Friday afternoon I had a call from Anne after she had finished fiddling with both of her bands…one at the Veterans Victory House and one at Round ‘O...it had been a busy weekend.
“Down East?” I asked puzzled…”Don’t you mean at least “Up Down East?” “Actually Upper Upper Down East?” Anne started laughing.
“It is an historical colloquial expression and one you ‘best’ try on before we go.” Being a social studies teacher…I knew there had to be some history behind it and I was so right. So, just in case…you don’t know why and how Maine came to be called “Down East”…read on.
“Downeast or Down East” Maine
The term “Down East” or “Downeast” is most often defined in Maine as the eastern coastal region of the State that covers Washington County and Hancock County beginning in Ellsworth and stretching to the East all the way to the Maritime Provinces. The city of Ellsworth is referred to as the “Gateway to the Downeast and Acadia Region of Maine” which includes Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.
During the late 1700’s and throughout the 1800’s, sailors used their schooners to haul goods to and from the coast of New England. While moving in a northeasterly direction, especially during the warmer months, a strong wind would often be at their backs pushing them along.
This was moving “downwind” in the direction that the prevailing wind was blowing. Since the sailors and their ships were also moving in an easterly direction, one can understand how the two terms “down” and “east” would have been combined or even merged together as an expression of a direction to be traveling in that was common.
The expression evolved further to also mean a geographical area which, in those times, referred to New England in general. Many ships moved up and down the eastern seaboard for commerce and travel. During the 1800’s, Bangor, Maine was known as the“ logging capital of the world.” In 1828, there was a published reference to a person from the northeast as a down-easter .
Downeast Accent: Even to longtime Mainers, the Down East Accent is unique and easily recognized. The most notable one is the way “r’s” are dropped in pronunciations. An example is with Bar Harbor. It becomes “Bah Ha-bah”. Or, Car becomes “Cah.” There are so many examples. An expression that has seemed to have gone national is “Wicked Good!“ But, lets not forget “Ayuh!”
In short, both “Down East” and “Downeast” are used interchangeably in Maine. The State of Maine refers to the Downeast and Acadia Region whereas the State’s most well known publication is Down East Magazine. Go figure.
No matter…I am SO READY to go Downeast! 🙂
The Jake/Boo birthday party was yesterday and fabulous…I am returning home today and will catch you up on all the fun tomorrow. The best birthday EVER!!!!! (You will see why!)
* I just had to share this birthday card (from Joan Turner with you readers)… and with Eva Cate since she still loves unicorns …Like Joan wrote…”Well at least now we know why we no longer have unicorns!”
(This has been a “why” question from Eva Cate for a long time and now grandmother “Be-Be” has solved it! Too cute! Inside the card a verse said “Don’t miss out on all the birthday fun today” and believe me I didn’t.
So until tomorrow…I will soon pull a magical trip by heading “down east” to locate the tip top of northeast. It is all done with the “sleight of hand” or perhaps “sleight of direction.” But thank you Father for this opportunity to see more of Your beautiful Creation.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh