Résultats: ‘English articles’

Deportation, not Expulsion

2009 par Colonel John Brooks Devoe

We did upon pretenses not worth a farthing, root out this innocent, deserving people, whom our utter inability to govern or reconcile gave us no right to extirpate.” – Edmund Burke (1729-97) British Statesman, Author… on the Deportation.

 

While some might initially perceive the subject of this paper as being purely a matter of semantics, I contend that every person of Acadian descent should eschew the use of the term Expulsion with reference to the tragic events of 1755-63. It is a word designated by the perpetrators of the horrendous act to describe their evil deed and since, unwittingly, adopted by many who profess to be sympathetic to the Acadian view.

I was reminded of this not long ago when discussing with a Scot the tragedy that befell the Highlanders during the Clearances, which were also instigated by the English Crown. He had used the word Expulsion in connection with the Acadians, and when I admonished him, giving my reasons, he agreed with my position adding,  “The victor writes the history and that is the word I learned in the history books of Nova Scotia.” And so it is. The term is preferred because it then likens the Deportation to acts committed by the French with respect to the Huguenots or the eviction of the so-called “Loyalists” by the American patriots (loyal only to their new nation) and fighting for independence from the Crown. Such a comparison is entirely without merit; a person expulsed may choose his destination.

Words have meanings. The Deportation was unique in its intent and cruelty: The homes of the Acadians were burned, much of their cattle slaughtered; families were physically removed (often separated) and driven onto vessels at bayonet point bound for destinations chosen by their captors. They were not expelled, they did not emigrate, they were deported. Not all lexicographers deal with the difference between the words Deportation and Expulsion with precision, often giving them similar meanings. The roots from which they etymologically evolved suggest they are quite unlike in meaning however. The Latin origins of deport are deportare, carry off, carry away: de, away, off + portare, carry and for expel we find expellare, drive out: ex-out + pelier, to drive. Again, the Acadians were not driven, they were taken.

While some sympathetic to the Acadian view of things slip into the use of the victor’s choice of words, those of the British view never fail to choose carefully. The English bias of Mahaffie in his recently published Land of Discord Always is evident in both his index and the text; the word is Expulsion, never Deportation. On the other hand, A. H. Clark (as neutral a writer as I have found) in his Acadia uses Deportation exclusively. There is a “code” here if you will, and a check of the indices of any of the histories of the time is revealing; try it. When writing, make your mark as an Acadian, use DEPORTATION, never Expulsion!

 

NDLR : L’article ci-dessus du colonel Devoe, de Stratham, New Hampshire, est paru en mai 2002 dans Le Réveil Acadien publié par la “Acadian Cultural Society”, à Fitchburg, Ma. Tandis que le colonel préconise l’utilisation du mot “Déportation” contrairement à “Dispersion” (Expulsion), d’autres utilisent sans ambages les mots “nettoyage ethnique” (John Mack Faragher, John Eldon Green), et “génocide” (Roger Paradis (1998), Warren Perrin, Southern University Law Review (1999), Fidèle Thériault, Me Christian Néron, Benoît Aubin, Émery LeBlanc, Pierre-Maurice Hébert, Stephen J. Martin et Gilbert Gendron, The Barnes Review (2002), Dean Jobb (2005), etc. En tout cas, quiconque lit “L’Article II de la Convention contre le génocide,” pourra comprendre que les Acadiens ont bel et bien subi une nettoyage ethnique et un génocide en face du «Berceau même de la Confédération» canadienne tel que l’écrivait dans The Guardian (Charlottetown, 1er novembre 2000) John Eldon Green, consultant en gestion au lieu historique national de Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst.

 

Recollection of a very peculiar occurrence

2007 par Ken Emery

 

Salut et bonjour! Je m’appelle Jayne Emery. Je suis la fille de Ken Emery, le président de la Belfast Historical Society.

This is a true story that took place on June 25th, 2005 at the Lord Selkirk Provincial Park in Eldon, Prince Edward Island, site of an ancient Acadian bural ground followed later by Scottish interments and now the site of the Acadian-Scot Memorial Cairn.

 

It was around 10:00 in the morning, on a sunny at the cäirn, finishing up the molding around the plaque bright day of June, that occurred the peculiar event   when he saw the shadow. He looked up to see a very polite, that is about to unfold. The event took place at well-mannered gentleman with a thick Scots burl. Ken Lord Selkirk Park on the day that preceded the dedication of the memorial cäirn with its two plaques remembering the trials and injustices suffered by the Acadian and Scottish people, in particular the Acadian Deportation of 1755-1762 and the martyrdom in 1305 of William Wallace, the chief champion of Scotland’s independence.

The occasion for the dedication was therefore the observance of two anniversaries, the first being the 250th anniversary (1755-2005) of the beginning of the Acadian Deportation which took place in Acadie (peninsular Nova Scotia) and continued in 1758 on Isle Saint-Jean (now P.E.I.), especially as regards the Pointe-Prime area, and the second being the 700th anniversary (1305-2005) of the martyrdom of William Wallace.

The text of the much bigger plaque was composed by three members of the Sister Antoinette DesRoches Historical Committee (Francis Blanchard, David Le Gallant, Georges Arsenault) while the text of the bottom smaller plaque was composed by David Le Gallant on behalf of the Association du Musée acadien de l’Î.-P.-É. and Ken Emery on behalf of our Belfast Historical Society.

The date of the said peculiar occurrence was June 25th, 2005, the morning before the official dedication of the cäirn which was to take place at 2 o’clock the next day.

Ken Emery, the president of the Belfast Historical Society at the time, was on the site checking for last minute details before the dedication, when he happened across an extremely tall, strong elderly Scotsman who stood about 6 feet, 6 inches at least.
This very rugged-looking, upright gentleman had long, long arms and large strong bony knuckles and was wearing a tweed cap and a tweed jacket. In his hand he carried a large gnarled wooden walking stick. Ken was working introduced himself, and the Scots gentleman told him his name was Mr. Brown and that he was from Ottawa.

The mysterious gentleman stood by the cäirn looking at the inscription, reading it very slowly. Down at the bottom of the plaque was a short description of William Wallace.

In a few moments he finished reading the inscription and he said the French were very fine people, and then he went on to talk about William Wallace, and Ken felt from the way he talked that Ken himself should have known William Wallace.
The gentleman asked Ken if he had ever seen Wallace’s sword. Ken said he hadn’t, but would like to see it, but he had never been to Scotland, though would like to go if he ever got the chance.

The strange gentleman then went on, with very descriptive and detailed directions as to where to go in Scotland, and that Wallace’s sword was on display at an abbey in Scotland, describing the sword almost as if it were his own. The handle was about a foot long and there was a chunk missing from the tip of the blade, but there was still at least five- and-a-half feet of blade remaining well above the handle.

After a few more moments he mentioned to Ken that he understood there was a Free Church of Scotland in the area and he would like to see it, so Ken took him up to the location.

As they were walking, he referred back to the French. He said ‘‘I like to spend my summers where the gold is’’. And Ken asked him where that might be, and he said it was in Val d’Or in Québec, and that he often stayed there in the summer months – very much appreciated the hospitality and the friendship he found among the very fine people of the region.

Ken told him about the dedication ceremonies to be held the next day, that he was welcome to attend, but the gentleman said he had only a very short time to be here and that he had to be on his way, but he enjoyed very much meeting Ken and seeing the dedication cäirn for the French people and the fitting remembrance of William Wallace, and that this had been the most interesting thing of all to him, in his journeys through eastern Canada.

He shook Ken’s hand (and Ken has a very large hand) and the stranger’s hand was so large, it completely covered Ken’s entire hand. Then the mysterious visitor, who was driving alone, got in his dark-colored van and drove away.

That was the last Ken saw of him, and he hasn’t seen or heard of him since.

The unusual aspect of the story is that, upon his first encounter with this exceedingly tall, rugged elderly gentleman, Ken sensed something almost unnatural, even strange – that seemed to emanate from this man. His very first impression when he first laid eyes on this very tall, strong gentleman, before they even began their conversation was ‘‘Well, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was Wallace himself, dropping by to check on the memorial cäirn, and that he most certainly approved of it, giving his blessing’’.

And that was the mysterious encounter Ken had experienced at the memorial cäirn.

And now, a personal note to you, David Le Gallant, and your Association, from Ken himself:

I felt that you might like to have this letter in remembrance of all the events that seemed to occur in an almost magical way – how everything came about; the cäirn that exceeded 12,000 lbs., and the unique shape of it, like the prow of a ship, and the people that turned out from all denominations and cultures.

I would like to thank you for the great unrelenting effort and dedication that you gave to myself and our society, to further the history of the Acadian people who once lived in our area. They will always be remembered due to you and your Acadian Museum Association’s wonderful contribution.

On behalf of the Belfast Historical Society and myself, we wish you the blessings of God and thank you for the great work you have done in keeping the knowledge that you have, to continue the furthering of the causes of you and your people. You and all the members of the Acadian community will always be welcome in the community of the Scots of Belfast, Prince Edward Island. Thank you and God Bless.

Sincerely,
Ken Emery, President,
Belfast Historical Society

[Submitted to David Le Gallant, past president of both the Acadian Museum Association of P.E.I. and the Sister Antoinette DesRoches Historical Committee, by Jayne K. Emery, on behalf of her father, Ken Emery, and all the members of the Belfast Historical Society].

Our heartfelt sympathy to the Emery Family and to members of the Belfast Historical Society.

Mrs. Saundra Emery and her daughter Jayne
(Wood Islands, November 21st, 2007)

 

Félix LeBlanc – Milicien, Activiste, Aquadient

2005 par Earle Lockerby

Earle Lockerby

 

For some years, and particularly from 1749 to 1756, Île Saint-Jean was viewed by many residents of British dominated Acadia as a refuge – a place still under the French crown to which they could relocate. The founding of Halifax in 1749, the erection the following year of Fort Edward at Pisiquid (Windsor) and the subsequent fortification of the Isthmus of Chignecto, by both the British and the French, created tensions and political uncertainty for many Acadians. Matters were not helped by disagreements over the location of the boundaries of Acadia. Census and other records suggest that roughly 3000 Acadians chose to move to Île Saint-Jean. For the vast majority of these migrants, little is known of them as individuals, other than what is provided by census data and parish records. For many of them, however, not even these kinds of records (where indeed they have survived) reflect their residency on Île Saint-Jean. There are a few exceptions wherein either surviving court documents or petitions to the crown do provide interesting glimpses into the lives of such individuals. One such person is Félix LeBlanc who arrived on Île Saint-Jean in 1756.

