instruction of necessity had to be "very elementary and even primary in its character." Morris reminded the trustees of the Normal schools that M.T.S. had a special mission. "This school is not a High School or an academy, but as its name indicates, (is) particularly devoted to the training of teachers."

School terms were again split between Fort Kent and Van Buren. The school population in what Morris called "this interesting portion of our State" numbered nearly 3,500 in 1879, and as the Superintendent pointed out, "The State wishes to educate all its children in the language of the State and Nation, and to make them an English Speaking people." After all, he stated, "the laws are printed in English" and the "business of the courts is transacted in the same language." That meant something as basic as the deeds by which the local people held title to their farms were, to them, written in a "foreign language." Accordingly, all instruction at the training school was given in English.

Although "many" of the pupils attending M.T.S. that year had some teaching experience, perhaps the "larger part" had not, but wanted to teach in the near future. Like Corthell, Morris recognized that "Those employed to teach in this region must of necessity be able to talk the French language, for as yet many of their pupils understand no other." Previously, Valley teachers had had no opportunity to prepare themselves to teach English. Therefore, the fledgling training school provided a particular "want." Besides, and this was important from Morris' point of view, the students there were "not only being instructed in WHAT to teach but HOW to teach."

Morris himself visited the school in Van Buren in June of 1879 and attested to the "faithfulness of both teachers and pupils." Subsequently, Miss Morrill died and was replaced by Miss L. Maria Knight, another graduate of Farmington Normal School. Further reports received by Morris indicated that M.T.S. was continuing to do "good work," and he offered the following predictions in his annual report: "as it continues from year to year the standard will be raised in the school, the standard of teachers in the Madawaska district will be raised, and the education of this interesting people will become more general and of a higher grade." The Superintendent entered his plea for continued funding of the training school. "It is hoped that the State will take no backward steps, but continue to appropriate a sum sufficient for the expenditures of the school."

Vetal Cyr submitted his first annual report as Principal of the Madawaska Training School in December of 1879. He listed the following attendance figures: fall, Fort Kent, 46; winter, Fort Kent, 49; spring Van Buren, 32; summer, Van Buren, 34. Some of the best textbooks then available were being used, for example: French and English Royal Reader, Harpers' and Swinton's Geographies, Hagar's and Robinson's Arithmetic, Quackenbo's Grammar and Language Lessons, Harpers' Smaller United States History, Payson and Dunton's Book-Keeping, Kini's FreeHand Drawing, the Soencerian Copy-books, Webster's Dictionary and the French Neuveau Treate. The two instructors provided other books for reference. The Principal pointed out that instruction was "not confined to the line of any textbook, although the best were in use...." Most important, as he viewed it, was to make the school "in a true sense PRACTICAL, adapting it to the advancement of the pupils." He was sure that Morris's visit during the summer term had made the State Superintendent" familiar as to the necessity of such a school in this territory and with the general character of its work.

Principal Cyr said he had two primary responsibilities. First, he must assist the pupils in "securing a thorough knowledge of the ELEMENTS of the common school studies. Second, he considered it important to make them "sufficiently familiar with the English language to enable them to teach the same in that tongue." He was well aware of the fact that "a very large percentage of" his students did not speak English. Indeed, he said, "many could not even understand it when they joined the school." For that reason "progress was necessarily very slow," and he had to make "sure of ONE STEP before taking another."

Cyr was careful to note that the methods used during the first year were "experiments," not set policy, and at least in part determined by the "limited previous preparation of the pupils." He was encouraged, however, by the dedication of the first class. "Nearly all" had entered with the "intention of fitting themselves to teach," and had remained through the two terms held in each place. The recommendation that "professional work by the pupils should accompany every step of the work," had been followed to "a certain extent." Progress in meeting this recommendation was slowed by the "variety of grades" of preparation that had to be dealt with and the "amount of time necessary to the teachers in giving instruction."

Vetal Cyr indicated his belief that "one must KNOW before he can apply," and he personally felt "content for the present in using the best methods and teaching WHAT and HOW to teach." These were not empty words, for Cyr had formed a primary class during the summer session, where M.T.S. students were given "opportunities for observation and practice in teaching" one hour each day. And, he thought the results were "very satisfactory and of a practical benefit to all."

Principal Cyr, looking to the "advancement of the (training) school and all the common schools," suggested that "a grade for admission and a course of studies" be established. The former, he felt, would "excite an interest in those who wished to attend to fit themselves at the common schools...." In turn, he continued, "better teachers would become necessary and better teachers would be employed." As for the value of a definite course of studies, Cyr contended that it would "mark out a certain amount of work to be done, and would encourage those attending to persevere till this was accomplished, giving as a result a more intelligent class of teachers."

In 1880, N.A. Luce, the new State Superintendent of Common Schools, reaffirmed the support given to the Madawaska Training School by his predecessors Corthell and Morris. He agreed that a "class of teachers" was needed in the Valley schools who could "readily use both languages." Such teachers, he reported, simply "could not be secured" prior to the establishment of M.T.S. He attributed the "successful operation" of the school over the preceding two years to the following: selecting "the best and the brightest" of the older pupils and the existing teachers from the area schools, thorough drilling in the "elementary branches of knowledge," perfecting, reading, writing and speaking in English, seeking to develop the students' "power to think and express thought clearly and readily in both languages," and striving to train the students "in those methods of teaching and of school management best adapted to the conditions of the schools in which they must teach." Luce personally examined the training school students that summer. He also talked with "some forty" school children taught by people who had attended M.T.S. and had come away with a "more than satisfactory" impression. He found that fifty-seven of the seventy-seven teachers employed in the various school districts in the French towns and plantations had attended the training school for one or more terms. The new institution was then "powerfully affecting for good the educational interests of the section." Superintendent Luce observed, "It has already given an uplift to the schools there, such as all previous effort had failed to give, and the influence in the future will be still more potent."

Luce was anxious that an appropriate level of funding for M.T.S. be consistently maintained. The original figure of $1,000 was reduced to $800 in 1879, which proved insufficient, and the legislature had to make up the "deficiency" by "drawing for the balance on some other appropriation." It cost $987 to run the school in 1880 and that did not include $187 owed to teachers in back pay. Lute urged that the latter bill be paid promptly and encouraged the legislature to increase the appropriation for the coming year to $1,200 and $1,000 annually thereafter.

