Lewiston's waves of immigration


Little Canada School, Lewiston, ca.1900

Little Canada School, Lewiston, ca.1900
Item 82153   info
Franco-American Collection

The French Canadians arrived in the late 1800s, and like the Irish, they filled a massive demand for labor in the mills as hydropower expanded their production of textiles. As a result, Lewiston's population nearly doubled within a decade.

In Lewiston, the French were marginalized. Their “Little Canada” neighborhood was physically cut off from the rest of the city, surrounded by the Androscoggin River and the canals. The flood of French workers from Canada, and their larger-than-average family size, created a housing shortage; when they tried to move out of Little Canada, they met resistance from the second and third generation Irish, and the English.

The Irish and French were Catholics, and this, combined with economic issues and discrimination based on stereotypes, led to conflict with Lewiston residents of English Protestant heritage.

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