Mariah Pfeiffer

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number



Normand Charest grew up in Berlin, New Hampshire, where his father and grandfather worked in paper mills. Charest worked one summer in the Bermaco mill and decided he would not continue in the industry. He was self-employed, then, for 30 years: he ran a Radio Shack, did freelance photography, consulted for renewable energy, and managed rock and roll bands. Since 1991, Charest has worked as an economic development director for Berlin, facilitating new business or business expansion.

Scope and Content Note

This interview covers the significance of the Androscoggin to Berliners: industry, recreation, and revulsion; River pollution; working in the Berlin paper mill: Charest’s experience and the appeal of life-long mill work; the business of the paper mill: products and production processes, the industry’s decline in New England; the impact of the decline on Berlin; Charest’s 30 years of self-employment: his occupations and their meaning to him; Berlin’s economic future: Charest’s vision for growth, Berliners’ attitude towards business risks, young people leaving Berlin, and prison construction plans; economic regional differences within New England; environmentalism: Charest’s interest, other Berliners’ mistrust; Charest’s experience in the 1970s; Charest’s philosophy of political engagement; Berlin’s identity: immigrant roots, Catholicism, Charest’s relationship to his French background; and Charest’s relationship to his children.

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.