In 1604, a French explorer named Samuel Champlain traveled to Maine and discovered an island. This island was the tallest in Penobscot Bay, so Champlain fittingly named it “Isle au Haut”, or “high island”.
A century ago, 200 of the 3,000 islands spread along Maine’s coast were inhabited fishing communities. Today, only 14 of the islands are inhabited year-round. Isle au Haut remains one of these 14, with a current population of 30 year-round residents. This project explores the isolated lifestyle through several characters in a series of videos.
There is no ferry that commutes to Isle au Haut; just the Isle au Haut mail boat. The mail boat, 'Mink', provides the reliable daily service of commuting back and forth to the mainland to transport passengers as well as groceries, mail and freight; serving as the lifeline that allows this unique island lifestyle to exist.
Reason to Stay
In 1792, the first settler arrived on Isle au Haut; Peletiah Barter. Barters have resided on the island ever since, many of them working as fishermen. This video follows Billie Barter, his son, grandson and great grandsons as they spend their days lobstering and struggling to find what’s best for the next generations in a changing environment and economy.
When island students approach high school age, they have the options of either commuting daily to the mainland High School on the mailboat, moving onto the mainland, or attending boarding school. Conor Maxcy, one of the two students at Isle au Haut's K-8 one-room schoolhouse, made the decision to move off of Isle au Haut. This story follows Conor as he transitions into mainland lifestyle and recognizes his true home.