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163rd Anniversary of Webster-Ashburton Treaty to be celebrated at Fort Kent Historic Site and UMFK

July 22, 2005

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On Saturday, August 6 officials from Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec will gather at the site of the Fort Kent Blockhouse and at the University of Maine at Fort Kent to celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which defined the border between the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada.

The Maine Acadian Heritage Council, in partnership with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, caretakers of the Fort Kent historic site, and UMFK, will host the celebration commemorating the official signing of the historic document in 1842.

Planned activities include a social gathering with traditional music and guided blockhouse tours at 4:00 p.m. that will be open to the public. A gala Acadian dinner at 5:30 p.m. will be served at the University of Maine at Fort Kent for invited guests and individuals purchasing tickets in advance.

In recent years, an annual commemorative celebration of the anniversary has been held in alternating years at Fort Petit-Sault in Edmundston, New Brunswick and at Fort Ingall in Cabano, Quebec, both installations, along with Fort Kent, were constructed to defend their respective regions during the "Bloodless Aroostook War".

"I had the opportunity to attend the celebration at Fort Ingall last year and enjoyed it a great deal," said Jason Parent, president of the Maine Acadian Heritage Council and director of university relations at UMFK. "After last year's celebration, I was able to truly appreciate the commonality we have with our friends across the border in both New Brunswick and Quebec. We all too often hear about the differences that arise as a result of living on the international border, but it is refreshing to get together and learn how much we share because of our history. We are looking forward to hosting this event."

Parent is working with MAHC office manager Louise Martin, Ronnie Jandreau of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands and Susan Tardie of UMFK to plan details of the celebration.

Invited guests include local and state officials, as well as representatives of local historical and cultural preservation groups that work in the respective regions of the state and provinces along the international border.

As part of the gala dinner at the University, event keynote speaker UMFK President Richard Cost will deliver an address on the life of Major William Dickey "The Duke of Fort Kent", who was sent to the region to lead the defense effort for Maine during the "Bloodless Aroostook War", which was resolved with the signing of the treaty.

Cost, who has conducted extensive research on the life of Major Dickey, authored a prologue on the man who is considered the "founding father of UMFK", for the university's history book A Century and a Quarter of Progress, which was published last year.

"Like so many others who discovered the beauty of the Valley, both before and after him, Major Dickey was a true champion of the northernmost part of our state and an advocate for the needs of the people who live here. He initiated a tradition of community spirit and involvement that flourishes here today," said Cost.

The upcoming event will mark the date of August 9, 1842, when U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster met with the British Foreign Minister, Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton to sign a treaty, which among other things, clearly defined the border between Maine and New Brunswick, and in the Great Lakes area. The United States received control of 7,015 square miles of the disputed territory and Britain, 5,012 square miles.

Sponsors of the 163rd anniversary celebration include the Maine Acadian Heritage Council, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, University of Maine at Fort Kent, Daigle and Houghton, and ACA Insurance. Businesses and organizations interested in sponsoring the festivities are encouraged to contact Louise Martin at (207) 728-6826.

The public is invited to attend the celebration and tickets for the dinner are $15/person and must be purchased by July 28.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the dinner, please contact Martin at (207) 728-6826.