Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 32 > Page 13 - With Alex John Boudreau, Cheticamp Island

Page 13 - With Alex John Boudreau, Cheticamp Island

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/8/1 (938 reads)
 

Jones. Because they're more hypocritical. You know, Robin Jones didn't mince words. They were in there to make profits, to make money, and they said so, that's it. But you know, it's--pretending that they're saving the world. (The co-ops?) Yeah, and they're not doing a damn thing. Because they're not following the real principles and the real philosophy of the cooperatives. A cooperative without an edu? cational program to support it, is not a cooperative. It becomes just another busi? ness. And if it's only a business, it's a bad business. That's all. (Do you think, if Robin Jones and Whitman had shifted from salt fish to frozen fish, they'd have beat you?) Yes. If they had kept up with the times, with the organiza? tion they had, nobody could have killed them. The cooperatives would have taken part of the business, but not all of it, as they did. If they had changed their methods soon enough, nobody could have killed them. (Did you ever have threats from the Robin people themselves?) No, no. That's the fun? ny part of it. It was a running fight with the Robins, during the 10 years I was there--I was 10 years on the Gaspe coast-- but all through that fight, I remained a good friend of Bouillon, the general man? ager. He used to call me the little son of a bitch. I weighed about 110 at that time. And he used to call me, "Mon petit son of a bitch." But then he'd say, "Come on in, come on in." You know, "When are you going to stop?" Or, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"--something like that. But I never had a threat, I never even had a bad letter, from any one of the Robins. I must give them that credit. (Business princi? ples?) No. I think that Bouillon just, from the very beginning and until I left, didn't take me seriously, and didn't be? lieve that I could hurt them. Don't forget that for 150 years they'd been the big boys in fisheries. Bouillon didn't believe that a little runt, little 2-by-4 from Cape Breton Island, coattails in the air, running around the Gaspe coast, could go in there and hurt them in any way. So he found it interesting, you know. A little bit comical, you know. And he invited me very often. Used to pound questions at me, trying to find out what the hell made me tick, you know. But not too seri? ous. Until it was too late. And then he just gave up. Gave up fishing, gave up the whole business. In Cheticamp, I got in wrong with a lot of people. I got mad very easily, and people got mad at me very easily. (You were 145 pounds....) And 25 years old. (You must have been afraid of yourself some days.) Exactly. Brought up poor, and resenting it. This was my neighbourhood--not only that, most of them were my relatives--my aunts and my cousins. Every second family in Cheticamp is related to me. .It wasn't only my job, it was--I was delighted to do it, I was delighted to fight against Robin Jones. Although, I have no axe to grind with them. They were good businessmen. And in some ways, Cheticamp was lucky to have Rpbin Jones in the fish business, at one stage of their development. But at another stage of the development of the village of Cheticamp, somebody had to tell them, e- nough is enough, now get off our toes so we can move ahead. Editor's Afterword While Alex John Boudreau tells us that he worked with the Extension Department of Antigonish in 1934, the precise relationship between him and Dr. M. M. Coady (who was Director of the Extension Dept., St. F. X.) is hard to clarify. There are those who feel that Coady was responsible for Bou? dreau 's getting the job of agricultural representa? tive for Northern Inverness. Boudreau denies this. He says that it was a political appointment, pure and simple • a gift from the Liberals for his work in the recent election. He did, however, say that Coady twice intervened to have him fired from that position, although he managed to keep the job un? til he chose to quit in 1938. And he told us that the growing anger between Coady and himself was fueled solely by the language issue. Coady's letters are informative about his attitude toward usage of the French language. Daniel Macln? nes, Instructor in Sociology at St. F. X., went through these letters, working on his doctoral the? sis. While the letters do not show'especial devo? tion to French language usage in the Cooperative Movement, they do indicate some concern. In Janu? ary 1932, writing on the issue of who should be the secretary of the United Maritime Fishermen: "It would be great to have a Frenchman, other things being equal." Then in February 1932, refer? ring to a short list of candidates: "However, none of them fits the bill, really, because it's highly imperative that the man speak French." In 1937 he requests from the Department of Fisheries a French translator for study club materials. Yet we know that Coady tried to send a non-French-speaking per? son to work with the Cheticamp area study clubs. All in all, Daniel Maclnnes found about 25 refer? ences, culled from some 30,000 Coady letters. Boudreau insists that his only quarrel with Coady

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