Logo   History of Castine, Maine
Named for the Baron de Saint-Castin, Castine was once the capital of all French Acadia, which included all the lands of what is now French-speaking Canada.


In the winter of 1613 (that is, before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth MA), Sieur Claude de Turgis de la Tour founded a small trading post here among the Tarrantine Indians.

The struggle for North America's forest, natural, and maritime wealth was already beginning, and the French Fort Pentagoët founded by Turgis de la Tour would be conquered by the English in 1628.

Treaty returned Pentagoët to France in 1635, and during the tumultuous period until 1676, the place changed hands many times. The British took it and called it Penobscot Fort; the French retook it and built the formidable Fort St-Pierre.

At one time the village was the capital of all French Acadia (the lands in what is now Atlantic Canada).

Even the Dutch coveted the fort, and ruled here from 1674 to 1676.

In the latter year Baron de Saint-Castin recaptured the town for France, and opened a trading station. Fortifications were strengthened, and despite raids by the British, the family of Baron de Saint-Castin ruled over the town (now called Bagaduce) even after the wealthy baron himself returned to France, in 1703.

By 1760, however, the fate of French North America was sealed, and Castin's Fort, or Bagaduce, was to be held by the British after that year.

English settlers brought new life to Bagaduce during the 1760s, and dissatisfaction boiled in the English colonies at this period. Some of the townspeople were loyal to the king, others sympathized—actively or passively—with the American revolutionaries.

In 1779 a British naval force came from Nova Scotia, intent on making the town safe for British Loyalists (and thereby influencing the negotiations that would determine the fledgling United States' northern border). The British built Fort George to defend the town.

The challenge to American sovereignty was taken up by the General Court (legislature) of Massachusetts, which governed the territory at the time, and the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition was outfitted and launched at an ultimate cost of $8 million.

Bad luck and bad commanding resulted in the destruction of most of the American force, almost bankrupting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Fort George was enlarged and strengthened over the years, and the town thrived until the border between the US and Canada was determined.

Unhappily for residents of Bagaduce, the boundary was to be the St Stephen River (the present boundary), and not the Penobscot. Those loyal to the British Crown put their houses on boats and sailed them to sites along the coast of what is today New Brunswick at St. Andrews.

Some of the houses thus moved still stand in St Andrews, and residents point to them proudly.

In 1796 the name of Bagaduce was changed to Castine, and although it was occupied by British forces during the War of 1812, it never again saw much military action.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Fort Pentagoet sign, Castine ME

Above, a sign is all that remains of the French Fort Pentagoët.

Below, British Fort George is still a formidable presence just opposite the Maine Maritime Academy.

Fort George, Castine ME


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