Keywords: Le Messager
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."
In the early 1600s, French explorers and colonizers in the New World quickly adopted a Native American mode of transportation to get around during the harsh winter months: the snowshoe. Most Northern societies had some form of snowshoe, but the Native Americans turned it into a highly functional item. French settlers named snowshoes "raquettes" because they resembled the tennis racket then in use.
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.