Dedicated to his Franco-American heritage and public service

A story by Biddeford Cultural & Heritage Center Voices of Biddeford project from 1953-2022

Voices of Biddeford interview with Michael Cantara on November 17, 2022

Michael's parents impressed upon him that he was "chosen" when they adopted him from St. Andre's Home. He has a deep appreciation for his Franco roots, a journey from France to Quebec to Biddeford.  He initially began a career as a college French professor but returned to school to become an attorney.  Michael continued to progress in this profession, and was eventually elected District Attorney from 1990 to 2003, then Commissioner of the Maine Department of Public Safety from 2003 to 2007 and subsequently served as District Court Judge, retiring in 2019.

While working full time, he has served in countless public service roles, including mayor in 1987-1988.  His volunteer and leadership roles are too numerous to list here as are all of his awards which include State of Maine Franco-American Hall of Fame and 2022 Biddeford Hall of Fame.

Interview highlights include: Lifestyle and traditions of a Franco-American family; Parochial school memories, closure of St. Louis High School and impact on senior year at Biddeford High; Do you remember S & H Green stamps?; Poignant recollections from his dad's service in WWII; Living in France: Caen, Normandy area and Paris; Why he decided to go from teaching French to getting a law degree; Addressing major problems as mayor: MERC; DEP landfill and ocean discharge compliance; new fire station location; urban renewal; Seeing issues from the perspective of an attorney, a district attorney, Commissioner of Public Safety and District Court judge; Court cases that left an impression and heightened sensitivity to challenges such as domestic violence; The role of diversity in Biddeford's history and future potential

Recorded on November 17, 2022

View a transcript of this interview, more pictures, and additional information.

For more stories from the "Voices for Biddeford" project, visit Voices of Biddeford.

Michael's father (Jean Paul Cantara) WWII Paratrooper Award

Biddeford Mayor Michael Cantara 1987-1988

District Court Judge 2007-2019

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