Bateaux to Quebec:
Life & Times of Ruben Colburn

Tom Desjardin
Author, Historian & Director, Bureau of Public Lands

Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 7:00pm
•Cram Alumni House, Bowdoin College•
83 Federal St., Brunswick

Tom Desjardin

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s (FOMB) fourth presentation of their 20th annual Winter Speaker Series, Bateaux to Quebec: Life & Times of Reuben Colburn, features Tom Desjardin, author, historian and Director of Maine’s Bureau of Parks & Lands. The event, takes place at Bowdoin College’s Cram Alumni House, 83 Federal St. in Brunswick, Wednesday January 11. It begins at 7pm following the annual FOMB potluck supper and business meeting starting at 6pm. Both events are free and open to the public. Cram’s parking lot entry is off the Bath Rd.

Many people have heard of General Benedict Arnold’s expedition in 1775 up the Kennnebec and Dead Rivers to attempt the capture of Quebec City. But, few know much about his boat builder Reuben Colburn, a lumberman and shipbuilder in Pittston, Maine. His home, the Major Reuben Colburn House, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Colburn made great contributions to the American side in the Revolutionary War including enlisting the Abenaki tribes as American allies against the British through a meeting he arranged between the Indians and George Washington. When informed of a plan to capture Quebec City under the command of Colonel Arnold, Colburn offered his services to the Continental army, complete with scouts, maps, and boats. Arnold was enthusiastic about the new support and wrote Colburn immediately:

Sir, His Excellency General Washington Desires you will Inform yourself how soon, there can be procured, or built, at Kennebec, Two hundred light Bateaux Capable of Carrying Six or Seven Men each, with their Provisions & Baggage, (say 100 wt. to each man) the Boats to be furnished with four Oars two Paddles & two Setting Poles each, the expense of Building them & whether a sufficient quantity of Nails can be procured with you.

Tom Desjardin holds a Ph.D. in U.S. History and has written several books on the Civil War with an emphasis on Gettysburg. During the 1990s he served as the archivist and historian at Gettysburg National Military Park. He later taught Civil War history at Bowdoin College in Maine where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin and Gettysburg hero Joshua Chamberlain was a student, professor and president. Experienced in both television and film, Desjardin served as the historical advisor to actor Jeff Daniels for his role as Chamberlain in the films Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. He and his work have been featured on the History Channel, A&E, Discovery, PBS and C-SPAN. He currently serves as the director of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

FOMB hosts their Winter Speaker Series October-May, the second Wednesday of each month. The February 8th presentation, Talking Fish-Heads features Nate Gray, DMR fishery biologist and Doug Watts, river activist and author in a discussion moderated by FOMB, Chair, Ed Friedman on migratory fish restoration in Maine, the good, the bad and the ugly. This 7pm presentation will be at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. Speaker Series presentations are free, open to the public and supported by Patagonia, Inc. in Freeport. Visit to see speaker biographies, full event schedules, become a member, and learn more about how you can help protect beautiful Merrymeeting Bay.

Call Kathleen McGee, 666-3598


Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler