Ever wish you could get away from it all and live on an island? The people of Frenchboro
(population 50) have—and wouldn't live any other way. Learn more about this small island off the coast of Maine—accessible only by ferry—from the residents themselves!
A: Life on Frenchboro is likely worlds apart from what most people are living. There are no movie theaters, clothing stores, hairdressers, ice cream parlors or hardware stores. There are no restaurants. There is no "getting home late and ordering a pizza." When it's cold and rainy and the kids have been cooped up, there is no indoor amusement park or bowling alley to bring them to.
And we don't care; we don't miss these things at all.
What we do have is the most beautiful, peaceful and serene surroundings anyone could wish for. We have a tight-knit community, where everybody knows not only your name, but everything there is to know about you. There may not be takeout, but if you are struggling or ill, a neighbor is likely to bring a full dinner to your door at dinnertime, unasked. Our kids are well versed in entertaining themselves and have only to wait a few hours for low tide to pick around the clam flats. We frequently gather at one house or another for coffee or any excuse to visit.
A: Summer living is easy, with fair skies, fantastic vistas and abundant wildlife. Travel is fun, enjoyable, and boat rides are taken just for something to do. Our kids are trained and on the water by the time they can walk. We are not overrun with tourists because of our limited ferry service, so we welcome and enjoy the ones who do come.
We have a few seasonal businesses that we enjoy visiting as much as our tourists—the Dockside Deli, a takeout restaurant, the Museum and Historical Society, the Frenchboro Library and building is in progress for a new store the Offshore Store. There is now a year-round business, the Frenchboro Bakery, where baked goods and delectable desserts are available daily.
A: Winters are bleak and hard. There is no pretty way to say it—it's survival at its most basic level. The fishermen are ashore awaiting good weather, and the lobsters are deep in the mud, hiding from the cold. There are few, if any, paychecks. The winds and seas are fierce. Travel is a nightmare of logistical planning, and an impromptu storm wreaks havoc on our lives. Power losses are frequent and sometimes lengthy. We stockpile food, gas and other supplies as if awaiting Armageddon.
We take great pride in ourselves and our community as a whole when spring comes, and we've weathered another winter successfully.
Our school is a K–8 one-room school house, one of the last of its kind, where our student to teacher ratio is so low (six to one), each child might as well be privately tutored. We don't miss the rat race. Go inside the schoolhouse!
A: We hunt and fish and shop sales all fall to fill our freezers and cupboards. We buy whole cows and pigs from the butcher. We pray for moose permits and successful hunts to save the cost of buying meat. We buy toilet paper in staggering amounts!
A: There are no medical services on our island. We take care of ourselves and each other to the best of our abilities and head to the mainland for medical attention. Visitors are responsible for maintaining their own health and well-being. Medications must be brought with you and in sufficient amounts for the duration of your trip.
We are first and foremost a fishing village, and all but a very few of us make a living solely from the sea. We are a resilient bunch by necessity. Lobster fishermen aren't in the business to get rich. They do it for the love of the job. Fishermen on why they love what they do.
Recent changes in federal regulations and the downturn in the economy have slashed incomes and increased the cost of doing business. Every family has been affected, and our whole island culture is threatened. We look at our future and the future of our children as an opportunity to grow while holding tight to our simple lives and old- fashioned ideals. We have all the modern technological advantages of the mainland and hope to put them to use to forge a new path that will still enable us to enjoy the freedom and connection to the sea and nature we cannot live without, while maintaining our self-reliance with dogged determination.