In 1774, sixteen years after being deported from Île Saint-Jean to France, Félix, by then a resident of Châtellerault, France, sent a petition to the French King. He requested compensation for his services to the King during the last eight or so years of his time in North America, and for the personal burdens and sacrifices attending his service and loyalty to the King. The three-page petition, including one page recording the names of twenty-five Acadians supporting the petition, is quite difficult to read on account of the style of handwriting, orthography, phraseology and the fact that some words or portions of words are apparently missing as a result of damage to one edge of the original document.(1) The document, in transcribed form, is as follows :

Suplie – Et remontre trés humblement felix leblanc fil de Claude et de Jeanne Dugas agée de 53 ans originaire de la paroisse de St. Charles diosse de quebec, de present demeurant En Chattellerault.

Disant que le pere de son pere Etoit natif du port royal de l’accadie Et le pere de ce dernier Etoit françois et que lors du siege de Beausejour fait par les ennemis de là il fut fait par son Experience Enseigne avec Brevet pour le commandement de milices pour mille accadiens de ce poste. il fut fait Espion a la [ ? ] des accadiens, il fut Envoyé premierement aux mines par ordre de monsieur la corne, y remplit Son devoir deux autres voyages sous le même commandement avec reussite quoique Echapé de la voye de (? l’ennemi). Et de 50 hommes le poursuivant Et se retira à la faveur de la nuit il fut outre commandé pour quebec. Son zele pour son prince et les obstacles n’etoient que fleur au suppliant. Et a quebec il fut chargé des paquets de sa Majesté qu’il a raporté a monsieur Vergor commandant a Beausejour avec reussitte sy le suppliant avait Eu l’Ecriture et le loisir d’un Journal, if Serait flatté de sa conduitte Et declaré vrais françois il fut [ ? ] aux pont Buot avec 40 hommes a un passage il s’aquitta de son devoir et de Sa prudence ils firent 20 prisonniers ou plus et on tuez 20 a 22. Ensuitte il fut avec la compagnie ou il Etait sous le commandement de monsieur paul d’aigre au siege que l’enemy de l’etat fit et y fit fasse sans blessure apres 18 a 20 joursil fallut Se rendre.

Il a Eté prisonnier de guerre pour recompense Et sacrifié saisi transferé par les anglois a la Caroline de ce lieu il deserta avec sa famille qu’il prit sous sa conduitte a la riviere Saint Jean ou il Joignit les francais commandé par monsieur Boisbert Ensuitte monsieur Boisbert leurs accorda permission de se retirer a L’Isle Saint Jean ou ils ont demeurés. Il se ressent des peines et fatigues de toutes les miseres ou il a Eté reduits et [ ? ] dont il en est fort incommodé. Le suppliant fut Commandé pour le roy par monsieur Villejouin pour L’Isle Royalle Et sa mission Etoit Courrier puisqu’il portoit les paquets a leur Destination apres Ses fonctions il fut renvoyé a L’Isle St. Jean. Le siege de louisbourg fait avec reussitte et il a Eté du nombre des prisonniers d’Etat et passé a Boulogne En mer dans le parlementaire Le Neptune.

Sy recompense ou gratification doit Etre a un bon sujet Et dont son corps se ressent de grande incommodité, le suppliant par la verification et les temoins qui sont denommez cy dessus pour temoignage de la verite doit anisy recompensé. C’est pourquoy Monseigneur Soyez de votre grace Specialle, propice et Son vray Remunerateur il ne [assurera ?] et Sa famille de prier dieu pour votre precieuse Santé Monseigneur. de votre trés illustre famille Et de la maison Royalle et a signé Ce qui Chattellerault

Le 29 9bre 1774                               Felix Leblanc, aquadient

Because Félix identified his parents (Claude LeBlanc and Jeanne Dugas), we know how he fits genealogically into the LeBlanc family.(2) His father was a first cousin of Acadian patriot Joseph LeBlanc dit Le Maigre, the most renowned, some would say notorious, LeBlanc of his time.(3) Born at Grand-Pré in 1719, Félix had apparently relocated by 1749 or 1750 to the Chignecto region. The outline of his service, as presented in the petition, is obviously not totally in chronological order.

Félix mentions serving as a spy under M. La Corne. The latter was in Acadia only from late 1749 until late 1750 and during this time organized militia units in the Chignecto region. On two occasions in 1750 Louis La Corne (known as Chevalier La Corne) and his troops also engaged in hostile action against Charles Lawrence who was sent to the area to build a fort. In the spring of that year Lawrence was driven off, but in the fall returned to successfully establish Fort Lawrence. Félix’s close encounter with 50 British soldiers would likely have occurred sometime over the next several years when skirmishes occasionally occurred between British troops and French forces or their Mi’kmaq allies. Louis Du Pont Duchambon de Vergor took over the command of Fort Beauséjour in the latter part of 1754, so Félix’s trip to Québec would have been some time between then and the commencement of the siege of the fort at the beginning of June of the following year. During the siege, Félix was one of several hundred Acadians of the region who took up arms against the British – some defended the fort from within, while others went on the attack against British soldiers in the countryside. The majority did so indifferently and unenthusiastically. A firefight occurred at Pont-à-Buot between the British besiegers and French defenders on June 4, 1755 as a prelude to the taking of the fort.

The claim of 20 or more British soldiers having been taken prisoner and 20 to 22 killed is a gross exaggeration. A total of seven journals have survived, all written by officers who were present – four British and three French. All are unanimous on the number of British soldiers taken prisoner – a grand total of one throughout the two weeks (not 18 to 20 days, as indicated by Félix) during which the campaign lasted. As for the number of British soldiers killed in the campaign, the journals are less consistent. Nevertheless, it would appear that British losses were no less than two and no more than five, including the one man who had been taken prisoner – he died accidentally as a result of a British bomb striking the casement in which he was being incarcerated.

Paul Daigre, under whose command Félix served for at least part of the siege at Fort Beauséjour, himself had close connections to Île Saint-Jean. He appears to have settled at Malpec about 1750 and was living there in 1752 at the time of Sieur de la Roque’s census. Census records for Aulac during the winter of 1754-1755 show that he was by then living in the Chignecto region. Since considerable numbers of residents of Chignecto were in those years relocating to Île Saint-Jean to get away from political and military tensions and uncertainty, it is quite possible, or even probable, that Daigre moved in the reverse direction specifically to play a role in the British/French conflict.

Félix and his family (wife, Marie-Josèphe Thériot, and at least two children) were, according to his petition, among those deported to Carolina in the aftermath of the battle at Fort Beauséjour. Their return to the Maritimes occurred the following spring. In two letters, Québec governor Vaudreuil reported that five Acadian families (50 people in total) had arrived on the Saint John River on 16 June from Carolina, and that M. Villejouin had sent a boat to Cocagne to pick up 85 Acadians of whom 16 were among those who had returned from Carolina.(4) It is well known that Charles Boishébert played a major role in assisting Acadian refugees in present-day New Brunswick during the years 1756-1757, particularly along the Saint John River, and in refugee camps along the Northumberland Strait. He is known to have facilitated the passage of some refugees to Île Saint-Jean.

M.Villejouin, who provided employment to Félix, is Gabriel Rousseau de Villejouin, major and commandant of Île Saint-Jean from 1754 to 1758, the year that approximately 3000 Island Acadians were deported to France.(5) One interesting bit of information revealed by the petition is that the cartel vessel which carried deportees to Boulogne was the Neptune. It was previously known that one of the vessels which left Port La Joye was the Neptune. It was also known that one of the vessels had discharged its human cargo at Boulogne rather than at Saint-Malo, where most of the other vessels docked. This anomaly occurred on account of bad weather which blew the vessel further up the English Channel than the captain had wanted, and, perhaps also, because of provisions running low. Archival information which survives at Boulogne tells of the arrival of the vessel from Île Saint-Jean, but neglects to mention the name of the vessel. Though the petition refers to Boulogne-en-Mer, the form «Boulognesur-Mer» is used today, and is frequently shortened to, simply, Boulogne.

Lastly, the petition illustrates a commonly found form of shorthand used to denote calendar dates on eighteenth century French documents. One might (mistakenly) think that “le 29 9bre 1774” refers to 29 September 1774, September being the ninth month of the year. The date of the petition is in fact 29 November, 1774. “Neuf” is derived from the Latin novem, and in the Roman calendar, which had, as does our modern calendar, 12 lunar months, the first month was Martius (mars), while the ninth was November.

Félix LeBlanc’s petition presents a glimpse of his life during the 1750s and tells us a bit about his character. Though the information is somewhat limited, it is considerably more than is available for most of his contemporaries during a period when Île Saint-Jean went through much turmoil. It is not known whether his petition was successful.Félix LeBlanc was not an ordinary or typical Acadian. At the same time, he and Paul Daigre were certainly not unique. It is reliably documented that during the 1750s other Acadians resident on Île Saint-Jean made trips to the mainland to participate in the siege of Beauséjour and that of Louisbourg – in the latter case a group of Island Acadians (estimates variously range from 100 to 400) were put under the command of Boishébert. And in an incident reported to Vaudreuil by Villejouin,

un détachment de 60 Acadiens de bonne volonté prit un nombre de chevaux et quarante boeufs aux environs du fort de Pégéguit, tua 13 Anglois et en blessés quatre, se rendit maitre d’un magasin dans lequel il y avoit trois cents barriques de blé, 60 barriques de farine, quatre-vingt-dix quarts de lard et dix tierçons de beurre, et après avoir fait provisions il y mit le feu. Il brûla aussi cinq cents gerbes de froment, deux granges, une boulangerie et un moulin.(6)

There is one way however in which our Félix is unique. According to genealogist Stephen White, Félix Le-Blanc’s family is the sole family which was deported to the American colonies in 1755 and to France in 1758. One of Félix’s daughters, Marie-Blanche, had the unenviable distinction of being the sole Acadian deported four times by the British – in 1755 from Chignecto to South Carolina; in 1758 from Île Saint-Jean to France; in 1778 from Saint-Pierre and Miquelon to France; and in 1794 from Saint-Pierre and Miquelon to Boston.(7)  

 lockerby@nbnet.nb.ca

1          The original document is believed to be in France. A copy exists at the Centre d’études acadiennes at the Université de Moncton as CEA A9-3-10. The author is indebted to Stephen White for bringing the document to his attention, and for certain genealogical information regarding Paul Daigre; especially to Georges Arsenault for valuable assistance in transcribing the document;  and to Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc for deciphering several of the most difficult words.

