Le Messager Offices

175 Lincoln St Lewiston

Franco-American Collection
Written By Franco-American Collection

Le Messager Offices: 175 Lincoln St.

Of major importance to Franco-Americans is their language, French, which they kept alive as a community through their churches, schools, and newspapers. Even as recently as 1940, out of all the New England states Maine had the second largest number of people whose mother tongue was French. Lewiston’s Franco community started publishing the French language newspaper, Le Messager, in 1880. An early office of the newspaper was located here at 175 Lincoln St.

It started as a weekly publication, then a tri weekly, and eventually became a daily until it closed in 1966. It was founded by Louis-J. Martel and J.-D. Montmarquet. For the staff of Le Messager, the most important thing to report was Franco-American life, experience, and culture. Over time they widened their scope to include world events and sports. The newspaper even featured, as of 1908, the columns of Camille Lessard Bissonette; immigrant, former mill worker, author, and suffragette. Lessard Bissonette wrote the book "Canuck," pictured below.

The newspaper also provided commentary on a fight between Irish and Franco Catholics over the nationality of their bishop. This debate delayed the building of Saint Peter and Paul Basilica in 1906. The editor at the time, Jean-Baptiste Couture, wrote pro French-Canadian bishop editorials that fanned the flames of Franco-American nationalism in the community. He went as far as to denounce Lewiston's French Dominicans for being in league with the Irish hierarchy. According to the local church, this denunciation was a step too far, and he was suspended from the parish for life, the equivalent of a local excommunication.

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Franco-American Lewiston, ME: About Town

Le Messager Offices

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