Page 46 - Bishop Plessis Visits Cape Breton, 1815
ISSUE : Issue 55
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/8/1
pose of the celebration of mass, simply by tidying up a few boards and by reinforcing with sails the side walls made of branches. Well! This place had escaped the eye of the good missionary. But it was too late to make use of it. The time had arrived to say the last mass. The bish? op said it and preached a little homily to the assistants. However, be? ing more and more affected by the indecency of the place and by the odour which came from the room below, he immediately ordered the portable chapel to be boxed, and he infomied the priests that as soon as they catechized in this room and heard the confessions of those persons who would come, if there were any to be confirmed, he would administer this sacrement aboard the schooner rather than in this fet? id spot where he had just officiated after them. Effectively, the schooner had left its first anchorage in the early part of the morning, at the request of the prelate who, knowing Mr. Lejamtel, feared that after the religious sen/ices, somewhat late after noon, neither he nor his people would be able to find anything at all to eat at this spot. Howev? er, after much searching. Father Lejamtel had been able to have a lunch prepared in the hut of the village baker, who did not even have bread to offer to his guests, only sailors' extremely hard pilot's biscuit with a piece of cheese and a few pints of milk. Cleanliness was not in evidence, neither on the small table where this meagre meal was tak? en between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, nor in the rest of the hut. Nevertheless, it has already been mentionned that, on trips whose only purpose is the care of souls, one should not be too de? manding when it comes to creature comforts. After lunch the Bishop went aboard. 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It was evidently not them who profited from their bishop's visit, but rather some good souls from Pointe Basse (Low Point) and the neighbouring countryside. Only one person was sent, near nightfall, to be confirmed by the bishop who administered the sacrement on the fo'c'sie of the boat, and far more decently than he could have done ashore. Another one came to be confirmed but it was too late since the vestments had been put away. Because it was a man, he was told to go to the French village of Labrador (Little Bras d'Or area) where the bishop was scheduled to confirm there two days agglomeration of 20 to 25 families of French origin, the ma? jority of whom are either natives of the area or their fathers came from St.-Pierre in Newfoundland, the others from France itself, to found this small colony. June 25 - The smallest entry to Labrador (Bras d'Or Lake) is separat? ed from the largest by one or more islands, above which their waters are joined and form a sort of large river in which several islands are scattered, the largest being called Laboularderie (Boularderie island) is at least 12 leagues long. Some twenty leagues from the ocean, both shores of this sort of river narrow to the point where they are only half a mile distant from each other, and perhaps less. On each side of this strait, newly settled Scottish Catholic families are scat? tered, more or less distant from each other, and generally being able to communicate only by water. Half a league above this strait, on the eastern shore, a log chapel was built last year, so close to the shore that water must reach it during spring tide, although its foundations would not be damaged since it is supported only by logs. This chapel is unfinished and it is not likely to be for a long time unless the piety of these good Scots make up for their poverty, since there is very lit? tle to expect from settlers, the oldest of whom only opened their lands five or six years ago, and are just now beginning to make a modest living. Their establishments on this shore are strewn on a league and a half at??ove the chapel. From French Village to this place, that is to say approximately 18 leagues, there is not a single house. This part of Cape Breton is totally wild arid uncultivated. No matter in what direction one looks, there is only water, forests and some lime quarries on Boularderie Island; on the opposite shore, one sees coves, headlands and a great many ponds separated from the main body of water by small dunes or sand bars. You do not go a mile without coming across one of these ponds. Since Labrador Lake has not yet interested the government, no spot has specific names. Everything is called Labrador. One of the two points of land which form the strait referred to above is nevertheless called pointe de lajeunesse. If you ask for the etymology of the name you are given one that is not credible: it is said that formerly, young people from the French establishments on the eastern side of the is? land, came here for fun. But who could believe that crossing 8 to 10 leagues of forest only to arrive at another spot covered with trees would constitute an amusement? Above this strait the expanse of water widens considerably and forms two bays; one is called East Arm and the other West Arm. The distance from the end of one of these bays to the end of the other is approximately 12 leagues and, since there is at least 4 leagues to cross between the two, the result is a 12-leagues-by-4 lake called Labrador Lake. The eastern arm extends in the direction of Sydney harbour which can easily be reached by a portage of two or three miles. A river named Labadec (most likely this is the Skye River, al? though possibly Plessis means Middle River) empties at the end of the Western arm. By going up this river one reaches a mountain Midway Motors Ltd. Now with Two Locations: HEAD OFFICE Middle River 295-2290 ' NEW OFFICE Port Hastings 625-3641 We've Been CHRYSLER Since 192 6
Cape Breton's Magazine