Joseph Daigle

Madawaska pioneer, described as the pillar of the church in Madawaska by Father Thomas Albert. He was also a churchwarden for the Saint Basile Parish.

Albert, Thomas Abbé, Histoire du Madawaska, Imp. Franciscaine missionaire, Québec, PQ, 1920, 448 p. (Translated from the original)

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Maliseet Hospitality

Our ancestors tell us that the Maliseets warmly welcomed the first families who arrived in the Madawaska region in 1785. Rev. Thomas Albert refers to the dignified and articulate Chief François-Xavier as a benefactor and protector of the newcomers. How can we explain this great generosity of the "Madawaskaks" toward strangers? And can we believe this openness when we learn that some 20 years earlier, these native people, feeling threatened by an increasing number of hunters and merchants taking advantage of the resources of the area, had complained to the Quebec government who then banned hunting (by the Canadians) in this Maliseet territory in 1765. A few theories exist as to the evolution of attitudes and mentalities between 1765 and 1785.

  • The fact that two half brothers, Pierre Duperré and Pierre Lizotte had resided in the Maliseet village probably in 1783-1784, could have helped to prepare for the arrival of the first settlers. After their stay, the two “Pierre’s” went downriver to Sainte Anne des Pays Bas near Fredericton and returned in 1785 with the founders of the Madawaska colony. As acquaintances of the Maliseets, they could have played an intermediary role.
  • It could also have been that the “Madawaskaks” already knew the leaders of these Acadians asking for hospitality. In fact, Joseph Daigle, Louis and Michel Mercure and a few others, had often traveled through the area while carrying mail between Halifax and Quebec. If they petitioned for lands in the Upper St. John Valley, it is that they knew beforehand, that they could count on the Maliseets’ hospitality.
  • The diplomacy of the Madawaska pioneers, as well as their status of poor exiles, humbly and respectfully requesting to settle in the area, could have influenced the attitudes of the first inhabitants. Let us admit that it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in all this especially when we learn that in the first year, the new settlers need the protection of a newly created militia. A petition dated July 16, 1789 shows that difficulties arose when some merchants from Kennebec began to trade in spirits in the territory, and gave bad advice to the Aboriginals. It is certain that the importance of the "Madoueskak" village declined at the end of the 18th century, as the Tobique Reserve was officially established in 1801.
G. Desjardins
Université de Moncton campus d'Edmundston Société Historique du Madawaska Ville d'Edmundston Patrimoine Canadien