The Daigle Family
of Madawaska

This is the forest primeval;
but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers --
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed...
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pre.

-- Evangeline,
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The first member of the Daigle family in the New World was Olivier D'aigre (born in 1643 in the village of Aigre -- near the Charente River -- in Saintonge, France). He settled in Port Royal, Acadia (now Nova Scotia) in 1663.

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In 1666 at Port Royal, Olivier married Marie Gaudet, the 15-year-old daughter of Denis Gaudet and Martine Gauthier. Olivier and Marie had nine children. The 1681 census of Port Royal reports that Olivier was a laborer, with "two parcels of land, six pair of black sheep and a beast of burden..." By 1695, Olivier was a farmer who worked hard to earn a living from the fertile land of Grand Pré -- clearing land, dyking the marshes , and building a productive home in the wilderness.

IN THE Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,
Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand-Pre
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward,
Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number.
Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant,
Shut out the turbulent tides....
There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of chestnut,
Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries...

-- Evangeline

One of Olivier's sons, Bernard, born in 1670, moved to the Acadian colony of Pisiquit. Although the tensions between the "French Neutrals" and the English were continually rising during his lifetime, Bernard passed away at the age of 81 and was buried in the Acadian soil of Pisiquit. His children would not be so fortunate. Four years after Bernard's death, on September 5, 1755, under the order of Lieutenant Governor Lawrence, the British Governor of Acadia, the expulsion of the Acadians began. Many of the Acadians rounded up and forced onto overcrowded and decrepit British ships would die before reaching their destinations.

Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic
Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers from exile
Wandered back to their native land to die in its bosom...

-- Evangeline

Bernard's son, Joseph, and his family managed to escape the British troops, but they were forced to continually seek new refuge, first in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse, Quebec, then Virginia, and even up the Atlantic coast to Massachusetts. In 1769, two of his sons, Jean Baptiste and Simon Joseph (sometimes simply called Joseph), against the advice of the rest of their family, returned to greater Acadia as part of a caravan of 200 families. They settled across the Bay of Fundy from their original family home, at the mouth of the St. John River, at the Acadian haven called "Sainte-Anne des Pays-Bas". Joseph would not live to make this trip. He and his wife became victims of the "Grand Derangement" and died in exile. They were buried in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse.

Sainte-Anne des Pays-Bas (modern day Fredericton, New Brunswick) saw one of the only major victories by the Acadians against the British. The only Deportation ship ever captured by the Acadians, the Pembroke, and its settlers fled to the St. John River community in New Brunswick, under the protection of Boishébert. The Acadians cleared land and settled down, hoping to have their land grants approved by the British government, now that the war with France was over. Simon Joseph (1738-1814) quickly became a leader in the exile community. Joseph, his wife and four children show up in the 1783 census as living in Sunbury Township on the St. John River, and his occupation is listed as "express carrier" -- essentially he carried the mail and protected all lines of communication between Quebec and Halifax. As such, he was quite familiar with the waters of the upper St. John River, and the fertile valley on either side.

This knowledge would prove critical in the years ahead. In 1785, English Loyalists, fleeing American territory in the aftermath of the American Revolution, would forcibly evict the Acadians from their new homes. Joseph, and his son, Joseph, Jr., would sign a number of petitions sent to the officials of Quebec and New Brunswick asking for redress, to no avail. Once again, the Acadians were on the move. Determined to live unaccosted, the families decided to travel up the St. John Valley, beyond Grand Falls where the British ships could not follow, to the area called "the Madawaska", the Native American word for "the Land of the Porcupine..."

Joseph, as one of the leaders of the Acadian community, directed the erecting of the first Acadian Cross in June, 1785, upon setting foot on the banks of the St. John River at St. David, Maine (near Madawaska). The Acadians has finally found a new home. By 1790, the British would affirm the land claims for Joseph and the other Acadian families on the banks of the St. John.

His son, Jean Baptiste D'aigre (1767-1836), would also have his claim affirmed in 1790, but on the opposite side of the river, in what is now New Brunswick. By the time of the 1831 Maine survey, Jean Baptiste was back living on the south side of the river, on land that he had occupied in 1819 on the east point formed by the confluence of the St. John and Fish Rivers. He was, however, still holding land on the north side, near the Parish property of St. Basil. His wife, Marie Anne Cyr, was the daughter of Joseph Cyr and the famous "Tante Blanche" -- Marguarite Blanche Thibodeau.

During the " Black Famine" of 1797, with the fledgling colony snowed in and starving because the crops had been lost to floods and an early frost, Tante Blanche walked door to door to minister to the sick and feed the starving from her own meager supplies. She is venerated to this day for her compassion and the Acadian Museum in Madawaska is named in her honor.

As Deane and Kavanagh would report while surveying the area in 1830, "Almost all of [the Madawaska settlers] tan their own leather, make their own shoe-packs and Canada boots, and make also their implements of husbandry, which are of rude construction and poor. The females manufacture the wool and flax of the raw material, until it is made into garments to wear, or other articles for domestic use. They also manufacture large quantities of Sugar from the rock-maple. Many hunt in autumn. The men appear to live easy and work only a portion of the time, which must be attributed to the productiveness of the soil. The women appear in all the houses to be spinning, weaving, preparing the cloth, and making it up for use..."

One interesting fact about the Acadian homes of the St. John Valley is their use of nautical features. The Acadians from Frederickton had been, like Joseph D'aigre, fishermen and boatbuilders, as well as farmers. So, they built they way they knew how -- with their houses using traditional "ship's knees" for support, and their wooden walls composed of squared logs and caulked like a boat with a waterproof mixture of flax, unburnt lime, and buckwheat seed. Even the cross beams were cut slightly narrower at their ends than in the middle, just as was done on boats of the time.


I am connected to the Daigle family in two ways.

First through my grandmother, Edwidge "Eddie" Daigle, who married Reginald Michaud on April 5, 1937, in Eagle Lake, Maine. Edwidge's parents were Rene "Remmie" Daigle and Odelia/Adelia Depres (both of Ft. Kent, Maine).

Additionally, my great grandmother (Reginald's mother)
was Ida Daigle, of Ft. Kent, ME, who married George A. Michaud on April 23, 1913, in Eagle Lake.

Ida's parents were Joseph Daigle and Marcelline Lachance, of Ft. Kent.


[Ida Daigle's Genealogy is Here]

[Edwidge Daigle's Genealogy is Here]

I am still searching for information on these families,
so please contact me if you have anything to share!

The Daigle Family Association

(Click here for more information)

The Daigle Family Database

Don Daigle is creating a database of the entire Daigle family. If you have Daigle genealogy information, or a Daigle query, he would love to hear from you.

Don's E-MAIL:

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