2          For a more genealogical treatment of Félix LeBlanc, see Stephen White’s article at http://www.historiatv.com/origines/3_11_stephen_white.htm

3          Joseph LeBlanc dit Le Maigre was for many years a thorn in the side of British authorities in Acadia, actively opposing the regime. See Bernard Potier, « Joseph LeBlanc dit Le Maigre », Dictionnaire Biographique du Canada, Vol. III (Québec, 1974) pp. 395-396.

4          Vaudreuil to Minister, August 6 and 7, 1756, Archives Nationales, Paris, Archives des Colonies (AC), Série C11A, Vol. 101, pp.73-82 and 83-88, respectively.

5          See Earle Lockerby, “The Deportation of the Acadians from Ile St.-Jean”, 1758, Acadiensis, XXVII, 2, 1998, pp. 45-94 and Earle Lockerby, “Deportation of the Acadians from Île St.-Jean, 1758”, The Island Magazine, No. 46, 1999, pp. 17-25.

6          Vaudreuil to Minister, 19 April 1757, AC, C11A, Vol. 102, pp. 8-11.

7          Stephen A. White. « Rapport du Secteur Généalogie », Contact-Acadie, No 34, 2004, p. 26

 

 

Attempted genocide of the Acadian and Mi’kmaq Nations

2005 par Daniel N. Paul

Daniel N. Paul

 

In early 1755 the Acadian Deputies were summoned to Halifax by Governor Lawrence and ordered to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. This they refused to do, contending, as they had with Cornwallis in 1749, that if they did so the French would set the Indians against them and they would be massacred. The English lost no time in responding. Colonel Robert Monckton rounded up the Acadians in Chignecto, while Colonel John Winslow ordered those at Minas to assemble at Grand Pré. They were loaded into the holds of ships and scattered to the four corners of the world. Families were separated, never to see one another again, and untold numbers died in transport.

The Mi’kmaq faithfully stuck by their Acadian allies to the bitter end. Some of the Acadians tried to escape and were aided and protected by the Mi’kmaq to the best of their ability. The Mi’kmaq also joined forces with them to drive back the British, as was reported by the French Governor:

“The British burned the Village, including the Church at Chipoudy and was responded to thus. Mr. Boishebert, at the head of 125 Indians and Acadians, overtook them at the  River Pelkoudiak, attacked and fought them for three hours, and drove them vigorously back to their vessels. The English had 42 killed and 45 wounded. Mr. Gorham, a very active English Officer, was among the number of the wounded.  We lost 1 Indian, and had three others wounded.”

Many Acadians went into hiding among the Mi’kmaq and remained with them until the British and French ended their hostilities in 1763. A group of several hundred were hidden by the Mi’kmaq in the area known today as Kejimkujik National Park. The Expulsion order was almost universal.  Even individuals who had sworn allegiance to the British Crown and been promised the right to live peacefully in their ancestral homes were included.  Professor Jeffery Plank, University of Cincinnati, states:

Everyone involved understood the conflict to be a race war…. During the 1750s the politics of Nova Scotia centered on issues of national identity. At various times during the decade, the British engaged in combat with several different peoples who inhabited, or passed through, Nova Scotia: The Micmac, the French… and the Acadians… The British governors of Nova Scotia generally believed that they were surrounded by enemies, that the Acadians, the Micmac and the French would soon find a way to cooperate and overthrow British rule. One of the principle (sic) aims of British policy, therefore, was to keep these people separated, to isolate the Micmac, the Acadians, and the French. To achieve this goal of segregation, the colonial authorities adopted two draconian policies. In 1749 the governor began offering bounties for the scalps of Micmac men, women and children. The aim of this program was to eliminate the Micmac population on the peninsula of Nova Scotia, by death or forced emigration. In 1755 the British adopted a different but related strategy: it deported the Acadians, and relocated them in safer colonies to the west. Viewed in the abstract, these two programs, to pay for the deaths of the Micmac and to relocate and absorb the Acadians, represented very simple thinking. The colonial authorities who endorsed these programs placed the inhabitants of Nova Scotia into two categories, Europeans and savages, and treated them accordingly.

In retrospect, I don’t believe that the Mi’kmaq and Acadians could have ever escaped their fate. The paranoia and racism harboured by the British would never have permitted it. Today, the Acadians have in hand a half-hearted apology from the Crown for the horrors committed against their ancestors. However, the Crown stubbornly refuses to apologize for the horrors committed against the Mi’kmaq by Governors Edward Cornwallis and Charles Lawrence. Cornwallis, as the record witnesses, attempted Genocide, yet he is still widely honoured. A blot on this society that no decent human being can ever defend.

***************************

We are upon a great and noble Scheme of sending the neutral French out of this Province,  who have always been secret Enemies, and have encouraged our Savages  to cut out throats. If we effect their Expulsion, it will be one of the greatest Things that ever the English did in America; for by all accounts, that Part of the Country they possess is as good Land as any in the World : in case therefore we could get some good English Farmers in their Room,  this Province would abound with all kinds of Provisions.

- news dispatch from Nova Scotia, printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette,
Sept. 4th, 1755

 

 

A Cajun’s Perspective on the Acadian Deportation: Beausoleil Broussard’s Resistance, Redemption and Legacy

2005 par Warren A. Perrin

Warren A. Perrin

 

In 2004, Acadians the world over celebrated the 400th anniversary of the genesis of our people and culture in North America. Our Acadian roots are in France, but it was only after 1604 that a people known as “les Acadiens” (and later as “Cadiens” or “Cajuns” in Louisiana) emerged. There can be no better time than the 250th anniversary of the Acadian Deportation in 2005 to revisit the role played by Joseph dit Beausoleil Broussard (b. 1702-d. 1765) in the diaspora.

It is said that extraordinary times produce extraordinary people. That was certainly the case with Beausoleil.  But to say that “Le Grand Dérangement” was an extraordinary time is a gross understatement. It is one of the darkest chapters in North American history in that it represents the first -  and perhaps the only – example of ethnic cleansing of Neo-Europeans in the history of the continent. Beginning in 1755 and ending in 1763, British and New England militia cleared Acadia of Acadians. It is impossible to capture in words the agony, pain, suffering and humiliation of the Acadians during the years of expulsion. Thousands of Acadians died of disease and malnutrition on overcrowded and under-rationed British ships. Thousands more were imprisoned in England and Nova Scotia. Yet, despite insurmountable odds, the Acadians fought back with Beausoleil Broussard as the leader of their insurgency.

Centuries later, modernity would call Beausoleil’s tactics, “guerilla warfare”. Beausoleil simply called it “la guerre”. He was a brave man, but the fighters  – farmers, fishermen and trappers – armed with agricultural implements, homemade knives, swords,  and an occasional rifle – were no match for the British Empire. Unlike many other Acadians who chose to accept their fate, that of forcible exile by the British, Beausoleil, who had learned much about aboriginal warfare tactics from his good friends the Mi’kmaq, decided to fight. As a result, he and his family suffered greatly and spent the last years of “Le Grand Dérangement” under heavy guard in Halifax’s Georges Island prison. When the French and Indian War (American designation for the “Seven Years War”) ended, and he and his family were released from prison, he led his people to a “New Acadia”. We do not know that  the result of his efforts allowed the Acadian culture to continue developing in a new environment. Beausoleil led many of his people to Louisiana’s bayou country, allowing those Acadians to live in peace and community once again and to maintain their cultural identity. This identity continued to evolve as a vibrant part of  the American mosaic.

For two centuries, the collective consciousness of the exiles pined for a grand hero, someone of their own cultural identification with the charismatic stature of a Napoleon. In the beginning they had many heroes and knew them quite personally, but the distances of time and geography, continuous ethnic persecution by humiliation and fragmented isolation had eroded their history. There was also, apparently, a reluctance to remember. Perhaps the past was just too painful, each successive present too tense with difficulty and the only goal for the future, one of simple survival. Whatever the cause, in Louisiana, where a large number of the émigrés settled, the paucity of written or oral history or even folksongs pertaining to the aftermath of the Deportation  was astounding.

The beautiful depiction of Beausoleil by the Acadian Antonine Maillet in her excellent novel Pélagie-la-Charette (Pélagie of the cart), about the journey of a motley group of Acadian exiles  and others picked up along the way from Georgia back to Canada overland in the first years after the mid-eighteenth century deportations, is fictional. The famous Acadian freedom fighter makes a cameo appearance  in the narrative and Maillet blithely knocks at least twenty years off his age, ignores the man’s wife and numerous children, restores his sexual virility and remakes him into the lover of the protagonist. This is the way legends have been born across the ages.

The real Beausoleil appears to have been a colourful, enigmatic and charismatic man, a revolutionary whom the British characterized as a rogue and an outlaw.  To the Acadians, Beausoleil was revered as a patriot. His true character was somewhere in-between; that is, he was not necessarily always a righteous, upstanding pillar of the Acadian community, but neither was he the murderous blackguard the British made him out to be. Although forbidden by British law to do so, as a young man Beausoleil consorted with the Mi’kmaq of the area, with whom he was on good terms. In his early twenties, he was found to have fathered a child out of wedlock and was involved in various other civil and physical disputes with neighbours.

In Louisiana, we say “Lâche pas la patate” (Don’t drop the potato). Life may be a hot potato, but Cajuns feel they cannot drop it because it may turn out to be all they have to eat! Beausoleil had every opportunity to learn this. He was – and continues to be in the cultural consciousness – an example of a man who lost a war, a homeland and much of his extended family to death. Beausoleil was literally destroyed by exile in a physical way. He was forced into an environment where a disease (yellow fever) which was nonexistent in his homeland, provided him no natural resistance and periodically sliced through the countryside with the sickle of death. It was a horrid death, too.  Victims often vomited black, congealed blood and bled from their eyes. And yet, after all the suffering and numerous defeats, somehow through his progeny he eventually won.

