In 1845, 19-year-old Israel Shevenell left his home in Canada and walked nearly 200 miles to Biddeford, Maine. He found work and built a new life in an American boomtown being transformed by the Industrial Revolution, and is recognized as the city's first permanent French-Canadian settler and French voter.
In 2015, his 74-year-old great-great-grandson, Ray Shevenell, retraced the pioneering journey, walking from Compton, Quebec to Biddeford.
Tonya Shevenell tells their stories in her first feature documentary film, an exploration of family, history and identity - and now a journey into the unexpected inevitably leads to...home.
© 2017 Home Ice Productions, LLC
From Tonya: The Home Road is inspired by the coming-of-age story of my great-great-great grandfather, Israel Shevenell. I wish I could talk to the 19-year old who set out on foot April 1st, 1845, headed southeast from his home in Compton, Quebec; crossed the border; trudged through lingering winter snow in New Hampshire's White Mountains and deep mud in the Saco Valley; and arrived at his destination of Biddeford, Maine two weeks later. He earned $8 a week as a brick maker in this booming coastal town; it was steady work and more money than he could make farming at home. He walked back to Quebec that fall and convinced his family to move to Biddeford with him. Israel became the city's first permanent French-Canadian settler; contributed to its growth and changed the course of Shevenell family history. In 2015, my father, Ray Shevenell, celebrated the 170th anniversary of this pioneering trek by retracing Israel's journey, walking the nearly 200 miles from Compton, Quebec to Biddeford, Maine.
This walk is the foundation for The Home Road documentary film. Layered over this adventure are narrations, interviews, archive photos and film, and stories; exploring the themes of migration, movement and "home".
Tonya is a Portland, Maine native working full-time in independent film and music creation and marketing. A graduate of The School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, she is no stranger to long hours in the hospitality and arts industries; the buzz of the road and being on stage, the quiet of creative time in her studio and the entrepreneurial challenges and rush of the mix.
The Home Road is her first feature documentary film. In addition to her work on this project, she enjoys playing bass guitar, following her favorite baseball and hockey teams, spending time with family and discovering new things about her home State of Maine.
To read Tonya's weekly updates, visit the Now page.
McArthur Public Library - Biddeford, Maine
Summer 2017 - I'd love to have you join my mailing list! I respect your inbox and time and typically email once every 3-4 weeks, unless there is breaking news. The emails are always written by me and include news about The Home Road film as well as other projects I work on through my production company, Home Ice Productions.
Thank you very much! Tonya