In his report to Superintendent Luce in 1880 Vetal Cyr indicated the following attendance figures: fall, Fort Kent, 44; winter, Fort Kent, 55; spring, Van Buren, 32; summer, Van Buren, 34; total, 96. Physical Geography, Physiology, Civil Government, Free-Hand Drawing, Penmanship and Practice of Teaching had been added to the course of study. Among the new textbooks adopted were: Franklin's Fifth Reader, Cornell's Physical Geography, Townsend's Civil Government, Payson and Dunton's Book-Keeping; Krusis' Free-Hand Drawing and Worcester's Dictionary. The instructors "sifted and rendered easily comprehensible" the text material and made "many of the best authors" available to their students. According to Cyr daily attendance was up from the year before, and the students "found little difficulty in going forward with their English studies, doing the work with more pleasure and satisfaction than formerly." To encourage proper use of the English language pupils had to "use no other in and about the school rooms."

Mr. Cyr was encouraged by the interest shown by parents in the school's efforts. He was enthusiastic about the decision made in Van Buren to erect a "fine building" to accommodate the school terms held there. In Cyr's words "there seems to be now few obstacles to retard" the school's progress, providing, the State shall look upon it with favor." Even more progress could be made Cyr felt, if "a change in the present method of certifying and examining teachers in this territory" were made. He hoped Luce would agree, saying, "You no doubt observed this need while visiting this section during the last summer, and it is hoped some different mode will soon be adopted and the evil remedied."

N. A. Luce, commenting in his 1881 report, saw the improvements in education in the St. John Valley as part of the benefits being reaped from the creation of the statewide Normal School system. "In the schools among the French along the St. John, and in those in the remote plantations of Franklin, Somerset, Oxford and Washington, one familiar with the spirit and methods of the normal schools, can find the signs of their influence." One sign of that influence was the increase in enrollment at M.T.S. that year. Two twenty-week terms were held in 1881 with 48 attending in Van Buren and 65 enrolling at Fort Kent. The total attendance of 113 marked an increase of 17 over the previous year. There were no textbook changes for existing courses, but Greenleaf's Elementary Algebra and Steele's Fourteen Weeks in Philosophy were adopted for the two new courses in algebra and philosophy. Cyr again reported good daily attendance and "little difficulty in going forward with their English studies."

Cyr's recommendation of the previous year was put into effect. New students were "subjected to an examination upon entering," and this, he judged, "made up a class better fitted for the work." One result was, he said, "there has not been so great a demand for primary work as heretofore." He looked forward to the first graduation. At the end of the next 20 week session at Fort Kent a class of six would "complete the studies and be ready to graduate." Four of the six, he noted, were French and "understood little or no English when they entered four years ago." By contrast, "they now speak the language fluently and intelligently.'' Cyr hoped these prospective graduates would soon be gainfully employed. He suggested to Luce, "could the law be so arranged that the graduates would be the chosen teachers, the influence of the Training School would be greatly increased and soon felt in all parts of the territory."

The school calendar remained unchanged at M.T.S. in 1882. Attendance dropped slightly (Fort Kent, 53; Van Buren, 48). Physics was added to the curriculum and the text by Steele adopted. School libraries were started in both Fort Kent and Van Buren, with "pupils and parents... receiving the benefits of choice literature." Principal Cyr observed, "General PROGRESS is now being made, and it is hoped that NO ACTION of the State will retard it." He noted proudly that all of the first graduating class, eight instead of the six he projected in an earlier report, "taught during the past year and acquitted themselves with honor."

That first class consisted of Theodore Bouchard, Marion Cyr, Remi Daigle, Cora P. Dickey, Jane M. Farrell, Ozite Landrie (sic), Cassius A. Scars and Michel Therriault. This class evidently listened to Horace Greely's abmonition to go West. Two years later three of the class were living in Minnesota and one in Montana. Ozite Landrie, now Mrs. Fred Mallett, was located in Minneapolis, Theodore Bouchard resided in St. Paul, and Remi Daigle was at Watertown, Minnesota. "Mike" Therriault was then making his home in Missoula, Montana. Cora Dickey and Marion Cyr remained in Fort Kent. Jane M. Farrell, married to Alexis Vasseur (sic), was in nearby Grand Isle. Cassius A. Sears was attending the State College in Orono. It is not clear from an account of the 1882 class, contained in the M.T.S. catalog for 1884, how many of the first graduating class were still actually teaching, regardless of their location.

The State Superintendent of Common Schools reviewed the five year history of the Madawaska Training School in his annual report for 1883. A good deal of the success of the school he credited to Vetal Cyr. A man" 'to the manner born' of the people among whom he had labored," Cyr understood, the people, of all ages, with whom he was working. "His intimate knowledge of the peculiar character of the people of that section, and of the special needs of their schools, his acquaintance with the art and science of teaching acquired by previous experience and study, and his special natural adaptation to the work, have enabled him to fashion the course of study and methods of instruction as to make its work at the same time popular and in the highest degree effective." The Superintendent had similar praise for Miss Nowland, Cyr's assistant. Moreover, he went on, "Both have labored with unremitting zeal, notwithstanding the comparatively meager salaries which they have received previous to the current year." Although the legislature had increased its annual appropriation from $1,000 to $1,300 the preceding winter, he felt this "did but scant and tardy justice to them."

By 1883 the course of study at M.T.S. was set at two years of 40 weeks each. Eight more students were graduated that year: Frank Austin, Mary Brown, Mattie Cyr, Thalie Daigle, Mae G. Maley, Elodie Marquis, Marie Michaud and Hattie Stevens. A year later, Mary Brown (Mrs. Michel Michaud) was living in Frenchville. Two of her classmates, Thalie Daigle and Hattie Stevens, were located in Fort Kent, Marie Michaud was in Wallagrass and Elodie Marquis was in Caribou. Frank Austin had gone to Orono, and Mattie Cyr was now in Great Fails, N.H. Another dozen were scheduled for graduation in March, 1884.

With the growing number of graduates, the school's impact was beginning to spread, and happily so, as far as Mr. Luce was concerned. "The effect of the school upon the educational interests of the section for whose benefit it was established, has been all and more than was hoped for even." He was perhaps even overly enthusiastic about the results to date. "The change its has wrought in the condition of the common schools, nearly all of which are now taught by its pupils or graduates, is almost marvelous." The money spent on improving education in this part of northern Maine, he said, had been a good investment of tax dollars. "To-day, because of what the school has done and is doing, the State's benefactions so generously bestowed upon the section for the support of common schools, have ceased to be as water poured into a sieve, as was formerly the case and are now as good seed sown in fertile soil."