In 1763, after the majority of the  Acadians had already been deported, Governor Wilmot offered the Acadians still remaining in Nova Scotia, including Beausoleil, and his troublesome rag-tag band of guerrilla fighters, the opportunity to stay and become “good British subjects”, provided they took the oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Many accepted the offer, however, Beausoleil refused to do so. Why? Perhaps it was due to his obstreperous personality, his love of liberty, his unquenchable desire to escape British rule, or to his training with the Mi’kmaq. More likely, it was due to his intense passion for his Acadian heritage. Beausoleil was a descendant of the first Neo-Europeans who had left feudalism and oppression behind to forge a new found freedom and identity in this place called “Acadie”. That identity, inherited from his ancestors, represented the years of struggle that they had experienced in order to give Beausoleil and his children the opportunity to live in a land free of servitude to tyrannical governments where they could live in peace and practise their own religion.

Although we know that Beausoleil was extremely anti-British and had a contentious, militant character, one must conclude by the sheer number of Acadian descendants in Louisiana today that his life’s ultimate struggle did, in the end, merit him the distinction of being the foremost champion of the Acadian culture. Like many other significant historical icons, he set out to accomplish one thing and ended up accomplishing something far more positive. From our vantage point in the twenty-first century, what did Beausoleil actually accomplish?  At what cost? And how and why did he become such a folk hero?

In the beginning, it appears that revenge was his motivation for leading the resistance against the British. Revenge may, at times, be a natural human response to certain situations, but it is not a positive motivation. Because of his tenacity, many of his decisions resulted in the tragic loss of the lives of family members and fellow insurgents. Toward the end of his military efforts against the British, when he must have finally realized the fruitlessness of continuing his resistance – after even France gave up  the fight – only then did he set out about uniting Acadian families and preparing to depart from his beloved homeland to what he hoped would be a better life in a “New Acadia”.

According to Louisiana historian Dr. Shane K. Bernard in his book The Cajuns: Americanization of a People, the Cajun people have evolved dramatically since Beausoleil’s lifetime. Would he recognize today’s Cajuns as his descendants? The Cajuns of the early twentieth century differed relatively little from their Acadian ancestors. Like the exiles, Cajuns before the mid-twentieth century worked as subsistence farmers; if not farmers, they held other folk occupations, such as trapping, fishing, moss-picking, logging and boat-building.

Around 1940 however, the Cajuns’ world began to change with increasing rapidity: the engine of change was World War II. Unlike previous historical events, this global conflict and its aftermath served as major Americanization agents in south Louisiana, resulting, for instance, in the near demise of Cajun French by the end of the century: in 1990, only  about 30 per cent of Cajuns spoke the dialect as their first language, and most of these were middle-aged or elderly.

The unifying thread of recent Cajun history is Americanization  – the process of becoming like the Anglo-American establishment that has traditionally dominated the nation’s mainstream culture. Americanization meant embracing the work ethic, materialism and patriotism of Anglo-America, all of which were foreign to the majority of Cajuns before World War II. It also meant speaking English, despite the fact that the Cajuns and their forebears had spoken French as their primary language since coming to America three centuries earlier. Americanization thus ranks as one of the most important events in the entire Cajun experience, along with the expulsion of the ancestors from Nova Scotia, and south Louisiana’s devastation during the Civil War. These events resulted in fundamental changes that forever altered the nature of the ethnic group.

Beginning in the 1960s however, the Cajuns, swept up in the national trend of ethnic pride and empowerment, mobilized to save their culture. The rise of a grassroots Cajun pride movement and a parallel, more organized movement led by CODOFIL (the Council for Development of French in Louisiana), signalled the Cajuns’ efforts to reclaim their heritage through a variety of measures: from protecting the French language in the state constitution of 1974, to demanding in the Petition of 1990 that the  British Crown acknowledge its mistreatment of the Acadians during the Deportation.

The Petition alleged that the Acadian expulsion had not only been illegal according to international law of the period, but the expulsion order, an overt act of “ethnic cleansing” had never been repealed. On September 14th, 2004 on the occasion of the opening of the new session of the Canadian Court of Appeal in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Justice Michel Bastarache of the Canadian Supreme Court in Ottawa stated:

Then came the Deportation order which itself was illegal because it was contrary to British public law and also because it was passed without the vote of the assembly. The event which primarily inspired the Petition was passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1998, which apologized for America’s internment of about 120,000 U.S. citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

The Petition of 1990 may successfully have been resolved on December 9th, 2003 with Queen Elizabeth’s Canadian Royal Proclamation. Beausoleil Broussard undoubtedly would have looked upon this act approvingly as a form of redemption. Nevertheless, after the passage of 250 years, the legacy of the Acadian Deportation continues to define both the Cajun people in general and Beausoleil in particular.  

 

Déportation des Acadiens de la paroisse Saint-Paul de la Pointe-Prime, 1758

2005 par La Petite Souvenance

 

The memory of evil will serve as a shield against evil.

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize, 1986

 

Naufrage du Duke William

Suivant la capitulation de Louisbourg en juillet 1758, les Britanniques prirent l’île Saint-Jean (Î.-P.-É.) et déportèrent la plupart de ses habitants en France. Les Acadiens de la paroisse Saint-Paul de la Pointe-Prime habitaient depuis 1750 – 1751 un territoire qui partait de la Grande-Anse et se prolongeait jusqu’à Belle-Rivière.

Des quelque 1 650 morts survenus sur les transports britanniques pendant la traversée, près de 400 de ces déportés avaient été rassemblés à partir des établissements de la paroisse Saint-Paul de la Pointe-Prime et contraints à embarquer sur le Duke William, le 20 octobre 1758. La plupart de ceux-ci étaient originaires de Cobequit (Truro, N.-É.).  Sauf pour le père Jacques Girard, le curé de Saint-Paul, avec quatre de ses paroissiens et l’équipage britannique, ils furent tous engloutis dans la Manche près des côtes de l’Angleterre lors du naufrage dudit Duke William, le 13 décembre 1758.

ÉTABLISSEMENTS ACADIENS DE LA PAROISSE

SAINT-PAUL DE LA POINTE-PRIME

Anse-à-Pinet (Stewart Cove) Pointe-Prime (Belfast Cove)

Grande-Ascension (Orwell River / Vernon River)

Grande-Anse (région Pownal Bay area)

ACADIAN SETTLEMENTS OF THE PARISH OF

SAINT-PAUL DE LA POINTE-PRIME

Deportation of the Acadians of the parish of Saint-Paul de la Pointe-Prime, 1758

Shipwreck of the Duke William

In the aftermath of the surrender of Louisbourg in July 1758, the British took possession of île Saint-Jean (P.E.I.) and deported most of its inhabitants to France. The Acadians of the parish of Saint-Paul de la Pointe-Prime occupied, since 1750-1751, a territory which began at Grande-Anse and extended as far as Belle-Rivière.

Of the approximate 1 650 deaths that occurred on the British transports during the crossing, close to 400 of these deportees had been gathered from the settlements of the parish of Saint-Paul de la Pointe-Prime and forced to embark on the Duke William on October 20th, 1758. Most of these originated from Cobequid (Truro, N. S.). Except for Father Jacques Girard, parish priest of Saint-Paul, with four of his parishioners and the British crew, all perished at sea when the Duke William sank in the English Channel not far from the coast of England on December 13th, 1758.

THE BELFAST HISTORICAL SOCIETY

COMITÉ HISTORIQUE SOEUR-ANTOINETTE-DESROCHES

ASSOCIATION DU MUSÉE ACADIEN DE L’ÎLE-DU-PRINCE-ÉDOUARD

 

Une plaque (ci-dessus) à la mémoire des déportés de la région de la Pointe-Prime et des naufragés du Duke William. Dévoilée au Musée acadien de l’Î.-P.-É., le 13 mars 2005. (Photo : La Voix acadienne, le 16 mars 2005)

Reflection on our Acadian identity

2004 par James Perry

James Perry1

 The Acadian James Perry is an industrial electrician at Cavendish Farms, a frozen French fry manufacturer in New Annan, Prince Edward Island. In his spare time, he is an amateur historian and genealogist. He has previously written articles for The Ancestral Home Newsletter (www.acadian-home.org) and The Louisiana Genealogical Register. He lives in Summerside with his wife, Dianne, daughters Melanie and Carolyn and son Christopher.

 

It is hard to put one’s finger on just when or where I became interested about my Acadian history and heritage. Some of those feelings go back to when I was a young boy. Most of the feelings I have are of a personal nature, a sense of where I belong, who I am, why I do things the way I do. I know I am not unique in this interest, many people the world over search out their ancestors for many different reasons. Someone told me once that genealogy is the world’s second most popular hobby, next to stamp collecting and ahead of coin collecting. I personally like the Latter-Day Saints’ wording; they call it «Family History Research», for without the history, all we have are names, dates and places. There is  so so much more to the story.

One thing that was a direct influence was that I was from a French-Acadian family, but nobody could speak French. My family would visit my grandparents in Summerside where French was spoken; we would visit my mom’s Uncle Georges in Mont-Carmel, bringing my grandmother along. They all spoke French there. My father’s parents also spoke French. In fact, my paternal grandfather John B., as he was called, spoke and wrote both English and French fluently despite only finishing Grade 2 or 3. My maternal grandfather only learned English in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. His young daughters would read to him from their schoolbooks. I did not find this lack of French language skills unique or strange. We were «French» but spoke English. We were like the relatives whom Georges Arsenault spoke about : «we were French but did not speak the language». Where we lived at the time of my youth, it would have been better to speak Ukrainian or Inuit. There was no French language training in the schools I went to. There was no opportunity to learn even the basics of grammar and pronunciation. There was no one with whom to practise conversational French.

