Page 14 - Old Tales of Sorcery Remembered
ISSUE : Issue 30
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1981/12/1
some converted, some continued to live as Protestants--and actually, it was only 10% " of the Huguenots (1% of the total popula? tion of France) that left. While it was a dispersion and a disruption of their lives, it is not to be.too easily compared with the dispersion of the Acadi? ans. In the first place, the Huguenots were wanted in France: Louis XIV tried eve? ry means to keep them there, short of granting religious freedom (and all that implied at that time). While parallels of religious bigotry, coveting of lands and mercantile connections, and general dis? trust, exist • most of the emigrating Hugue? nots have to be seen as a people with port? able wealth and trades, whose lives were not thoroughly bound up with land they had cleared, as were the Acadians'. Moreover, they had welcoming places to go where their faith was shared, and involvement in business connections where religion was not of first importance. The Acadians could carry little away for their future support. They would be threatened outsid? ers almost anywhere. Members of individual families were often separated. Still, Hu? guenots often left under cover and threat of punishment if captured; they left be? hind property and unrecoverable debts; some sailed away in special hidden compart? ments built into foreign-made ships--but often with gold and jewels hidden in bar? rels being shipped with them. Among the several places they emigrated to were the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey), Eng? land. The Acadians were actively dispersed begin? ning in 1755, though there is evidence of their being driven from their homeland well before this date. (For example, Sieur de la Roque in 1752 refers to the "new set? tlers" at Isle Madame--those who have ar? rived in 1749 and 1750--as "refugees de la Cadie.") They were a people who, out of the raw materials of several peoples and a particular environment, created a new peo? ple, neither French nor English. Clark's marvellous book Acadia: The Geography of Early Nova Scotia to 1760 deals with that intimate relation of*land and life that was Acadia and the Acadians. They became a new people, established mercantile rela? tions with both French and English, and tried to maintain a neutral position while those two countries battled for the terri? tory that became Canada, Their expulsion was a process that went on for eight years. Some were not moved. Some areas were emp? tied of people. An idea of the wanderings of some survivors of La Grande Dispersion can be had from Fr. Chiasson's record of one Jeanne Dugast: "Chose remarquable, dit Monseigneur, j'ai rencontre a Chetican, isle du Cap-Breton, au mois de juillet 1812, Jeanne Dugast, a- gee de 80 ans, veuve de Pierre Bois, la- quelle m'a dit etre nee a Louisbourg, a- voir ete de la a I'Acadie, au lieu nomme le Grand Pre (Horton), puis etre revenue au Cap-Breton, puis avoir demeuree a I'lle Saint-Jean, ensuite k Remshic en Acadie, puis encore au Cap-Breton, de la encore k Remshic, puis a I'isle Saint-Jean pour la seconde fois, puis une troisieme fois a Remshic, de 1' k Restigouche, de Resti- gouche k Halifax, de Ik a Arichat, puis aux isles de la Madeleine, puis a Cascape- dia, et de Cascapedia a Chdtican, et ne s'etre jamais couchee sans souper." (Cheti? camp: Histoires et Traditions acadiennes by P??re Anselme Chiasson) The Acadians lacked both a homeland and other people of like ideas. There was no one quite like them in the world. They went to Louisiana, the Carolinas, St. Pi? erre. The English seemed determined to send them anywhere but to France. A rem? nant went to Arichat. The expulsion ends technically with the Peace between England and France, 1763. England possesses Cape Breton. By 1766-- just three years later--a French-speaking Englishman, born on the island of Jersey of Huguenot parents, arrives representing the firm of Robin, Pipon & Co. His name is Charles Robin. He winters at Arichat. He is 23 years old. He establishes a fishing station at Arichat, and at first takes some fishermen from there to work each sea? son at The Point, Cheticamp Island. The boats are returned to Arichat at the end of the season. The Jerseymen go back to Jersey. Finally, a fishing station is es? tablished at Cheticamp Island. Whether a significant number of Acadians come to Cheticamp because they know there is a buy? er and supplier there, whether Robin ac? tively recruits them to establish there-- this is all part of what we are yet to find out. For now, we wanted simply to make readers aware of some of the background of Jersey- men and Acadians--to remind them that on Cape Breton shores, 1766, a kind of circle comes round--two peoples, disrupted from their homelands each essentially for mat? ters of conscience and pragmatism, each with a different world view and economic perspective--a pair of histories and atti- tudes--come together here. What developed (and what failed to develop)--the systems of work, social associations, the villages themselves, and even legends--have roots in these backgrounds. Both company rules (for instance, Charles Robin's discipline allowing no women over from Jersey) and historical attitudes of Protestants toward Catholics and vice versa--are to be discov? ered and understood by us. At the end of Herbert LeBoutillier's talk we suggest some further reading. It will take real work, as there is as yet very little information available to which the general reader can turn. In future issues, we hope to offer more. For now, here is a talk with Herbert LeBoutillier about George LeBrun, a Jerseyman. The subject is still sorcery. (14)
Cape Breton's Magazine