Monthly Archives: August 2016

Shevenell Talks Immigrant History at Shaker Museum

TShevenell82116
Maine filmmaker Tonya Shevenell kept an audience rapt in her family history tale on Sunday at Alfred Shaker Museum and described the documentary she is making of it. Titled The Home Road, she filmed her father’s 200-mile walk last year in their ancestor’s footsteps when he migrated from Compton in the Eastern townships of Quebec to Biddeford in coastal Maine in 1845. He was 19 when he made the trek. While the film is not quite finished, she said she aims to complete it by the end of the year and screen it starting in February.

Her paternal line of Shevenells had arrived in Quebec in the 1750s, in time to see the transfer of authorities from the French to the British. Her hardy ancestor was Israel Shevenell, her great great great grandfather who became the first French-Canadian to settle permanently in Biddeford. He became a brick maker, entrepreneur, and business man. He returned to Canada to marry and together they had a large French-Canadian family of 16 children, Shevenell said, but she could find records of only ten. He also persuaded his parents and siblings to follow him to Maine. One wing of the family eventually moved to Eliot. After what she called a “robust life, Israel died in 1912 at the age of 86.

Her decision to take on the history and perhaps repeat her ancestor’s trip on foot from Quebec originated, she said, in a conversation with a stranger on a bus trip to Portland. The idea grew as she discussed it with her Dad, Ray Shevenell, a former college track star who, years earlier, had won a four-year track scholarship to Georgetown University. But after arriving at the school, he never unpacked, she said. He was too homesick and returned to Maine. Now, he wanted to “connect” somehow with the forebear whose life story they had been researching together.

They planned The Home Road over months and two visits to Quebec to check the lay of the land and the route he might take, which wasn’t completely clear from the record, but wound through the White Mountains then into Western Maine.

On Sunday, she talked about both the recorded history of their family and the multiple changes that affected all people in that time period as it birthed the Industrial Revolution and railroads altered people’s senses of time and space. As for the film, she described the bad weather, including freezing rain, and blisters her father encountered last year on his 13-day hike. At the customs station at the Canadian border, officials thought her Dad was a hitchhiker… until she explained what they were doing. The path was mostly through New Hampshire and then through Maine along the Saco River to Biddeford, which was, she said, “the busiest place he’d ever seen.” En route, her father did encounter some bears in an “unlikely setting”; he saw three of them cross the road in North Conway, New Hampshire. While her camera did not capture that moment, she found someone whose camera did.

One morning, her Dad took off before she discovered that he had her car keys and she had to “hoof it” in pursuit, chasing him down the “home road.” She laughed when she told that story.

Shevenell also talked about the incredible changes in communications and transportation in the 1900s — the growth of railroads, invention of the telegraph and telephone, and so many other modern creations and how they affected the people of the world. That is, how work moved from outdoor spaces (agricultural) to indoor spaces (manufacturing), from individual work to mass employment, and so forth.

“What connects us to our past, connects us to our future,” she concluded.

Her talk was the second event of four in the Sid Emery Memorial Forum, now in its second year. The talks are presented by the Alfred Shaker Museum and the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society.

The next speaker will describe the work of an early stonecutter in Southern Maine. The speaker is Ron Romano whose book, Early Gravestones in Southern Maine: The Genius of Bartlett Adams, is being published this summer. He will make the presentation on Oct. 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the Shaker Museum in Alfred. The events are free to the public, though donations are gratefully accepted.

A week later, Adam Nudd-Homeyer will discuss his work melding history with wood and metalworking skills. He has agreed to produce replicas of a Shaker chair produced originally at Alfred for sale to the public by Chilton House. The museum will display a sample.

HomeRoad82116

Video: Noah Binette’s The Saga of Malaga

Thanks to Saco River Community Television for recording the first session in our Speakers’ Series, Noah Binette’s The Saga of Malaga.

For Sale: Hammond Organ

organ

Hammond Electric Organ

$500.00 or BEST OFFER

Contact Linda at 207-490-5709

Speakers’ Series: Filmmaker Tonya Shevenell on August 21

shevenell

Shaker Hill Apple Festival, September 24 and 25

Apple Festival Flyer

Museum Hours:

Museum Hours: 1 PM – 4 PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and by appointment.

Closing for the season on November 11.

Admission: Free. Donations are gratefully accepted.

We are dog-friendly. Well-behaved dogs on leash are welcome in our building.

Become a Friend of the Alfred Shaker Museum!


FASM meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 PM at the Alfred Shaker Museum. The public is invited to our meetings (unless announced otherwise).

We welcome new members! To join FASM, see our Become a Friend page.

FASM News:

Find Us on Facebook

Keep in Touch!

Sign up here for the FASM email list.