Our family were Acadian Islanders, and my parents somehow sought out other misplaced Islanders and had them for friends, the Bernards, the Gaudets and Gradys. They sat around in living rooms in military married quarters in out of the way places such as Yorkton, Saskatchewan, and Moosenee, Ontario, and talked about the Island, who married whom, who had babies, who got divorced. When we came «home» the scene was the same; only the people were different. Mom and Dad sat around at night with Granny and Granddad and with the  other relatives who were there and talked again  about people, who married whom, who had children, etc. We ate unusual foods like lobster, râpure, chicken fricot, chowder, yellow-eyed beans, bannock and French biscuits. I swear that if there were a fire at our house, my parents would have saved the grinder and râpure pans before my brother and me. When I was dating my future wife, I invited her over for a râpure supper. She’s from Nova Scotia English and Upper Canada Loyalist heritage, so I explained to her that if we had any future, she would have to learn to like râpure. Turned out, she loved it! She has even mastered how to make it. In a catastrophe, I wonder if she would not save the pans before the children, or maybe before the husband.

Another influence was that because my father joined the Canadian Air Force shortly after my birth, we lived in several areas across Canada. Despite where we lived, Summerside was referred to as «home». Sometime in February or March, the topic of «Are we going home this summer?» would come up.  Now we lived in comfortable accommodations, we had furniture and clothes wherever we lived. We had a roof over our heads, heat and water and four walls. But it was just where we lived. Home was Summerside! We did not own a building here or even land, but it was home !

As a youth, I remember lingering on the deck of the «Abegweit», the original one, not the modern plastic and fiberglass copy, and also on the «SS Prince Edward Island», just savoring the view of the coast of the Island. It is har d to explain the thrill or the excitement it gave me as the shoreline came into focus. You could smell it, you could see it, and you could feel it. Very, very few of my classmates and friends in Yorkton or Moosonee were from here. They did not take a ferry to go home. The ground of their homeland was not red. They did not know the colour of the Island clay, how it tastes when the wind blows it off the newly ploughed fields, the feel of it being wet and mushed between your toes. I was from a very unique and special place. I knew it then and I still know it now.

We once came very close to living here on the Island. My father was transferred to a place where there were no married quarters available. My mother, brother and I came home to live with my grand-mother on East Street. My cousin Darrell gave me some schoolbooks I would need in the classroom here in Summerside. Among them was a history book entitled The Story of Prince Edward Island by P. Blakely and M. Vernon. It was in 1965 and I was almost eleven. I read the book during my summer vacation. When we very quickly left to join my father as he had found a house for us to live in, I kept that book. I still have it. It has been read several times.

Another book that made an impact on my life was one my grandmother had on her bookshelf, The title was Cent Cinquantième Anniversaire de la paroisse N. D. du Mont-Carmel, 1812 – 1962. She showed me her parents’ names in it, and how she was descended from Paul Arsenault, one of the pioneer settlers of Mont-Carmel. I was hooked. I had to know more.

After my graduating from College in 1975 and beginning my career, I seriously started to research my Acadian heritage. With my English Loyalist wife in tow, we visited the parishes of Baie-Egmont, Miscouche, Mont-Carmel, Wellington, Tignish, and Cascumpec. We visited «Le Village» and the Acadian Museum in Miscouche. I dragged her all over the Island, visiting graveyards and bookstores and historic sites. I started to acquire books, pamphlets, magazines and parish histories of the area. My family tree started to come together. I found out that my surname had not always been Perry, but Poirier. My grandfather changed it in the late 1920’s. I found out that all of my father’s brothers are named Joseph, every one of them used their second or even their third name, except the youngest; he got to use Joseph. My mother’s sisters are all christened Mary, be it Mary Bertha, Mary Edna, etc. They all use their second name as their common name. My mother, luckily the youngest of the girls, didn’t like her second name so she can use Mary, however she goes by Marie. The more I dug into this family history thing, the more passionate I became about it. The people in history became real and fascinating to me. Paul Arsenault, Germain Poirier, Xavier Gallant, and Jean Aucoin. The path led further back in time to Pierre Arsenault, Jehan Poirier and Jacob Bourgeois. And back to France, with side paths by way of the Melansons to England, the Caissies to Ireland, and Noiles to Holland. Who were all these people? Why did they come here? What were they like? How did they live?

At the time we were living in Truro, Nova Scotia, there was a lot to explore on that side of the Strait too : Beaubassin, Grand-Pré and Port-Royal. I remember my first visit to Grand-Pré. A feeling came over me that something terrible had happened there, despite its pastoral setting, I could feel the loneliness and the starkness of the place. I could see the expulsion, families torn apart, never to see each other again. On my office wall at home is a print of a famous painting depicting the scene of the expulsion. It serves as a reminder not to forget. A beautiful and scenic area forever marked by a tragic chain of events. The blood of innocent people, men, women, and children, speak from the grave «we should not be forgotten»,  and they are not forgotten.

Later in 1978, we moved to Mississauga, Ontario, and I took advantage of some of Canada’s largest libraries and bookstores to add to my information and collection. I was devouring reading material on the subject, both in a genealogical and a historical sense. Authors such as Bona Arsenault, Naomi Griffiths, Yvon Leger, Henri Blanchard, Michel Poirier and Ste-phen White. One day I found a copy of Georges Arsenault’s Complaintes acadiennes2. I signed it out from the library and kept renewing it for months. The librarian commented on my constant renewing and, because it was not really in great demand, she bent some of the library’s rules and allowed me to keep it longer. I read most of it with a French-English dictionary in one hand and the book in the other. It was my first attempt to read more than «born», «married», and «died» in French. The chapter in the Complaintes on Xavier Gallant enthralled me, as he was one of  my ancestors. I had to know more.  I had my parents, who live in Summerside, pick up locally published books that I couldn’t find in Ontario. Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays were exciting times, as I knew there were Acadian books coming.

The story of my people became alive, how a few families left France  for a new life in a faraway country.  How generation after generation moved from one place to another.  How the ravages of nature, weather and mice, only made them more intent to survive. How the tyranny of man only slowed them down, but they survived. How success came and went, and they survived. I remember researching one particular family, and within a few months, five of their children passed away, then the mother died. A little while later, the father remarried, and a whole new family started to arrive. How from tragedy he found some happiness in life.

I was reading recently about the journeyings of Father MacEachern. How he would travel from Malpèque  to St. Andrews, then back to Malpèque. Taking days and weeks, travelling by canoe, or snowshoe, horseback, and foot. Now we think nothing of jumping in the car and driving to Charlottetown for supper. One summer day we drove to Montague, then to Souris, up to East Point, over to Three Rivers, St. Peter’s, and Rustico, back to Charlottetown and then home to Summerside by way of Borden. The next day we drove up to Tignish and back through Baie-Egmont and Mont-Carmel. And finally to Miscouche before returning home. I thought how it took my ancestors several generations to go from Port-LaJoye to Summerside. I can do it now in a few hours.

Every day, I scan through The Journal-Pioneer for Acadian articles. I check out the obituaries and funerals. I compare any new information with the records in my database and add or correct them as required. I regularly check out the books available at the Centre J.-Henri-Blanchard, the Acadian Museum, the used-book stores in the area. In the past little while, we have been fortunate to see several excellent new books published. With great local historians and authors such as Georges Arsenault, Cecile Gallant, David Le Gallant, Jacinthe LaForest, and the late J. Henri Gaudet, we are regularly blessed with new and exciting publications. I thank them for their work and encourage them to continue to publish their research.

Sad to say, I have relatives and friends who mock the Acadian flag and shun their Acadian heritage as an embarrassment. I take pride in the fact that as a people we have a national flag, a national anthem, a national day. I take my young son with me to places such as the Acadian Museum, and the Centre J.-Henri-Blanchard. He looks up to me with his big brown eyes : «This is the Acadian place, dad?», he asks. He watches for flags and can identify our Canadian flag, the Summerside Flag, the Prince Edward Island flag, and our Acadian Flag. One day I bought one of those tricolor ties at the Acadian Museum. When I got it home, he claimed it as his own; it is his Acadian tie. I hope and pray he and our children throughout all the land will be proud of their Acadian heritage as I am.

As I continued my research, I was not and still am not satisfied with only knowing names and dates of my ancestors. I need to know more. I need to know how they lived, what they ate, what kind of clothes they wore, what they did for a living, etc. Were they farmers or fishermen? Did they have a trade? Were they merchants, or did they earn their wages working for someone else? Was their house a log home or a framed building? Did they have glass windows? Did they love lobster as a food or use it only as fertilizer? Did they eat biscuits or bannock? Did they love râpure as much as I do? Were they military men? Or were they opposed to war and fighting? Were they active in their religion? Or just going through the motions? Were their children their pride and joy? What was la Mi-Carême, or la Chandeleur? Did they have the same feelings I have, about the birth of a child, the death of a loved one? Do I have their nose shape, their eye or hair colour? How tall were they? Were they as passionate about where they lived as I am? I know some of these questions will never be answered, until I can ask them for myself in the next life. But I never tire of looking for the answers here and now.

There was a popular beer commercial a few months back, a young man extolling the virtues of being Canadian. I sometimes feel like that, but rather as an Acadian! We are not Québécois; our national day is August 15th, not June 24th. Our flag is the French Tricolor with the golden star in the blue representing our national patron saint, Our Lady of the Assumption. I personally do not speak French, but Acadians the world over speak many different languages, for we are a people without a homeland, banished in the 1750’s and dispersed all over the world.

We Island Acadians are the lucky ones, for we still occupy some of the lands where our ancestors first came. Many left for only a few years, some not at all, with proud names such as Arsenault, Poirier, Gallant, Gaudet, Bernard, Caissie, DesRoches and a couple of a dozen more. At one time I thought that Canadian history was boring, not at all like our neighbours to the south. But my studies of the pioneers of the Acadian parishes of Prince County have brought to life the exciting times they lived in. Hard times. happy times, sad times, good times. Many others and I are their legacy. The DNA in their bodies will match ours.

I remember reading somewhere about a young man who had a dream about going to heaven where he met his grandfather. They had so much to talk about, but all that the old man would ask was : «What have you done with my name?» Finally the young man answered, that he had done nothing that his grandfather would be ashamed of, that he was proud to bear the name of his grandfather and he would make him proud also. The grandfather thanked him and walked away. And the young man woke up, back in the world. We need to be proud of our ancestors. They lived and died in a harsh environment different from ours, so that we might have a better life, that we might enjoy freedom, in a great country. There are hundreds of thousands of Acadians throughout North America, from the Gulf of Mexico to Nunavut, from the Pacific Ocean to right here at home on the Atlantic coast. There are Acadians in France, and England, Spain and Italy, indeed all over the world. We are all cousins, related through the centuries.