Another $1,300 was appropriated by the legislature for the 1884 school year at Madawaska Training School, but it was not long before this was "fully expended." The State Superintendent complained that the annual appropriations were "too small," and allowed no margin for extraordinary calls," such as "making of any additions to the libraries or apparatus of the schools." Unless regular appropriations for the Normal Schools, which included M.T.S., were increased to at least $20,000, he prophesied, special appropriations, "which are even now sorely needed will soon have to be made..."

A larger number of males attended the two terms of twelve weeks each held in Fort Kent and one term of sixteen weeks held in Grand Isle in 1884. Fifteen of the fifty-seven enrolled at Fort Kent were "gentlemen," and the men actually outnumbered the "ladies" thirteen to nine at the session held in Grand Isle: Total enrollment for the year, male and female, was ninety-two.

"A large gathering of the people coming from every town in the territory above Van Buren" attended the graduation ceremonies held under the supervision of the State Superintendent at the close of the second term in Fort Kent in 1884. Those graduating were: Essey L. Brown, Olive M. Cyr, Alphonse Cyr, Josephine Daigle, Meddie Daigle, Elise Dionne, Lillie J. Dowries, Euphemie Pelletier, Edithe Pinette, Denise Sirois, Thomas Scars and Marc Vaillan-court. Half of the class claimed Fort Kent as their residence, two were from Madawaska, and one each came from Eagle Lake, Grand Isle and Caribou. This brought the total number of graduates to twenty-eight, and it is interesting to note that all but three of these had graduated from the Fort Kent branch of the Madawaska Training School.

The school serving the "lower section of the territory" was moved from Van Buren to Grand Isle in 1884 by the order of the State Superintendent acting for the Trustees of the Normal Schools. The Superintendent said that this move promises to increase its (M.T.S.'s) usefulness." The people in Grand Isle were already "showing a warm interest in its success and stand ready to furnish every facility for its work." The town's citizens had "expended a considerable sum in fitting up the school-house for its reception." And, if they could "be sure of its continuance among them," the Trustees of the Normal Schools were assured Grand Isle would "cheerfully do more in the same direction." The initial enrollment at Grand Isle pleased all concerned. "The attendance...has been larger than was expected, larger than the last term at Van Buren, and promises to be even larger in the future." There may have been additional reasons for the change of site from Van Buren to Grand Isle. In his annual report Principal Vetal Cyr said, "There seem to be here (Grand Isle) no influences unfavorable to the school, unlike the conditions at Van Buren during the last term there, where certain hostile influences affected it to a marked degree, which fact I presume, was the cause of its removal from that place."

Cyr, "to answer what seems to be a local need," modified the curriculum at M.T.S. to provide for the teaching of the "rudiments of French as written and spoken by the cultivated." This change was initiated at Grand Isle by Cyr lmself. An hour a day was devoted to French. The class translated their English reading lessons into French, and Principal Cyr "explained and illustrated the principles of French grammar" through these translations. As a result, the class "did excellent work, not only to the end of learning the French, but also of getting a further knowledge of the English by the method." Although textbooks remained the same, they were supplemented by "constant and much oral instruction."

Students were restricted by a minimum number of regulations at M.T.S. in 1884. Entrance exams were given on the first day of each term, and every student had to declare his, or her, intention of remaining a full term. No student could be admitted, other than at the beginning of each term, "unless satisfactory reason be given for the delay." A pupil could not leave school at any time besides the end of the term without giving "reasons satisfactory to the Principal." If not excused by the Principal, the pupil concerned forfeited his right to return. The attendance policy was open to individual interpretation. "Absence from school or tardiness is not permitted when avoidable." Students were expected to be in their rooms, or at home, during appointed study hours, and during those hours they were restricted to "quiet study." All pupils had to "duly observe" any "requirements and suggestions" made by their instructors in regard to deportment, as well as study habits.

Vetal Cyr had nothing but praise for the performance of his students that academic year. Everything had been "successful up to the full measure to be expected." The student body had been made up of the "best material in the territory," and as expected had been "earnest and zealous" in their work. From the Principal's viewpoint, they had been "remarkably prompt and regular in attendance, and in deportment all that could be desired." Because of students such as these, Cyr said, M.T.S. had "Grown in usefulness and popularity, and the outlook for the future is bright with promise of still better things."

Attendance hit a new high in 1885. Sixty-four registered at Fort Kent and another fifty at Grand Isle, for a total of 114. Cyr attributed at least part of the increase to the enthusiasm of the inhabitants at Grand Isle. The people there had shown they were "deeply interested" in the school and were "doing all in their power to secure its continuance there." "Extensive repairs" had been made on the Grand Isle school-house, and a "large and pleasant classroom had been fitted out in the upper story. It was now hoped that the building would be "very comfortable," in terms of room for expansion, for "several years." There were no curriculum or textbook changes that year. Accordingly, the "WORK of the school" was performed "very nearly in the same manner as that of previous years." With the addition of "several volumes of choice literature," the school library collection numbered 120 volumes. Money for the purchase of books was supplemented by "levying a small amount upon each pupil" and from "school exhibitions occasionally given." More and more students were showing their interest in "general reading" by checking out books on Friday afternoons.

There was no graduating class in 1885, and there were only seven graduates in the fourth class, that of 1886: Lucie Albert, Edithe Cyr, Modeste Martin, Mary McClean, Josephine Paradis, Mary J. Sweeney and Joseph F. Cyr. Again, all were from the St. John Valley, with two each from Fort Kent and St. Francis, and single students from Madawaska, Frenchville and Van Buren. The school year had opened on September 21, 1885 at Fort Kent, where consecutive terms of twelve and ten weeks were held. The term at Grand Isle lasted eighteen weeks. Fifty-five had attended in Fort Kent, and the Grand Isle enrollment was forty-six. The State Superintendent again personally handed out the diplomas. Madawaska Training School had now contributed thirty-five graduates to the teaching force in northern Maine.

A "School Committee" in Fort Kent recommended a change in readers for the Training School, and the Swinton Readers were introduced, providing "excellent satisfaction.'' For the first time, Principal Cyr broached the subject of crowded conditions at the Fort Kent site. The district school house then being used was described by Cyr as "small and cold." He told the Trustees that "many" pupils were being refused every year "for the want of suitable accommodations." "No changes or repairs" had been made "about the school buildings." In summary Cyr said, "At Fort Kent a new school-house is much needed," and he "greatly hoped that the State will do something for this school very soon in the way of buildings." Cyr implied that such help from the State was warranted by the school's record in placing its thirty-five graduates, who, as he proudly noted, "not only find ready employment as teachers in this territory, but while some have proved successful teachers in different parts of this State, others have made themselves useful as such in the West."

