(NPS photo)

Walk in the Footsteps at l’île Sainte-Croix

Located in the ancestral homelands of the Wabanaki, Saint Croix Island International Historic Site commemorates the 1604 site of the first French attempt to colonize the territory they called l’Acadie. It is one of the earliest European settlements in North America. Members of a French expedition led by Pierre Dugua, intending to colonize North America, settled the island in 1604.

I led a round of management planning for Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, including a long-range interpretive plan for which consultant June Creelman was indispensable. One result was a “Walk in the Footsteps” interpretive trail, where the National Park Service installed six trail figures and a village replica produced in bronze, along with associated interpretive panels. All interpretive text is in French and English. The NPS team implementing the interpretation proposed in the plan did a fantastic job!

The overall theme for the international historic site was Saint Croix Island: Lessons in Adaptation. Overall, the site interpretive utilizes several forms of interpretive media, focused on the first two of the site’s three interpretive themes listed below, with their sub-theme titles.

Theme 1 – French Settlement on Saint Croix Island 1604-05 (70% emphasis).

  • Meeting of Two Worlds
  • A Short-Lived Settlement
  • The Legacy of St. Croix Island

Theme 2 – Context for the Saint Croix Island Settlement
(25% emphasis).

  • Native Homeland
  • European Beginnings in This Region
  • Acadia and New France

Theme 3 – Saint Croix Island Through the Years (5% emphasis).

In addition to the trail, other actions called for in the interpretive plan were implemented such as developing a regional visitor center in downtown Calais, Maine, with interactive exhibits about Saint Croix Island, and constructing a visitor contact station/ranger station at the National Park Service site in Red Beach, Maine.

Following plan acceptance, I managed the design of exhibits in the downtown visitor center and wrote some exhibit panel text for the on-site visitor contact station. All steps in planning and implementation were coordinated with Parks Canada, which manages a sister international historic site in New Brunswick, across the St. Croix River.

Creative Commons

This work by Bruce Jacobson is licensed under Creative Commons 4.0 International License—Attribution-ShareAlike.

Photo courtesy of National Park Service.

Last Updated on 3 April 2022.