Van Buren

The area that is now Van Buren, Maine, was originally part of Grande-Rivière, a town that covered what is today Van Buren and St.Leonard, New Brunswick. This community was divided by an international border in 1842. After 1842 the two communities diverged as the American side was integrated politically, economically, and culturally into the U.S., and as more and more anglophone settlers from other parts of Maine and New England moved into Van Buren. The New Brunswick side of the border remained bilingual. (for a fascinating look at the history of these two communities, and how what were once identical populations came to diverge wildly, see Louise Gravel Shea, L’INFLUENCE DE LA FRONTIÈRE CANADO-AMÉRICAINE SUR LA POPULATION DE GRANDE-RIVIÈRE MADAWASKA (in French) at

"Martin Van Buren, America's eighth president, is honored in the name of an Aroostook town which lies on the west bank of the St. John's River, the channel or deepest part of which forms the exact boundary between the U.S. and the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The town was incorporated in 1881 and was named for the man who had been President of the United States from 1837 to 1841, the period when the so-called Aroostook War was in progress.

"The people of Van Buren are largely descendants of the original settlers driven out from Nova Scotia in 1755. On the Grande Rivière (St. John's River) some of the Acadians who were the original settlers of the present town of Van Buren were Augustin Violette, François Violette and Joseph Cyr. This first establishment on the Grande Rivière was on the south shore, two miles above the present town of Van Buren, where the church of St. Bruno was built later. ...

"Keegan, a village in the same township, but two miles north of Van Buren, ... is the site of the first French-Acadian settlement in the town." (Chadbourne, pp.283-284)

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Last revised 18 Apr 2007
©2002-2007 C.Gagnon