The State Superintendent of Common Schools evidently agreed with Vetal Cyr, for he recommended in his list of special needs for the coming year "such legislation as will permanently locate this school at Fort Kent, and will provide for its suitable accommodation." He began his argument for such legislation by tracing the accomplishments of the school to date. "Since it began its work it has fully proved its right to be, in practically revolutionizing the common schools of the section in whose interests it was established." The "peculiar conditions" that had led to the establishment of M.T.S., he remarked, "still exist to such extent that without its continued work the common schools would rapidly relapse to something of their old inefficiency."

While there was no longer a question of the school being "a permanent need of the section," he continued, "conditions have so changed that its management needs modification." It was now time to give M.T.S. "a local habitation by permanently locating it in Fort Kent, the most eligible location for it." But, the former practice of holding the sessions in the village school house (especially because this could only be done "at such times as the common school there was not in session") would not suffice for the future. "Building for it must, therefore be erected at the expense of the State." A sum of $1,500 for the building was suggested, as well as "a small sum additional to that now annually appropriated" for the "heating and care" of a new building.

The following year the legislature did provide money for the erection of a new building to house the Madawaska Training School in Fort Kent on a permanent basis. Actual construction, however, was delayed. Miss Nowland was granted a leave of absence from Grand Isle, and Vetal Cyr continued as the only teacher while waiting for the new building in Fort Kent to be completed. Twenty students registered for the term in Grand Isle in 1887, compared to fifty who attended the two terms in Fort Kent. Cyr pointed out that the "deep snows" that winter had "little effect in keeping pupils out of school," and "interest" on the part of the students at Fort Kent was "never better." Looking ahead, he said, "By the erection of the new school building at Fort Kent, the present usefulness of the training school cannot fail of being greatly increased." He did express the hope that the curriculum could be "expanded and see what changes may profitably be made."

Cyr's annual report to the Trustees of the State Normal Schools in 188 indicated some changes made. The legislative act of 1887 had deprived M.T.S. "of its 'wheels,'" by locating it permanently in Fort Kent. The school year was shortened to eight months, instead of the usual ten. The school year was divided into two sixteen-week terms, with a "vacation of two weeks during the holidays." The first term ran from September 6th to December 22nd, and the second term opened January 9th and closed on April 26th. Girls outnumbered the boys attending by about three to one. Total attendance was only fifty, but Vetal Cyr explained, "The school, being now stationary, cannot reach as many different pupils as it did when it was traveling about the territory." Yet, average attendance for the year had been good, and student interest "never better."

The fifth class to graduate from Madawaska Training School reflected the change to a permanent site. Four of the seven graduates were from Fort Kent. The other three claimed residence in Wallagrass, St. John Plantation and Madawaska. Class members were: Madelaine Cyr, Edithe Daigle, Sophie Daigle, Vlarise Labe, Josephine Michaud, Pauline Pelletier and Vincent Theriault. This brought the total number of graduates to forty-two. Obtaining a job then was no problem. "All find ready employment as teachers here and elsewhere." This class had the advantage of taking a course in school laws of Maine, recently added to the curriculum.

The catalog and circular of the Madawaska Training School for 1888 advertised the benefits expected from the new facilities at Fort Kent. "A Building for its occupancy has been erected, and it will begin its next school year under conditions which promise increased efficiency and power for good." Pricipal Cyr echoed these sentiments, saying in December, 1888, "The new building is sufficiently completed to be occupied, and the school opened its present term in it under the most favorable conditions and with a larger actual attendance than of any previous year." Cyr cautiously recommended another appropriation request. "The school needs a LITTLE more money from the State to make the building and its surroundings comfortable and attractive." He expressed confidence that "This money will of course be granted by the next legislature."

Cyr's confidence was inspired by the support given him by the State Superintendent. Well aware of the "fiscal expectancies" of the state legislature, the Superintendent reminded its members that the new building at Fort Kent was "planned and carried forward to completion with constant reference to keeping the expenditure therefore within the amount available for the purpose." He noted that the M.T.S. building was "large enough for the immediate, but not for the prospective needs of the school." The original plans included provision for enlarging the building "at the least possible cost." The State Superintendent then made his bid for additional funds in two steps. "To enlarge it at once would be, however, good policy. The sum of $600 would put on the necessary addition, and in the building so enlarged accommodations could be provided for a needed model department." The finishing touches called for by Principal Cyr (painting inside and out, a bell tower and a bell, grading and fencing the grounds), he felt would bring the additional appropriation request for M.T.S. to $1500.

The Maine legislature responded with a special appropriation of $600 for "sundry improvements upon the buildings and grounds of the Madawaska Training School." Approximately another $100 was squeezed out of another appropriation. With this money a belfry was added. Provision was made for a small library and "apparatus room" in the base of the belfry. A bell was ordered, as well as a fancy weather vane for the top of the belfry. "Settees" were purchased for the recitation room. The main part of the building was painted inside and out. Plank walks were laid to both entrances, and the school lot was fenced in. Vetal Cyr was pleased. "The new building is comfortable, and when the contemplated additions are made the rooms will be very pleasant."

Attendance for the 1888-1889 school year was the largest in the history of the school at Fort Kent, 65. The same textbooks were in use, but "several good works of reference" were available at the teachers' desks for "general use." However, more books were needed. "A taste for reading is being cultivated among the pupils, and the little private library is not sufficient to supply the present demand." Cyr hoped that "something may be done in order to furnish the school with more reading matter." Through private donations and "fees resulting from school entertainments,'' M.T.S. was able to buy a "fine organ" and have it placed in the school-room.

Fifty-nine students registered for the fall term in 1889, and sixty-eight enrolled the following spring. Again, there were no text-book changes, but "several good books of reference" were added to the library, including a set of encyclopedias presented by N.A. Luce, Maine's Superintendent of Common Schools. The pupils raised money to buy a school-room clock, and private subscriptions paid for a flag, which was "unfurled to the breeze every pleasant day." Miss Mary Nowland was on leave of absence for the year, and Miss Carrie Nowland "filled the position doing efficient work." Principal Cyr made his usual favorable comments. "General good health prevailed among the pupils and teachers, all working earnestly, and endeavoring to carry out the design of the school."

Vetal Cyr made his first serious attempt to acquire state money for a boarding house in his spring report in 1890. The recitation room was becoming too small, considering the "increasing attendance." Besides, Cyr correctly observed, "Many teachers from distant towns cannot secure beard or lodging within proper distance of the school." Therefore, he concluded, "a boarding house near the school seems a necessity in order to increase or even maintain the present attendance."

