Chebeague (pronunciation: “shuh big” without a significant emphasis on either syllable) is the largest island in Casco Bay at almost five miles long and 1½ miles wide. It is home to over 360 year-round people and more than 1,600 summer residents. Its name means “isle of many springs.” It is served by Casco Bay Lines which calls at Chandler Cove on the southern end of the Island and by Chebeague Transportation Company which runs from Cousins Island to the Stone Wharf on Chebeague.
On July 1, 2007 the town of Chebeague Island became the newest town in Maine when it seceded from mainland Cumberland. The Town is comprised of seventeen islands and their adjacent waters. While many of the town’s islands have hosted year-round settlements in the past, Great Chebeague and Hope are currently the only islands inhabited year-round.
Since settlement, Great Chebeague has continually transformed itself from a subsistence agrarian economy to a multifaceted economy based on marine construction, fishing, and farming. Because of the stability of this economy, islanders resisted entering into the tourist industry. In the late 1800s, a seasonal economy developed with boarding houses, hotels and subdivisions of cottage lots.. Today the island’s economy includes maritime endeavors, on island work, and off island employment.
Chebeague has an extensive infrastructure which includes a school, fire and rescue departments, library, recreation center, assisted living facility, day care, community hall, church, and historical society. Businesses include a market, seasonal hotel with restaurant, boatyard with seasonal store and gift shop, and an internet provider.
Today, Chebeague is an active community comprised of folks with deep emotional connections to the island, who are committed to working to sustain the viability of their island community. While many islanders are descended from the earliest settlers, the ancestors of a significant number of Chebeaguers arrived on the island as rusticators.