Republic of Madawaska

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Madawaska Flag Bicentennial.png
Republic of Madawaska
[1]Location of Madawaska County, New Brunswick
Country Canada
Province New Brunswick
Established 1873
President Jacque P. Martin
- Land 323 km2 (124.7 sq mi)
Population (2006)[1][2]
- Total 34,071
- Density 9.8/km2 (25.4/sq mi)
- Change 2001-06 ▼4.3%
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
- Summer (DST) ADT (UTC-3)
Area code(s) 506
Dwellings 15,888
Median Income* $42,709
*Median household income, 2005 (all households)

Republic of Madawaska (2006 population 34,071), also known as the "New Brunswick Panhandle", is located in northwestern New Brunswick, Canada. Over 90% of the county's population speaks French. Forestry is the major industry in the county


The Republic of Madawaska (French: République du Madawaska) was a small, unrecognized state in the northwest corner of Madawaska County, New Brunswick (also known as the "New Brunswick Panhandle") and adjacent areas of Aroostook County in the American state of Maine and of Quebec. The word "Madawaska" comes from the Mi'kmaq words madawas (porcupine) and kak (place). Thus, the Madawaska is "the country of the porcupine".[1] The Madawaska River which flows into the Saint John River at Edmundston, New Brunswick and Madawaska, Maine flows through the region.

The origins of the unorganized republic lie in the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established the border between the United States and the British North American colonies. The Madawaska region remained in dispute between Britain and the United States until 1842.

In 1817, an American settler, John Baker, arrived in the region. Baker petitioned the state of Maine for inclusion in the state in 1825. On 4 July 1827, Baker and his wife, Sophie Rice, raised an "American" flag sewn by Sophie, on the west of the junction of the Meruimticook (now Baker Brook, after him) and Saint John Rivers. This area is now Fort Kent, Maine. Curiously, the flag reportedly designed by Sophie was identical to the current "Flag of the Republic".[2]

On August 10 of that year, Baker and others announced their intention to declare the Republic of Madawaska. On that day, the British magistrate confiscated Baker's "American" flag. Baker was arrested by the British on September 25 for conspiracy and sedition. Ultimately, Baker was fined £25 and jailed for two months, or until the fine was paid.[2]

This set off a diplomatic incident, which led to arbitration by the King of the Netherlands. His decision in 1831 was rejected by Maine. After the undeclared Aroostook War (1838–39), the United States and the United Kingdom signed the Webster–Ashburton Treaty on August 9, 1842, finally settling the boundary question.

According to a pamphlet entitled "The Republic of Madawaska" and published at Edmundston, "The myth of the 'Republic of Madawaska' (because it is not a true Republic in a political sense) draws its origins from an answer given to a French official on a tour of inspection during the troubled times by an old Madawaska colonist. Thinking the official a little too inquisitive, he said 'I am a citizen of the Republic of Madawaska' with all the force of an old Roman saying 'I am a citizen of Rome,' and the pride of a Londoner declaring 'I am a British subject.' "

The Republic of Madawaska now exists only in the hearts of the inhabitants of this legendary republic, who proudly refer to themselves as brayons. A flag of the republic was created in 1938, bearing an American eagle and an arc of six red stars on a white field. This flag flies at the city hall of Edmundston, New Brunswick, and at Madawaska festivals. The sitting mayor of Edmundston, the largest municipality in the region, also assumes the honorary title of "President of the Republic of Madawaska".

Popular Canadian author Will Ferguson includes a chapter on "The Republic of Madawaska" in Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada, his award-winning anthology of poignant trans-Canadian vignettes.

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