The graduating class of 1890, the sixth on record, consisted of Mattie G. Cunliffe, Jessie B. Dickey, Emma Marquis, Delia Pinette, Lula Savage, Marguerite Violette and Francis Corneault. Five were living in Fort Kent, one in St. John Plantation and another in Great Falls, New Hampshire, two years later. At that time four were listed as teaching, two classified themselves as housewives, and Francis Corneault categorized himself as a "merchant clerk."

The 1890 graduates were well aware that M.T.S. needed expanded facilities, and were pleased that the State Superintendent recommended to the state legislature that $5,000 be appropriated for building a boarding house. The Superintendent made a good argument for his case. He began by saying, "No school in the state is doing more important and valuable work than (M.T.S.), and none is growing more rapidly." Since its permanent location in Fort Kent and the erection of a building there, the attendance had "so largely increased" that the school was "already over-crowded." He reminded the legislators that the building, because of provision for such in the original plans, could be "readily and cheaply enlarged." Now was the time. "Such enlargement is our immediate necessity."

Although the "facilities for boarding seemed ample" in the beginning, "many" students were "unable to attend" in 1889. And, the space problem was likely to become even more serious. The Superintendent explained why. "Owing to the opening of a railroad to the town and the conditions consequent thereto, the present lack of facilities is almost certain to become greater." If the Training School was going to do the task it was assigned, room would have to be provided, and soon. "There is imperative need," the State Superintendent argued, "that adequate facilities for board of students shall in some way be made secure. This can be done only by establishing a boarding-house under control of those having charge of the school." Not one to suggest halfway measures, the Superintendent estimated that for $5,000 a boarding house could be erected, plus enlarge the existing building "sufficiently to meet the growing needs of the school."

There was a larger number of males in attendance at Madawaska Training School during the next academic year, forty-five out of the 109 registered. Miss Mary Nowland had returned from her leave of absence and was "doing her usual efficient work." "Entertainment by the school" raised funds for "a considerable addition of choice literature" to the library. "These additions," Vetal Cyr complained, "must necessarily be made slowly" because of inadequate funds. This was especially unfortunate, in Cyr's eyes, because "The library is a source whence the pupils derive much benefit." We wished the state would provide free text-books. That would not only be "a great advantage to the school." It would also release funds to acquire "Some apparatus with which to help illustrate the principles of physics," which he felt had become "almost a necessity." With the addition of three dozen music books and the Normal Music Chart, music "formed one of the daily exercises of the school."

The State Superintendent of Common Schools had proudly announced the Maine state legislature's approval of his request for $5,000 for a boarding house at Fort Kent. Despite the fact that work had begun as "early as practicable'' it was not finished "in season for opening it to students for the current school year." The Superintendent judged the building to be, even in its unfinished state, "convenient in arrangements and sufficiently commodious for the accommodation of forty to fifty students. The contractor had stayed within the appropriation to date, but the inside painting was still undone. Vetal Cyr was satisfied with the quality of the work accomplished. "The work on the new boarding house is progressing finely and being thoroughly done." He regretted that it could not be completed for the coming winter, but, as he said, "we hope that the school will not long be deprived of the pleasant accommodations which it promises." Cyr felt that fifty to sixty pupils, that is more than the State Superintendent estimated, could be "lodged" in the finished building.

The new boarding house was still not ready for occupancy when the fall term opened in 1891. Only thirty pupils were registered at the beginning of the year. Although this number increased to fifty-seven by the end of the first term, and "the whole attendance during the year was sixty-four, prospective students had to be turned away because of the lack of space. In Principal Cyr's words, "This was a great drawback on the attendance, for it is very difficult now to obtain lodgings in the vicinity of the school." For example, "TWENTY SCHOLARS - besides a family,- each doing separate cooking on one small cooking stove" were crowded into one rooming house designed to hold, at most, nine or ten persons. And, Cyr recorded, "It was not an uncommon occurrence for some of them to return to school for the afternoon session without any dinner." He repeated his plea for additional legislative funds. "It is hoped that the amount of money so necessary to render the building fit for occupancy, will be appropriated by the next legislature." Cyr was looking forward to a finished "school-room having a seating capacity for ONE HUNDRED pupils...."

The legislature received a similar plea from the State Superintendent of Common Schools. The boarding house still needed painting inside and "to be plainly furnished in order that it be made available." There was "pressing need" for this, he said. As in his previous report, he asked for monies to enlarge the school itself "to meet the exceptional increase in the number of students applying for admission." There were seventy-two students then crowded into the building originally planned for sixty. Some of the younger pupils had to be turned away to make room for older ones. Others had been refused admission. "Had it been possible to keep and receive all desiring to attend," he claimed, "the attendance would have been about one hundred." To him, the "State cannot afford to long ignore the demands made upon the school for larger accommodations.''

There were only six graduates in the class of 1892. Five of them, Edithe Beaulieu, Lizzie Bellefleur, Marie Daigle, Amanda Sinclair, and Emma Thibodeau, went directly into teaching. It is not clear whether the other member of the class, Mrs. J.A. Laliberte, the former Isabelle Sweeney, was employed in the classroom or not the following fall. A total of fifty-five Valley residents had now graduated from M.T.S.. Although the number of males attending the Training School was increasing every year, Vetal Cyr complained because "few young men complete the course and are graduated." He was not sure if the explanation was the "necessity or a desire to earn money." More likely he thought, it was "due to circumstances and the lack of remunerative opportunities in this locality for educated young men." Cyr recognized the economic facts of life in northern Maine. "The leading occupation being lumbering, the boys follow the impulse and remain in school only until they are sufficiently large and strong to work in the woods." The establishment of winter schools would help to correct this. As Cyr saw it, "This regretted evil will no doubt remedy itself in time - when our school system is carried on under more favorable conditions - when winter schools can be maintained, young men to teach in them will be necessary, and the desire on their part for a better education will be increased accordingly." Hopefully, more than eleven of the next fifty-five graduates would be males.

Vetal Cyr's report to the trustees of the Normal Schools in the spring of 1894 covered statistics for two years, instead of the usual one. Thirty-five of the seventy-five pupils attending M.T.S. in 1892-1893 had had experience in teaching. The following year, 1893-1894, total enrollment increased to eighty-eight, thirty-nine of whom were males. Fourteen graduated on May 10, 1894: Ethel M. Bradbury, Xavier A. Cyr, Albert Currier, Isaie Daigle, Mary L. Pinette, Sophie M. Pinette, Alexis Robbins, Nathaniel B. Savage, Evelina M. Therriault, Fred W. Therriault, Mattie S. Wheelock and Bruce R. Ward. Of these, eight were from Fort Kent, two from St. Francis and one each from Madawaska, Grand Isle, Seven Islands and Caribou. Ten in the class were listed as teachers. Two were farmers and the class included a merchant clerk and a band master. Superintendent Luce was on hand to present the diplomas.

