Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 32 > Page 2 - With Alex John Boudreau, Cheticamp Island

Page 2 - With Alex John Boudreau, Cheticamp Island

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/8/1 (626 reads)

ting up the same system in fisheries. The company was the landlord, the owner--they owned the boats, they owned the equipment, they owned--as a matter of fact--they prac? tically owned the fishermen. Now, you're scandalized. But at that time, even the province of Quebec still had feudalism. So it wasn't anything new, and it wasn't too much worse than what was taking place eve? rywhere else. In the States they had real slavery. And here, Robins were doing what everybody else was doing. So, when you study that situation in terms of history, it doesn't sound so bad. The Jersey Island? ers, as a matter of fact, were probably responsible for the settling of most of the Gaspe coast and part of Cape Breton, ' through their organization. Because they financed the fishermen. But then, natural? ly, they held them almost in bondage. And--I haven't got any documentary evi? dence to prove that--but during the course of my work on the Gaspe coast, I actually saw at one stage a letter from the general manager of the Robins to all his managers-- that included his managers on the Gaspe coast and throughout Cape Breton--telling them to keep their fishermen in debt with the company, and actually writing down, "A fisherman who is out of debt with us is a dangerous man." Now that was written--that was part of the philosophy. And ending his letter with the famous phrase, "If you want a good dog, keep him tame." Now, with? in the same philosophy, it was well known that for almost a century after their set? tlement until the beginning of the 20th century, the Robins, the whole set-up, the whole company, exercised tremendous influ? ence with the government of the province of Quebec particularly, to stop them from organizing education on the Gaspe coast. They didn't want their fishermen to know how to read. They were against education. And that was another of their principles. "An educated fisherman is a dangerous man." So, they must be kept in debt, and they must be kept illiterate. That's the only way we can control them. Now, .along those lines, I've had a number of stories. For example, no fisherman could get married without permission from the manager of Robin Jones. (Local Acadian fishermen?) Right. (Not just the people they were bringing out from Jersey?) Oh no- no-no-no-no. A local fisherman. Any fisher? man who was fishing for Robin Jones and was kept in debt by them, could not get married without permission from the manag? er. They had no money, and I've seen the wedding rings. The wedding rings were made out of 50c pieces, silver pieces, by Robin Jones. Now you couldn't even get your wed? ding ring if you didn't have permission. That was for the local people, for the fishermen. For their own people from Jer? sey Island, they had two regulations about marriage. One, you couldn't get married without permission from the boss. Two, you had to marry somebody from Jersey Island. If you married a local person, you were out of the company. Now, we have examples of that in Cheticamp. All the LeLievres in Cheticamp are descendants of one man--Jean LeLievre, who was an employee of Robin Jones at Cheticamp Point, brought over here from Jersey Island by the Robins., and who fell in love with a local girl, and de? cided to marry her. Lost his job, was fired, automatically. Set up his own busi? ness here. (Do you have any idea of why they would want to control that kind of thing?) To them it was just a part of controlling. What they wanted to do was to insure their #Nerichac Pottery EARTHENWARE & STONEWARE RETAIL & WHOLESALE ?? ARICHAT, ISLE MADAME 226-3004 DON'S FLOWERS p. 0. Box 179, Port Hawkesbury, N. S. B0E,2V0 Serving Port Hood, Judique, Inverness, and sur? rounding areas. Telephone 625-2215 or 625-2717. g'Ameriedft Express Company 19it0 'haveyour place in the sun J.A.Young&Son; 181 Charlotte Street Sydney, N.S. 539-'800 For all your travel needs. American Express Travel Service • Book plane tickets • Arrange complete vacations • Sell, cash or refund American Express? Travelers Cheques • Offer complete business travel service • Help at destination We want to be your travel agent. • Reserve h
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