In the late 1880s nearly 25,000 French-Canadians came from Quebec, seeking work in Lowell’s mills. Many stayed, populating “Little Canada,” Centralville, and Pawtucketville and building families that have contributed to the city for generations.
Some went back to Canada, but never forgot Lowell, further cementing the bond between the Mill City and our neighbors to the north.
Thursday afternoon, Canadian Consul General Patrick Binns visited City Hall to meet with Mayor Patrick Murphy and to his surprise found a contingent of Lowellians with Canadian roots awaiting his arrival.
A group of 10, including members of the Franco-American Day Committee and the Richelieu Club, Sue Andrews from the Lowell National Historical Park, and Paul Marion and Carole Salmon from UMass Lowell brainstormed ideas of how to establish a (or a couple) of sister cities in Canada.
Salmon, who teaches French at UML, suggested Saint-Georges, Quebec may be a good place to start. A connection was formed between the two cities in 2009 when Denis Poulin, a professor at Cégep Beauce-Appalaches, who had taught at Englesby Junior High School in Dracut in the 1970’s and still has family in the area, brought a group of his students to Lowell in 2009.
Since that first visit there have been several visits back and forth between the two schools and in 2011 they officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding, cementing their partnership.
Salmon explained the two cities have a similar industrial background and many people in that area have heard of Lowell because they had family members who immigrated here to work in the mills.
There were also discussions of making connections with English-speaking parts of Canada through arts and culture that can eventually blossom into relationships that carry economic benefits for both nations.