Cyr reported that his pupils had been "attentive, studious and ready to obey all the regulations of the school." "At no period," he claimed, "has better work been accomplished." He attributed the "greatly increased" attendance and interest to the completing of the new facilities, which included a "fine" school room and recitation rooms. These, he felt, had "added much to the convenience and comfort of both pupils and teachers." The school library now numbered about two hundred volumes, but many of these were "getting worn out and must soon be replaced by new ones." It was clearly evident, said Cyr, that "the library is too small for the demand." One answer was for the "friends of the school" to "confer a great benefit upon the institution by making donations to its library." Secondly, "It is hoped that the State will grant us something in this direction."

Cyr, however, was satisfied with the school's supply of charts, maps and globes, and these, plus the furniture, were in good condition. The hall on the second story of the school house and the outside of the school house still needed a coat of paint, but the grounds had been graded and fenced. "Ornamental" trees for the grounds were on order. There were some definite needs though; the "great and immediate one" being an adequate "WATER SUPPLY." During the winter all the water used in the boarding house had to be hauled a half mile from the river. The regular .attendance of the school had nearly doubled within two years. Two teachers were now "insufficient to do the work." Therefore, Cyr suggested that another teacher be added the following fall. "With three teachers the school will be in a condition to do most efficient work." He knew the legislature might become tired of special requests for the Training School, so he couched his appeal as diplomatically as possible. "The State has been so generous towards the school since our last report that it would seem we might be satisfied, but all these new and fine buildings have attracted scholars," that is numbers made it necessary to hire an additional faculty member.

Superintendent Luce described the improvements made at Fort Kent in minute detail in his annual report. The lower story of the new building, "attached to the old building as an ell," contained an "elegant 40 by fifty foot school-room, a twenty by twenty foot recitation room, a twenty by fifteen foot recitation room, a twenty by thirty foot model school room, two "commodious" dressing rooms, and a large stairway leading to the upper story. All the rooms, except the model school room, were furnished in native spruce and the walls painted in "neutral tints." Modern desks and chairs were provided throughout, and the main school room alone would seat 108 students.

Upstairs was a fifty by fifty foot hall, "with necessary ante-rooms." Fuel for the two furnaces was stored in the basement. Luce estimated it would take an additional $600 to "complete and furnish" the building. Most of the work had been completed by October, 1893. The special $8,000 appropriation to cover the cost of the building had been divided equally, $4,000 being made available in 1893, and the other $4,000 the following year. Water closets in the basement ("with necessary apparatus and sewerage"), storm windows, walks and a 500 pound bell were purchased under this appropriation. The boarding house was sufficiently complete to be "opened to students" at the beginning of the school year, 1893-1894.

In return for this investment, Luce told the taxpayers, "The State has now at Fort Kent, for the use and benefit of the Training School, buildings and grounds which are highly creditable in appearance, fully adapted to the needs of the school, and a source of pride to the people of all that section of the State." The "wise and liberal policy of the State" had provided the funds for creating the facilities that had enabled the Madawaska Training School to attract an ever-increasing number of students (from sixty-four in 1891-1892 to eighty-eight in 1893-1894).

"Notwithstanding the liberality with which the State has met the pressing needs of the Normal and Training schools in the last ten years, by making appropriations for improvements,'' Superintendent Luce explained, "there are yet needs existing which must be met with other appropriations.'' The "immediate and pressing needs" could be covered by "large appropriations." The "less immediately pressing needs" called for "smaller appropriations.'' Trying to convince the legislature to take favorable action, Luce pointed out that to "meet them (the pressing needs) at once would be in the line of a wise economy." For Fort Kent he recommended finishing and furnishing the hall and model school room in the school building and purchasing additional land to allow for expansion. Like Cyr, he called for "some arrangement for a sufficient water supply," for both buildings. The school building needed another coat of paint the next year. He also felt M.T.S. ought "to be furnished with some apparatus for science teaching." He figured these needs could be met with a $2,000 appropriation spread equally over the next two years. Enough of the state's money had already been invested in the normal schools at Farmington, Castine and Gorham and the Training School at Fort Kent to warrant covering all these "school properties" with adequate insurance. Although he set no figure, Luce suggested that this be taken care of by a separate appropriation.

Superintendent Luce also presented an argument for increasing the regular annual appropriation for both the normal and training schools. In the case of Fort Kent he maintained that increased support was needed to carry out the mission of the school - to provide teachers who could "speak, read and write the English with correctness and facility." "All this work had to be done," he noted, and "the school buildings...heated and cared for," on only $1,600 per year. Only two teachers could be hired within the amount available, and as Principal Cyr had already demonstrated, the present enrollment indicated the need for an additional teacher. To accomplish this, Luce asked the legislature to increase the regular annual appropriation to at least $2,000. For that matter, Luce went on, "there is no good reason why the amount necessary for the running expenses of this school should not be included in the annual appropriation for Normal schools." As he correctly recorded, "It is to all intents and purposes a Normal school," and all four schools "should now be put on equal footing in this regard."

Luce ended his annual report with a list of specific recommendations, two of which applied directly to M.T.S. His third recommendation read as follows: "That the sum of $2,000 be appropriated for finishing and furnishing the hall and model-school room, for repainting the school building, and for enlarging the grounds and procuring a water supply for the Training School at Fort Kent." His last recommendation was "that the separate appropriation for the Training School be discontinued and that the amount necessary therefore be included in the general appropriation for the support of Normal schools." Probably he realized that he was asking for too much at one time.

Most likely students attending Madawaska Training School on 1893-1894 were more interested in their personal costs than in considering the annual budget of the entire school. Those staying at the boarding house (thirty) paid no rent per se, but they did have to bear their proportionate share of "HEATING, LIGHTING and supplying their house with water," an equivalent of $1.50 per month. The rooms at the boarding house were designed to accommodate four students each. Each student room was furnished with "CHAIRS, TABLES, COMMODES, BUREAUS, BED-STEADS, MATTRESSES, MIRRORS and CURTAINS." The students had to bring "all other necessaries." Instate students paid no tuition, and even those from the Canadian Provinces paid only twenty-five cents per week. Text books were obtained "at cost" from the principal, and all students paid "an incidental fee of $1" for each year they attended. The Training School was providing an inexpensive education.

