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Like many cities in France, Lewiston and Auburn's skylines are dominated by a cathedral-like structure, St. Peter and Paul Church. Now designated a basilica by the Vatican, it stands as a symbol of French Catholic contributions to the State of Maine.
Lewiston, Maine's second largest city, was long looked upon by many as a mill town with grimy smoke stacks, crowded tenements, low-paying jobs, sleazy clubs and little by way of refinement, except for Bates College. Yet, a noted Québec historian, Robert Rumilly, described it as "the French Athens of New England."
French Canadians who emigrated to the Lewiston-Auburn area faced discrimination as children and adults -- such as living in "Little Canada" tenements and being ridiculed for speaking French -- but also adapted to their new lives and sustained many cultural traditions.