With my interest came a desire to record on paper events from my grandparents’ lives. I rewrote a short biography an aunt had previously written on my paternal grandparents, had it printed and now make it available for aunts and uncles and cousins to have. It was so well received that I went back another generation, and then another. I have now started to do the same for my maternal grandparents. With the advent of computers I began entering my lineage into a database, in time it expanded to include brothers and sisters of my ancestors and their children. It now has almost 23,0003 names in it. Almost totally Acadian and mostly from the Prince County area of Prince Edward Island.

I really want to thank the people who are responsible for my being here in Miscouche today at this forum on «Acadian history and genealogy». First, an interesting lady from Maryland, Lucie Consentino, who has a very large and fantastic website on Acadia (www.acadian-home.org). She asked me via the Internet to write an article on Island Acadians for her Internet newsletter. Because of that article, Georges Arsenault contacted me and through emails, he asked me to participate here today. A couple of weeks ago, I met them both here at the museum. So I also wish to thank him for the opportunity to express my ideas in a public forum. Lastly, I would like to thank the members of the Sister Antoinette DesRoches Historical Committee. I think Sister Antoinette would have been very happy with what you are accomplishing here. I found the topics and articles regarding the forum last spring very interesting and informative, and this forum is the same. My paternal grandfather John B. Perry and Sister Antoinette were first cousins. Sister Antoinette told me many things about my grandfather and his family, which I had not known. She was a great woman and an Acadian patriot. I am not sure she would have approved of the name of the committee though, for she was a very humble servant of the Lord. But she is not here, physically, only in spirit, and I think it is very fitting that you would honor her memory by using her name in the committee’s designation.

I would like to close now with a quote that I find very suitable. It is from Antonine Maillet’s classic novel Pélagie-La-Charrette. The sea captain Beausoleil counsels Celina:

From here on it’s in the future one must look for roots.

And it’s my thinking that to count them all will need

lengthy journeyings far north and far south.

 

1        Talk delivered at the second «Forum on Acadian History and Heritage»
held at the Acadian Museum in Miscouche on November 4th, 2000 and
sponsored by the Comité historique Soeur-Antoinette-DesRoches.

La rédaction : cet article est le 2e sous la rubrique touchant à l’identité et
à la nationalité acadiennes :  voir Gordon Lavoie, Réflexion sur notre identité
acadienne, La Petite Souvenance, no 17,  p. 37.)

2          Georges Arsenault, Complaintes acadiennes de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard, Les
Éditions Leméac, Ottawa, 1980.

3          Now in 2004, there are over 30,000 names in the database.

 

The Saint-Philippe-et-Saint-Jacques Cemetery (Baie-Egmont), an example of a parish cemetery where one finds much precious information for genealogical research. (Photos : archives James Perry)

Discovering Local History Through Church Records of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord (1724-1758)

2003 par Earle Lockerby

Earle Lockerby

 

Saint-Pierre-du-Nord (centered at Havre Saint-Pierre) is one of five parishes which existed on Île Saint-Jean during the French regime, the others being Port-LaJoye (Saint-Jean-l’Évangéliste), Malpec (La Sainte-Famille), Saint-Louis-du-Nord-Est and Pointe-Prime (Saint-Paul).  Only the parish registers of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord and Port-LaJoye have survived.  The parish register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord
travelled to France with a shipload of deportees, aboard a British transport in the autumn of 1758, following the capture of Louisbourg by the British that year.

Island historians have long been aware of the parish register for Port-LaJoye, but such appears not to have been the case for that of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, the original of which resides today in an archives at St-Malo, France.1 Books, or chapters of books, dealing with Island Acadian history have referred to the register of Port-LaJoye without mentioning that of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  A relatively recent example of this is the book The Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island 1720-1979 which was published in 1979.

The first entry in the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord is dated July 19, 1724 and records the baptism of Magdelene Briand, daughter of Bernard Briand and Isabelle Saunier, both of whom were Mi’kmaq.  The priest administering these rites was Claude-François de Brevant who described himself as “prestre approuvé desservant dans la paroisse de St-Pierre en l’isle St Jean au déffaut d’un curé”.  Entries by Brevant span the period July 19 to September 16, 1724.

Of the first six entries, no less that five involve Mi’kmaq people.  Such entries may be found sprinkled throughout the register.  These confirm what is well known from other sources, namely that the French expended considerable efforts to have the native people embrace the Roman Catholic faith.  These entries not infrequently list French inhabitants as witnesses to church rites involving native people and as godparents in the case of baptisms.  This confirms the considerable degree of social intercourse which existed between the French settlers and the Mi’kmaq people.

What the first entry and other early entries also tell us is that in 1724 Saint-Pierre-du-Nord was a parish in its own right, not an adjunct to the parish of Port-LaJoye.  Moreover, a church existed in the settlement at this time.  A burial entry of August 24, 1724 reads “inhumés dans l’église”.  Several marriage entries subsequently state that the people were “assemblés dans l’église”.  The church may have been built in 1724 or possibly a year or two earlier.  We know that the church had a bell, the bell having been unearthed in 1870 near the known site of the church.2 The date 1723 was inscribed on the bell, suggesting that the church had this bell from about the time that the church was established.

The register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord shows that until the beginning of 1732 Saint-Pierre-du-Nord only occasionally had a priest.  The situation of Port-LaJoye from 1724-1732 was not a great deal better.  With the collapse of the fishery initiative of the Comte de Saint-Pierre, Île Saint-Jean became less important in the eyes of officials in Louisbourg and Paris, and had already lost in 1723 the two resident priests who had been at Port-LaJoye since 1721.  From time to time during the 1724-1732 period, priests came to Île Saint-Jean from Île Royale, i.e. Cape Breton, or from Acadia, staying for several days, a few weeks, or perhaps two or three months.

In early 1723 Father Mathieu François Le Paige was installed as the resident parish priest and he remained here almost continuously for seven and one half years.  Le Paige not only ministered to his flock at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, but also to people from outlying areas considered a part of the parish, including Tracadie, Havre-aux-Sauvages, Malpec and Pointe-de-l’Est.  In subsequent years, Baie-de-Fortune was added.  Occasionally the priest journeyed to these places.  The register provides us with the first known date when a priest ministered in the French settlement of Malpec, noted by Father Le Paige as being 15 leagues distant from Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  On May 1, 1735 at Malpec he married Marie Magdeleine Arsenault and Jean de Launay, and conducted two baptisms.  This had not been his first visit to Malpec.  He had been there at least one time prior to September 1734.

In 1739 Le Paige was succeeded by Father Gabriel Le Moign who had already been at Port-LaJoye a couple of years and who remained at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord for five years.  It is evident from a comparison of the registers for Port-LaJoye and Saint-Pierre-du-Nord that during the 1732-1744 period, Saint-Pierre-du-Nord enjoyed more stability in terms of priests than did Port-LaJoye.  Together, Le Paige and Le Moign served 12 years continuously at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, while during this period, no less than six different priests rotated through Port-LaJoye.  Perhaps that was a reflection of a broader social stability at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord where fishing was the major part of the economy, providing for trade and a small merchant class.  Saint-Pierre-du-Nord always had a greater population than Port-LaJoye – indeed, much greater for much of the existence of these two settlements.  Port-LaJoye was an administrative and military centre – those on administrative postings came and went and the troops garrisoned at Port-LaJoye were rotated yearly.  While the important officials lived at Port-LaJoye, Saint-Pierre-du-Nord was the wealthier community.

During the time that Louisbourg was occupied by the British from 1745 until 1749, one finds no entries in the register of Port-LaJoye.  However, there are a few entries in the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  In mid-August of 1745 Father Samuel Riou visited Saint-Pierre-du-Nord and performed a marriage and a baptism.  It is of some significance that he signed himself as a Récollet priest, “faisant les fonctions curiales de la paroisse de Malpec”.

These entries indicate two things:

1. That Malpec was established as a separate parish on Île Saint-Jean sometime before mid-1745, not in the early 1750s, as has been popularly believed.

2. That Malpec had a priest, probably resident in the community, some years before Father Dosque settled there in 1753.

The marriage which Father Riou of Malpec performed at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord on August 15, 1745 united Simon Billard and Marie Charpentier.  Though there is no hint of it in the register, there is an interesting story behind this marriage.  Simon Billard ws born in France and was a soldier in the garrison which in 1744 and 1745 was stationed at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord rather than at Port-LaJoye.  He was also a gunsmith and had some skills as a blacksmith.  While at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord he obviously fell in love with the local Acadian girl, Marie Charpentier.  Rather than evacuate to Quebec with his troop, following the fall of Louisbourg to the British in the summer of 1745, Billard chose to become a deserter and 2½ weeks later wedding bells were ringing at the church of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  A few years later when French administrative and military officials returned to the Island, Simon Billard as a deserter was in trouble.  However, a petition by the local inhabitants, emphasizing the valuable services that Billard had performed as a blacksmith, appears to have successfully extricated him.3 He and Marie raised a family at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord and in late 1758 found themselves in France, among the deportees from Île Saint-Jean.

Several other entries of interest took place during the period when Britain and France were at war.  On November 11, 1747 there is recorded an adult baptism of Dorothée, “négresse domestique” of Monsieur de la Borde.  This is confirmation that there were blacks on the Island under the French regime, a fact we know from other documents.  Jean Pierre Roma at Trois-Rivières had black slaves and a black “domestique” of Commandant Villejouin was deported with him from Port LaJoye in 1758.

After the war the first priest at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord was Charles de la Goudalie, who came here in 1751 at the age of 72, having had many years experience in Quebec and Acadia.  The outpost of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord must have been a challenging assignment for a man of his age and he left within a couple of months.  The next priest to practise at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord was Father Jacques Girard, who up until now has been associated only with the parish of Pointe-Prime.  He came from the parish of Cobequid (now Truro), and was at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord for four months in the summer of 1752.