The Maine legislature did not see fit to follow all suggestions made by Principal Cyr and Superintendent Luce. Money was not provided for a third teacher, but Cyr was not discouraged and repeated his request for a third instructor in his spring report for 1895. Only with an additional teacher, Cyr said, could the school "give justice to every department." Numbers seemed to support his request. Ninety one different pupils attended M.T.S. during the year, eighty in the first term, eighty-six in the second, and the teaching load was borne by Cyr and Mary P. Nowland.

The 1895 legislature did make a special appropriation of $2,000 for repairs on the school building at Fort Kent. A building committee report indicated how this money was spent: an additional story was built on the original building. A recitation room was finished, as was "a large, handsome and attractive" hall, "...with wainscoting and substantial finish around doors and windows." A large stage with anterooms was added, and 250 chairs supplied for the hall. Besides being used for "general exercises," the hall was to go open to "all entertainments and public meetings eon-netted with the school." Still more money would be needed, however, for manual training was being taught in "a large UNFINISHED room."

Principal Cyr acknowledged the improvements made under the special appropriation, but he saw some remaining needs. True, he admitted, the boarding house had received "a good coat of paint" the preceding summer and would be "all right for a few years," but the school house itself needed a second coat of paint. Equipment money was needed, preferably on an on-going annual basis. "The school has no apparatus of any kind; a supply is greatly needed in the illustration of physical principles." Also, more money was needed for acquisition of books for the library, the size of which, he again noted, was "not sufficient for the growing demand as the scholars are fast cultivating a taste for reading."

Cyr made out a list of five "great needs of the school:" enlarging the grounds, finishing and furnishing the hall, finishing and furnishing the model school room, furnishing the boarding house with an adequate supply of water, and furnishing the steward with a small stable. Some of these needs would "receive attention" through the appropriation made by the last legislature. It seemed practicable to take care of the most pressing needs first. In terms of priorities Cyr recommended that the grounds "be enlarged at once, as the opportunities to do so are limited, and the future prosperity of the school will depend largely upon it. Then the hall "should come next in your consideration," and to complete the list, "the means of supplying water and model room." If necessary, the last items in the list could "wait for another appropriation." Although annual reports of the State Superintendent do not provide details on salaries, both Vetal Cyr and Miss Nowland evidently received an increase in wages that year. In concluding his annual report in the spring of 1895 Cyr stated, "I believe more firmly than ever that this school has made and is making a great educational stir in this section of the State and will richly pay the State for its fostering care, in giving it good citizens, capable of speaking and transacting business intelligently both in French and English."

Enrollment at M.T.S. increased by thirty students the following year. There were 117 different students registered. Ninety-seven attended the fall term, and 108 the winter and spring terms. Miss Sophia Pinette, a graduate of the Training School, was temporarily placed in charge of the preparatory classes, and the school catalog for 1895-1896 indicates that Miss Laura E. Crockett joined Mr. Cyr and Miss Nowland as part of the instructional staff. Although satisfied with Miss Pinette's work, Principal Cyr recommended that a teacher "trained in an older normal school," be placed in charge of the preparatory department on a permanent basis. Some "special needs" remained. "We need something more to make these buildings complete...and to afford to the young people who are being educated here the greatest possible advantages." Cyr also repeated his request for library aid. "I have called the attention of the trustees to the needs of the small library, for the past fifteen years, yet no action on their part to better the conditions, is taken." He felt his annual appeal was both modest and warranted. "If it be within the range of possibility to add a few good books of reference, with some biographical and literary works, it would afford the teachers and pupils a great source of information and pleasure." The normal school trustees only recommended "enlarging the lot and making necessary repairs at Fort Kent."

There were eighteen students in the graduating class of 1896, bringing the total number of graduates to eighty-seven. Those in the class were: Raymond P. Albert, Marie B. Cyr, Caroline Dionne, Lizzie J. Freeman, Germain R. Dionne, Denis B. Martin, Arehile M. Miehaud, Philomen Miehaud, Joseph C. Morin, Meddie L. Pelletier, Ozite P. Pelletier, Arthur P. Pinette, Jennie Pratt, Flora B. Robbins, Omar J. Robbins, Nelson D. Sinclair, Henry W. Therriault, Remi Thibodeau. All were from the St. John Valley (Fort Kent, 6; Madawaska, 4; St. Francis, 3; Wallagrass, 2; Eagle Lake, Allagash and Grand Isle, one each). Cyr noted "the large increase in the attendance of young men from year to year and the number graduating." This led him to believe "more firmly than ever that the results of this school are paying the State a high rate of interest on all the money invested here." Moreover, Cyr said, "when these young people become the active citizens in this part of the State that interest will become compounded.'' At least fifteen of the eighteen graduating that year were, or became, teachers.

Attendance was again over the one hundred mark in 1897: fall term, 92; winter and spring term, 102; and different pupils during the year, 111. Vetal Cyr spoke in "hearty commendation" of the new assistant teacher Miss Louisa Crockett, who worked with Miss Nowland in the first term, and Miss Rose A. Coney, who assisted during the second term. The perennial request was made for library support. The state did pay for the addition of a "highly prized" set of History for Reading Reference, but works on "Methods of Teaching, Didactics, etc., for professional reading" were still "badly needed." Cyr thanked the last legislature for its "generous" appropriation, which was used to furnish the boarding house, purchase an air motor to pump water from the river, enlarge the grounds, finish and furnish the model room and paint the school house.

Cyr used the increase in attendance to justify the request for an additional faculty member. He suggested "a lady teacher well versed in the French language and literature be added to the present corps of teachers." After all, he reminded the trustees, "The design of this school is t educate teachers for the schools in this territory. To educate them in English alone does not qualify them sufficiently.'' It was obvious, at least to Cyr, that "There is need for a regular course in French, including reading, language and grammar, translation and literature, and a teacher especially fitted to teach those branches placed in charge of it." Without such an instructor there was the possibility that the students would seek "those advantages" in "neighboring schools."

The whole numbering graduating from Madawaska Training School reached one hundred with the tenth class, the class of 1897. The twelve class members were: Catherine Albert, J. Harvey Collins, Deliria M. Cote, Alice M. Cyr, Joseph C. Martin, Clara Michaud, George A. Michaud, Theodula Morin, Michel Ouellette, Fortuna W. Pelletier, Elodie Pinette, Lucie A. Thibodeau. Fortuna Pelletier, a clerk in Madawaska, and J. Harvey Collins, no occupation listed, were the only members of the class not listed as teachers. The class represented the Valley towns of Fort Kent, St. John Plantation, Frenchville and Wallagrass.

