Although Saint Croix Island has no public access, it can be well seen from both the U.S. and Canadian mainlands. If you can’t visit it, why would I include this in my A-Z blog? To answer myself, because the proposed settlement for the island predates my hometown of Plymouth by sixteen years!
This uninhabited island sits near the mouth of the Saint Croix River,which forms part of the
U.S.-Canadian border and separates Maine from New Brunswick. It is only 6.5 acres – 200 yards long by 100 yards wide, and was called Muttoneguis by the Passamaquoddy Nation, who had used or lived on the island for numerous centuries before European discovery.
Saint Croix Island is the site of the first French attempt to colonize the territory they called l’Acadie; members of a French expedition led by
Pierre Dugua settled on the island in 1604. Seventy-nine members of the expedition, including Samuel Champlain, passed the severe winter of 1604-1605 on the island, iced in by freezing temperatures and cut off from fresh water and game. Thirty-five settlers died, apparently of scurvy, and were buried in a small cemetery on the island. In spring of 1605 the Passamaquoddy, previously befriended by the French, returned to the shores of Saint Croix Island and traded game for bread. The health of the remaining settlers improved, to the point where the group could move on by summer. Dugua made the decision to move the colony and founded the settlement of Port Royal, in today’s Nova Scotia. The Port Royal location was the first permanent European settlement in New France. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain and some of the settlers moved from Port-Royal to a settlement on the Saint Lawrence River that later became known at Quebec.
St. Croix Island became known as Bone Island in the 18th century after many of the graves were exposed by erosion. Twenty three sets of remains were removed in 1969 and subsequently reburied in 2003.
The island was designated Saint Croix Island National Monument by the United States Congress in 1949. It was given its current designation by Congress as an International Historic Site on September 25, 1984, a unique designation in the national park systems of the United States and Canada