JAY — Farmington resident Susan Gagnon has announced the premiere of her first documentary, “Down by The River’s Edge” which will be shown at 7 p.m. Friday, April 26 and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at the Jay Middle School cafeteria. Set against the backdrop of the history of the local paper industry beginning in the 1890s, the film documents the riveting stories of paper makers who worked at the landmark Otis Mill in Chisholm, Maine and includes the devastating closing of that mill.

Oftentimes leaving family behind for years, men traveled over land and sea, from Quebec, the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and across the Atlantic from as far away as Italy, Czechoslovakia and Ireland seeking and finding employment in the foothills of western Maine.

Through first-hand accounts, retired paper makers weave generational tales of their struggles and triumphs as immigrants settling together with loved ones into the trinity of a community: the Otis Mill, the Androscoggin River and the St. Rose of Lima Church, where these new immigrants practiced their Roman Catholic faith.

Gagnon, a former resident of Jay and Livermore Falls, collaborated with Mt. Blue Community Access TV in Farmington to produce the local documentary. Novice filmmaker Gagnon received training on how to use the station’s camera equipment and began filming the outside of the Otis Mill while it was still producing paper in May 2009. The Otis Mill shut down permanently in June 2009.

Gagnon, who wrote the screenplay, was once a local community health advocate and medical receptionist. She now enjoys writing, researching local history of immigrant populations, genealogy, yard sales, scrapbooking, and spending time with her beloved grandchildren and children.

Gagnon will be available for discussion after the screening. Admission is free.


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