The State Superintendent of Common Schools had visited the schools of northeastern Maine for three years in a row "for the purpose of learning their condition and devising means for their improvement." A history of what he found is contained in his annual report for 1897. After tracing the "origin and character" of the Acadians in northern Maine, he outlined the educational history of the region. In 1895, he wrote, there were 118 schools maintained by the fifteen towns and plantations in the region. These schools were attended by 3,690 pupils. Of the 118 schools, thirty-two were taught by graduates of M.T.S., and the most of the remaining schools were taught by "the more advanced students of that school." He was "exceedingly pleased with the specimens of work from the several schools" exhibited at a teachers meeting held in Fort Kent in the fall of 1896. The Superintendent attributed the educational advances in northern Maine to "the influence of the Training School as one of the forces promotive of educational progress among the people."

The influence of M.T.S., the Superintendent pointed out, had not been "exerted through the teachers alone who had gone from it into the common schools." True, he continued, "The fact of its existence has been a constantly acting force." WHY? "That such a school was accessible to the poorest boy or girl in the territory who would prepare in the common schools for admission to it, has aroused the ambition of the children, and their parents for them, for more than the home school could give, and has, at the same time, compelled the home school to do better work." One could see "In nearly every section of the territory there are homes made by those who have been graduated from it," and those homes were "centers of educational interest and sources of educational influence."

Madawaska Training School had made its influence felt in the St. John Valley both directly and indirectly. "It is not too much to say that the influence emanating from the Training School in...indirect ways, has been only second in force to that exerted by it more directly through the teachers who have been graduated from it." But, even more indicative of the total impact made by M.T.S. was "One Man's Work," the efforts of Mr. Vetal Cyr.

The governor of the State of Maine was scheduled to visit the Training School in the fall of 1897. Principal Cyr was supposed to "dispense the honors of the house" on that occasion but fell ill. Those present exclaimed: "How regrettable that poor Mr. Cyr be deprived of the pleasures of the festivities and the public be deprived of the pleasure of his company !" Eight days after taking sick Cyr died. The Reverend F.X. Burque eulogized the first Principal of Madawaska Training School at the widely attended funeral. For two decades, Burque observed, Cyr had "occupied the position of Principal of this institution, with most admirable skill, tact, courtesy, devotedness, giving the most gratifying satisfaction to the public, in the fulfillment of his difficult and delicate duties, never offending, never deceiving anybody, being always true, sincere, honest and loyal."

Cyr had also served many years as town superintendent of common schools, Burque noted, and in that position had "distinguished himself by the most untiring efforts, the most unselfish labors, the most gentle manners, in fostering the educational advancement of the children." Father Burque repeated the comments made to the Governor just days before. "Among the benefactors who have been most immediately instrumental in bringing about the magnificent educational results we are now noticing and admiring," he said, Vetal Cyr stood foremost. To Burque, Cyr seemed to "live but for his school, for his classes, for his pupils," and was "just as proud of each graduating class as any father could be...." Cyr was "never more delighted" than when he saw in the local schools "the success of the teachers he has formed." As town superintendent he carefully assigned teachers "to the best possible places, to appease parental susceptibilities and to encourage children in a thousand different ways."

M.T.S. had lost a "Principal and a teacher of the highest distinction." The town of Fort Kent had been deprived of a "most able and devoted servant." The "county of Madawaska" was now without "one of its most illustrious sons," and the Catholic church "one of its most faithful members." One of the state's "most noble citizens" had passed away, and everyone in the audience would miss their "cherished friend."

The State Superintendent of Schools had similar praise for the late Mr. Cyr. "Probably no one personality has made itself felt, and always for the good, in so many homes in every town in the Territory as that of Mr. Vetal Cyr." Part of Cyr's success, he felt, had been due to his pleasing personality. "Hearty cheerfulness, his kindliness of manner and his enthusiasm were contagious; and not less so was his interest in the schools everywhere and in the children in the schools. His manner and voice inspired confidence." Many teachers recalled his visits, either alone or with the State Superintendent, to their schools. These visits "carried cheer and courage to teacher and pupils alike." The "diffident trembling teacher dreading the coming of the strange visitor," would be put at ease by Cyr's "cordial, cheery greeting with happy phrase of introduction,'' and that would give her "a self-command which would otherwise have been lacking and have rendered the visit a torture to her and the inspection of her school valueless so far as giving any definite and just idea of its real condition."

The Superintendent sincerely believed that "such a man at the head of such an institution could not fail to be a force for good." Those who knew him best could attest to his real abilities. "How great a force he was will never be fully realized save by the few who knew him and his work thoroughly and had his fullest confidence." From the time "the young Frenchman" took the position as the first principal of M.T.S. he had proven his ability to "organize wisely, build firmly, and direct efficiently the work and influence of the school in which his life work was to be done." The Superintendent echoed the feelings of many in his final evaluation of the career of Vetal Cyr. "The good he wrought will live after him in the larger, better and more fruitful lives of those who have been under his instruction." The man was dead, but his influence lived on. "And while we can but feel that his work was too soon ended, that there was in him the power for further, larger usefulness, that there is needed still in the school and among the people the inspiration of his enthusiasm, the directive force of his intelligence, the influence of his wise advice, and the example of his manliness..." Thus read the eulogy for Vetal Cyr, the man for whom Madawaska Training School had been "the center of his thought and affection and which had stood to him in place of wife and children.., and grown to a lusty strength far beyond his earlier expectations."


That Cyr's "further, larger usefulness" continued was seen in the wording of resolutions passed in his honor by the teachers attending the Northern Maine Summer School in Houlton the following July. The "genial Christian gentleman, with his "warm hearty greeting" and sympathetic manner was gone from their midst. They indicated their respect for Cyr as one the "most painstaking and efficient members" of the teaching profession, and as a man "who had not only a board interest in education in general, but a deep interest in education in general, but a deep interest in the welfare of each individual student who came under his care." They agreed with the conclusions of Burque and the State Superintendent, "That his special adaptation to the position which he filled, because of the bend of sympathy between himself and his people and his success in educating them in the true principles of American citizenship, makes his death a loss to the whole state." Copies of the resolution were sent to Cyr's family and to the State Department of Education to be inserted in the annual report of the State Superintendent. Among the signers of the resolution was Isaie C. Daigle, a 1894 graduate of M.T.S., and superintendent of schools in New Canada at the turn of the century.

R. Grindle