Girard was succeeded at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord by Father Jean Marc Perronnel whose first entry was on Christmas day in 1752.  In an entry two weeks later he signed himself “curé missionnaire de St Louis du Nord Est et de St Pierre du Nord”.  The parish of Saint-Louis-du-Nord-Est had been established along the Rivière-du-Nord-Est (Hillsborough River) a year or two earlier – its church being in the present Scotchfort.  Father Perronnel had a presbytère, for in several instances he mentions conducting ceremonies there.  In this regard he was probably more comfortable than the priests or chaplains at Port-LaJoye who often had to make do with quarters in the area of the soldiers’ barracks.

In 1755 Father Perronnel performed two baptisms involving families from Pointe-de-l’Est.  From census records it is known that there were a few fishing families living near Pointe de l’Est from about 1720 to 1752, more specifically at North Lake which the French called Tranche Montagne.  The register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord indicates that they were still there in 1755 and there is no reason to believe that they were not there right up to 1758.  Thus Tranche Montagne presumably shares with Port-LaJoye and Saint-Pierre-du-Nord the distinction of being places on the Island which had French residents during the whole of the French regime from 1720 to 1758.

Father Perronnel kept Saint-Louis-du-Nord-Est under his wing until the arrival of Father Pierre Cassiet at that parish in 1753.  However, Perronnel was forced to return to France in 1755 on account of ill health – both physical and mental.4 He was replaced by Jean Biscarret who served until the British takeover, Father Biscarret’s last entry being on August 21, 1758 four days after Port-LaJoye capitulated to British forces.  At Port LaJoye, on the other hand, it appears that the priest left that parish in May of 1758 and entries in the register of that parish cease at that time.

This is not however the last entry in the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  On September 3 and 4, 1758 a burial and two marriages were conducted by Father Girard.  Curiously, these took place, not at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, but at Trois-Rivières, suggesting that by the close of the French regime this former French settlement again had a few settlers.  It has been said that the priests hurriedly married people that fall, as their embarkment into British transports was imminent.  Perhaps this was intended to prevent the separation of unmarried couples among different transports or somehow conferred other advantages which would be beneficial during the trip or upon arrival in France.  In any event, these two marriage entries of Girard would suggest that there may be some truth to this legend.  There may have been more such marriages, but under the chaotic conditions prevailing, it would not be surprising that they did not get recorded in the register.

One of the things which is evident from the register is that cross-parish marriages were not uncommon, suggesting a fair degree of movement of people and social intercourse between parishes.  The people of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord appear to have had a significant degree of communication with the parishioners of Malpec, despite the distance separating these two parishes.  A considerable number of baptisms and marriages involving settlers of Malpec may be found in the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.

Some names stand out as frequent witnesses or godparents at baptisms, marriages and funerals, suggesting that these individuals occupied a certain position of respect, distinction or leadership.  Marie Roger’s name stands out as does that of her husband, François Douville, and others in the Douville family.  Jean Baptist Veco, Jacques Veco, Jacques Oudy, Louis Aubin LeBuff, the community doctor, Dominique DuClos, and Louis Talbot are a few others.  Talbot conducted a number of burials at times when no priest was available.

The register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord reveals a number of place names, some of which are familiar, others less so.  Havre-à-l’Anguille was used interchangeably with Havre-aux-Sauvages, particularly during the first half of the French regime, but during the second half the name Havre-à-l’Anguille apparently fell into disuse.  Tracadie, which was initially within the parish of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, by 1753 became part of the parish of Saint-Louis-du-Nord-Est, following the establishment of that parish.

The village of Portage is referred to on a few occasions.  It was at the head of the Hillsborough River.  Marie Gentil and her husband, Jean-Baptiste Haché, described as residents of Portage, had a child baptized in 1736.  Madame Gentil’s name became better known in Island French history through Louis Franquet’s writing of her in 1751 while travelling between Port-LaJoye and Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  Though by now widowed, she still lived, according to Franquet, by the portage, though he does not refer to a village by that name.5 Havre-de-Bonne-Fortune is mentioned.  Presumably, this is the same as Havre-de-Fortune or Baie-de-Fortune, the “Bonne” having gotten dropped.  There was also Havre-de-Bonne-Espérance, being dependent on the parish of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord – its location is unknown.

François Douville’s burial entry in 1757 is interesting in that it claims that Douville was the first resident of Île Saint-Jean.  Another interesting entry occurred in February 1758 when Father Biscarret married Paul Devaux and Marguerite Potier.  Both are described as refugees in the parish.  The groom’s parents, from Beaubassin, were said to be prisoners of the British.  The bride’s mother, formerly from Beaubassin, was living at Havre-aux-Sauvages, but the bride’s father was also a prisoner of the British.  Quite probably, the three parents were being held at Fort Cumberland, formerly Fort Beauséjour.

Though the last register entry made on Île Saint-Jean occurred in September 1758, there is one subsequent entry.  Made on April 18, 1759 at St-Malo, it gives a fleeting glimpse into the register’s journey to France.  On that date Marie Roger, Louis Talbot, Louis Aubin LeBuff and our friend, Simon Billard, ex-soldier, lover and blacksmith, and several others appeared before two notaries at St-Malo.  Charles de la Borde, formerly of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord and quite likely the man who owned the black slave, Dorothée, needed a baptismal extract concerning his son who had been baptized in Île Saint-Jean in 1750.  Marie Roger and Louis Talbot had been the godparents.

In testimony given before the notaries, it was stated that following the fall of Île Saint-Jean to the British, the register had come to St-Malo aboard one of the transports and had been given to a St‑Malo church official.  It was retrieved from the official in order to have a baptismal extract prepared, but the relevant baptism could not be found in the register.  It was stated that during the crossing from Ile Saint-Jean the transport was frequently buffeted by heavy seas and as a result the register had become wet, and unfortunately several pages within the 1750 section had gotten torn and mouldy or rotten.  Those appearing before the notaries remembered that the baptism was in October, who the officiating priest was, and who the witnesses and godparents had been.  This was good enough to produce a baptismal extract, even though the date in October was unknown.  Ironically, it turns out that the baptism probably never had been recorded in the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  The officiating priest was based at Port-LaJoye and it was in the register of Port-LaJoye where he chose to record it.  The record of the baptism, which occurred on October 5, is quite intact to this day!

Knowledge of who the priests were on Île Saint-Jean during the French regime and where and when they served, has been developed over the past 100 years or so without the benefit of information from the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  Indeed it has been the register of Port La‑Joye which has been the main source of information.  The compilation by D.C. Harvey is quite accurate in relation to the priests serving Port-LaJoye, but is somewhat less accurate regarding the other four parishes, including Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, for which only the period after 1752 is addressed.6 By taking into account the information provided by the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, a greatly expanded and more accurate picture for that parish can be developed (Table 1).

Similarly, by using information from both parish registers, as well as certain other data, it is possible to present a more accurate and comprehensive compilation showing the service of priests at each of the three smaller parishes (Table 1).  It is unfortunate that the registers of Saint‑Louis-du-Nord-Est, Pointe-Prime and Malpec have not survived, for like the register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, they, too, could no doubt shed light on local history during the French regime.

 

Table 1

Service by priests at five parishes during the French regime on Île Saint-Jean7

 

Port-LaJoye

René -Charles de Breslay : April 17, 1721 – April 29, 1723

Louis de Metivier : July 25, 1721 – July 14, 1723

Louis Barbet Dudonjon : August 19, 1723 – June 11, 1724

Félix Pain : July 1 – July 3, 1725

Leonard Patin : July 26, 1725

Félix Pain : November 27, 1725 ; March 6, 1726; June 5, 1726 ; September 8 – September 21, 1726 ; Pierre-Joseph de Kergariou8 ; January 18 – January 24, 1726

Ignace Joseph Flamant : June 27 – June 29, 1727 ; December 24, 1727

Juan Despirac : December 13, 1727

Félix Pain : November 26 – December 4, 1727 ; February 2, 1728 : September 9 – November 7, 1728 ; April 21 – May 21, 1729 ; October 24 – October 31, 1729 ; May 14 – May 22, 1730 ; October 17 – November 3, 1730 ; May 9 – July 10, 1731 ; November 3, 1730 ; May 9 – July 10, 1731

Mathieu François Le Paige : December 3 – December 8, 1731 : February 23, 1732; April 23, 1732 : October 17 – October 31, 1732 ; January 31, 1733 ; April 7 – May 3, 1733 ; October 25, 1733

L.G. Bienne : October 10, 1733

Athanase Guégot : November 26, 1733 – June 20, 1735

Mathieu François Le Paige : October 20 – October 23, 1735

Anathase Guégot : December 12, 1735 – August 20, 1736

Angélique Collin : October 11, 1736 – July 21, 1737

Gabriel LeMoign : September 24 – October 27, 1737

Mathieu François le Paige : November 13, 1737

Gabriel Le Moign : December 17, 1737 – January 3, 1739

Ambroise Aubré : January 28, 1739

Gabriel Le Moign : March 12 – July 28, 1739

Ambroise Aubré : August 11, 1739 – June 30, 1741

Elie Kerviche : August 16, 1741 – May 11, 1744

Patrice LaGrée : September 15, 1749 – January 22, 1751

Alexis de Buron : January 15 – January 24, 1751

Patrice La Grée : January 26, 1751 – September 25, 1752

Isidore Caulet : August 16, 1752

Ambroise Aubré : October 9, 1752 – July 16, 1754

Pierre Cassiet : August 7, 1754

Père Orast (?) : August 25, 1754

Gratien Raoul : September 15, 1754 – July 30, 1755

Père Laforce : August 16, 1755

Gratien Raoul : August 17, 1755 – May 30, 1758

 

Saint-Pierre-du-Nord

Claude-François de Brevant : July 19 – September 17, 1724

Leonard Pain : August 4 – August 15, 1725

Pierre-Joseph de Kergariou : February 4 – February 5, 1726

Félix Pain : May 18 – May 26, 1728 ; August 22 – August 28, 1728 ; October 10 – October 19, 1728 ; July 6 – July 22, 1729 ; September 9, 1729 ; September 8 – September 19, 1730

