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September 23, 2011


The University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes will host Goose Lane Editions’ launch of Jacques Poitras’ brilliant new book, Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border, on Wednesday, October 5 at 7 p.m. in the Nadeau Hall Teleconference Room on the UMFK campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Poitras’ appearance at UMFK is perfectly timed since the original undivided Madawaska Territory, known today as Acadia of the Lands and Forests, will host the 2014 World Acadian Congress. Lise Pelletier, director of UMFK’s Acadian Archives, is delighted to welcome such a well-known author and to offer UMFK students, faculty, and the entire St. John Valley community, an opportunity to learn more about their history.
Award-winning author and journalist Jacques Poitras is the author of the controversial Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy. In his latest book, Poitras tackles a stickier subject: the sharp divide along the “longest undefended border.”
Once, a single francophone settlement shared both sides of the Saint John River, until a political trade-off between countries split it down the middle. From that inauspicious start, the Maine-New Brunswick border, the first boundary to be drawn between the two nations, has served as a microcosm for Canada-U.S. relations.
In Imaginary Line, Poitras shows how for centuries, friends, lovers, schemers, and smugglers have successfully reached across the line. Now, post-9/11, mounting political paranoia has led to a sharp divide, disrupting the lives and welfare of nearby residents. An elderly Canadian couple’s driveway touches the border, leading to a Kafkaesque overreaction by Homeland Security; the Tea Party political movement advocates complete border shutdown; and once friendly neighbors have become increasingly isolated from one another.
In this exploration, Poitras travels the length of the Maine-New Brunswick border, to uncover the history and ongoing dispute over an arbitrarily drawn line that shouldn’t be there, almost wasn’t there, and can be difficult to find even when it is there.
The stakes are high as New Brunswick and Maine re-imagine their relationship for the 21st century and communities strive to stay together despite the best efforts of parochial politicians, protectionists, and overzealous border officials.
For further information about Poitras’ appearance at UMFK, please contact the Acadian Archives at 207-834-7535.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                                                         
Jacques Poitras has been Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio's provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000, and has reported on the New Brunswick-Maine relationship since his days as a reporter for the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His journalism has been recognized by the National Newspaper Awards and the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He has appeared on Radio-Canada, National Public Radio, and the BBC. His book Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy was shortlisted for the BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and the National Business Book Award, and won the 2008 Best Atlantic Published Book Award. He also is the author of The Right Fight: Bernard Lord and the Conservative Dilemma. Poitras lives in Fredericton with his wife and their two children.