Mathieu François Le Paige : January 6 – February 4, 1732 ; May 21 – June 2, 1732 ; September 8 – September 27, 1732 ; February 11 – February 25, 1733 ; May 14 – October 6, 1733 ; October 14, 1733 ; November 26, 1733 – October 17, 1735 ; November 16, 1735 – September 27, 1737 ; January 14, 1738 – June 21, 1739

Gabriel Le Moign : August 4, 1739 – September 3, 1740

Elie Kerviche : September 4, 1739 ; September 10, 1740

Gabriel Le Moign : September 11, 1740 – October 11, 1744

Elie Kerviche : October 18, 1744 – August 15, 1745

Samuel Riou : August 15 – August 16, 1745

Pierre Maillard : November 7 – November 12, 1747

François Marganne de Chapt de Lavaltrie9 : Date unknown, but included some time leading up to September/October 1748

Ambroise Audré : November 11, 1749

Charles de la Goudalie : May 26 – July 7, 1751

Alexis de Buron : March 18, 1751

Jacques Girard : July 13 – November 6, 1752

Jean Marc Perronnel : December 25, 1752 – August 18, 1755

Pierre Cassiet : August 29, 1755

Jean Biscarret : September 18, 1755 – August 21, 1758

 

Saint-Louis-du-Nord-Est

Jean Marc Perronnel : December 1752 – 1753

Pierre Cassiet : 1753 – September 1758

 

Malpec

Pierre-Joseph de Kergariou : March 26, 1725 (Mi’kmaq mission)

Mathieu François Le Paige : Prior to September 1734 ; May 1, 1735 ; November 3, 1738

Père Duguay10 : Date unknown, but before 1753

Samuel Riou11 : Date unknown, but included a period of time leading up to August 1, 1745

Bernard Sylvestre Dosque : 1753 – August or September 1758

 

Pointe-Prime

Jacques Girard : 1752 – September 1758

__________________________________

1 Transcripts of the parish regiser of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord are available at the Prince Edward Island Archives and Records Office, at the Centre d’études acadiennes (CEA), Université de Moncton, and at the National Archives of Canada (NAC), Ottawa.  Microfilm copies of the original register are held by the CEA and NAC.

2 John C. MacMillan, The History of the Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island from 1835 till 1891 (Québec, 1913), pp. 295-296; The Weekly Examiner and Island Argus, Charlottetown, 23 November 1883, p. 1.

3 Archives Nationales (Paris), Archives des Colonies, Série C11C, Vol. 8, pp. 191-192, “Inhabitants’ [of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord] petition to Monsieur Benoit”.  The document is undated, but from its context can be determined to have been written in September or October 1748.

4 L’Abbé L’Isle-Dieu au Président du Conseil de Marine, 23 déc. 1755, Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Québec, 1937/38, p. 173.

5 Louis Franquet, Voyage de Franquet aux Iles Royale et Saint-Jean, Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Québec, 1923/24, pp. 118 et 121.

6 See D.C. Harvey, The French Régime on Prince Edward Island (New Haven, 1926), pp. 240-243.  Harvey’s compilations are echoed in Henri Blanchard’s two books, Histoire des Acadiens de l’Ile du Prince-Edouard (1927), pp. 75-76 and The Acadians of Prince Edward Island (1964), pp. 53-55.  However, in the case of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, Harvey’s errors have been compounded in Blanchard’s second book.

7 With a few exceptions, dates are those on which baptism, marriage or internment rites were conducted.  The dates on which priests began and finished their service in any given parish may be somewhat earlier or later, respectively, than the dates indicated, since rites would not necessarily be performed on the first and last days of service.  Prior to 1749 some rites which are recorded in the register of Port-LaJoye involved residents of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord, and some of these rites were no doubt conducted at Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  Thus, the extent to which Saint-Pierre-du-Nord was visited by priests based at Port-LaJoye is probably greater than indicated in this compilation.  This appears to be particularly true during the tenure of Father Patrice LaGrée, 1749-1751.  The information upon which this compilation is based is drawn largely from the registers of the parishes of Port-LaJoye and Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.  For Port-LaJoye the compilation largely reproduces that first published in D.C. Harvey, The French Regime in Prince Edward Island, New Haven, 1926, pp. 240-242.  Copies and transcripts of the registers are available in Canada at the Prince Edward Island Record Office, Charlottetown, the Centre d’études acadiennes, Université de Moncton, and the National Archives, Ottawa.  At the later repository the citations for these registers are:

Port-LaJoye:  MG1, G1, Vol. 411, Microfilm reel no. F-595 (original) and C-1472 (transcript)

Saint-Pierre-du-Nord:  MG6, A4, Ser. E, Microfilm reel no. F-817 (original) and C-2970 (transcript)

8 Information concerning Father Kergariou is from a small register kept by him and now residing in the Fonds Casgrain, Archives du Séminaire de Québec.

9 Inhabitants’ [of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord] petition to Monsieur Benoît, Archives Nationales (Paris), Archives des Colonies, C11C, Vol 8, pp. 191-192.  The document is undated, but from its context can be determined to have been written in September or October 1748.

10 Letter of Abbé L’Isle-Dieu to Mgr H.-M. de Pontbriand, 20 June 1754, Rapport de l’Archiviste de la Province de Québec 1936/1937, Québec, 1937, p. 377.

11 See register of Saint-Pierre-du-Nord.

 

Flying the Flag at Port-la-Joye

2002 par John Eldon Green

John Eldon Green

 

Canadians observe the constant migration of refugees around the world with a certain measure of detachment.  It is something that happens elsewhere, to other people, from which we have been mercifully spared.  We live here in peace, free from terrorism, unaware of its real and lasting effects.  We are comfortable, our families safe, and our only threat is sickness.

Imagine our reaction then if an army suddenly invaded us this month, because of a war in a faraway continent among people of whom we know little, speaking a language not our own.  The strange soldiers order us from our homes at gunpoint, permitting us nothing of our possessions but what we can carry, and after a forced march of many miles gather us in fields near the administrative centre of the Island.  All the while we protest that we have done them no harm, and indeed do not have the means to harm them.  We have no army, have never been warlike, and have caused trouble to no one.

Finally assembled in a field without the least shelter from the elements, we are told that we will be transported from the Island into exile – mothers and children in one boat, fathers and single men in another.  Our destination is a matter of indifference to those in charge of our expulsion, and so is our fate.  As the days pass we live in terror, hoping for a change of heart, even without knowing how we would survive the coming winter if the invaders did relent.  Some of us may escape and perhaps join up with the invisible Mi’kmaq people who will accommodate us, but most of us will be shipped out, many to our deaths.  Some of our families will never be reunited.

This scenario is so far-fetched it is embarrassing even to write it, yet it describes what happened to the first French settlers on PEI, 40 long years after they became established here.  Upwards of 4,000 people – some say maybe 6,000 – were gathered in the fields next to the French administrative quarters at Port-la-Joye in late October, 1758 and deported from the colony they had carefully and patiently built from scratch.  In due course the British who replaced them would establish a fort on the site, named after the British General responsible for the expulsion.

The site of Port-la-Joye and Fort Amherst, on a picturesque point of land across the harbour from Charlottetown, is now recognized as a National Historic Site.  The breastworks for the Fort are clearly visible, but it requires imagination to recognize anything of Port-la-Joye.  A nearby Interpretation Centre provides a summary of the history of the times and an account of the expulsion, but it is a lame account, without a sense of the suffering of the people, nor a tribute to those who survived to rebuild the present day Acadian community – their language, culture and religion still intact, as promised them in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris.

People speak of lands made holy by the blood of martyrs, but I believe that lands can also be made sacred by the suffering of innocent people, such as we have done in dedicating monuments in France to Canadian soldiers who served there, among those who died.  When I visit Port-la-Joye/Fort Amherst I feel a sense of reverence in the silence of the place, made all the more

profound by the lack of visitors.  It is the most important historical site in Atlantic Canada, being the seat of two earliest governments as well as the site of an expulsion of thousands of innocents, and yet it is largely ignored.  It is ignored because we have not known what to make of it.  The Acadian people have now lived for two hundred and forty-three years with the memory of the expulsion, much of that time spent in cautious dread of the English majority, asking mostly to be left alone.  For our part, our governments undertook to make them English.  Until only recently, in terms of Island history, their school books were in English, their curriculum was an English curriculum, and classes were to be conducted in English.  The services of their government were conducted entirely in English and little accommodation was made for those who could not understand the language.  We have not understood their persistence in remaining French.

For many reasons, I have long thought that the National Historic Site should be turned over to an Acadian organization for management, under contract with Parks Canada.  The Acadian people should be welcomed back to Port-la-Joye in time for their major celebration in 2004, not to commemorate the expulsion but rather to celebrate their return and prideful survival among us.

Port-la-Joye/Fort Amherst should be a major attraction for visitors, not only for its surpassing beauty but also because there is no better setting for telling people the history of our province, and why it is a province.  Some years ago we were invited to prepare a management plan for the site, which was set aside at the time because of the federal government’s total and over-riding commitment to accountancy rather than program development.  I believe it is now time for the plan to be dusted off, and who would have a better cause to do it than an Acadian organization through a management contract with the Government of Canada.

 John Eldon Green is a descendant of refugees from the American Revolution who settled on PEI, on lands cleared by French pioneers.

They all go Mad for my Plough

1981 par La Petite Souvenance

 

In the palmy days of wythe harness, wooden-teethed harrows and wooden linch-pins, there lived on the Western Road, not a thousand miles from Miscouche, a well-known Acadian named Joseph (Charles) Perry, who drove a very thriving trade in plough-making.  He made the wood-work on the ploughs, and sold them for twenty shillings each.

One day a customer presented himself at Joe’s shop and asked him the price of ploughs.

“Twenty shillin’,” replied the plough-maker.

“That’s dear,” said the customer.  “I’ll give you fifteen shillings for one.”

Joe looked upon this offer as an insult and accordingly became indignant.  He replied -

“You need not take de plow – I do not ask you to have him!  I can sell all de plow I make! – Dere is Fefteen-Point, Tagnesh, Cas-cum-pack, Skin’-Pond, Jim-Yeo! – day all go mad for my plow!”

Whether the customer was induced by this startling array of facts, to pay the price asked, has not been handed down.

The Summerside Progress
le 3 septembre 1866, p. 2