Early Settlement

The journey to Havre Boucher was laden with hardship and heartbreak for many of the pioneer settlors. A number of our ancestral families began their North American resettlement in Port Royale, a settlement on the site of present day Annapolis Royal. The early Acadians built the first dykes in North America and cultivated the fertile reclaimed salt marshes. The peaceful coexistence between the early French settlors and the Mi’Kmaw natives was frequently disturbed by recurring skirmishes between England and France for ownership and control of these newly discovered lands rich with natural resources. The signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 is a significant demarcation. Under the terms of that Treaty, France ceded Acadia, Newfoundland and Hudson Bay to England, while France kept Ile Royale (Cape Breton) and Ile Saint Jean (Prince Edward Island). This left many early Acadian families in a vulnerable position. Families with surnames  Benoit, Breau, Coste, Fougere and Petitpas are found in the 1752 census of the Port Toulouse (St. Peter’s) area of Ile Royale. The Pellerin family left Port Royale and traveled through Pisiquit (Windsor, NS) before ending up in Chezzetcook. The Roy family left Port Royale and travelled through Point St, Anne (Fredericton, NB) before ending up in Chezzetcook with some Roy family members imprisoned for a brief period at Halifax.

Acadians at work in the field

Acadians at work in the field
(from a painting by Claude Picard)

The Acadians who did not relocate to Ile Royale did not consider themselves to be British subjects and they would not swear their allegiance to the King of England. This led to the expulsion of nearly 7,000 Acadians from Grand Pre by the British in 1755.The Acadians who settled in Havre Boucher were not among those expelled but some of their family members and relatives were. The cultural and family ties between the Cajuns of Louisiana and the Acadians of the Maritimes have remained strong to this day.

Pierre Boucher came to Pisiquit, Acadia from Quebec around 1714, married there and moved on to Port Toulouse where his son Honore was born about 1716. Honore married Marie-Anne Marres around 1743 at Port Toulouse, Nine children were born to this couple, including Paul born about 1760 in Arichat. Paul was one of the very first settlors in Havre Boucher about 1785. Pierre-Francoise Briand came to Port Toulouse from France about 1728 and married there about 1730. Georges Charpentier was born in Ile St. Jean (Prince Edward Island) and lived in many places before settling in Havre Boucher about 1786. Antoine Lavandier came to Port Toulouse from France about 1730 in the employ of Claude Pettipas and married Claude’s widow about 1732.

Construction of the fortress at Louisbourg began in 1714. The French King began encouraging the Acadians to move to Ile Royale to either live and work at the fortress or to provide agricultural and fishing support to the garrison. Following the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, Acadians were forbidden to remain on or return to the lands they had settled. A group of about ten families from Port Toulouse (St. Peter’s) led a nomadic existence with help from the Mi’kmaq in the vicinity of Isle Madame, Cape Breton. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the Acadian population was allowed to live in peace in Nova Scotia. In 1775, during the American War of Independence, many Acadian families had to leave Isle Madame where they were threatened by American privateers including Captain John Paul Jones. They temporarily settled at Chezzetcook, Ile St. Jean or St. Pierre et Miquelon before returning to Isle Madame about 1780.

A typical early Acadian house

A typical early Acadian house
(from a painting by Azor Vienneau)

The British authorities gave displaced Acadians permission to resettle in Nova Scotia but they could not settle on lands they once occupied and they could not concentrate in large numbers. This led to settlement in three harbour locations, Tracadie, Harbour au Bouche and Pomquet between 1776 and 1790. The Pierre Benoit family was the first to arrive in the area in 1776 followed by the Bonnevies, the Deslauriers and the Fougeres (who later moved to Havre Boucher). Pierre Benoit built a log house on the eastern point of Tracadie Harbour called, to this day, Cemetery Point. Benoit was a great friend of the Mi’kmaq, over whom he exercised considerable influence. He spoke their language fluently and was, on occasions, their interpreter with the missionaries and others. A large number of the early settlors in Havre Boucher were descendants of the Acadians who had relocated from Port Royal to Ile Royale (Cape Breton) in the early 1700’s. The Pellerin family also originally from Port Royale arrived about 1808 when Paul Pellerin of Chezzetcook  married Marie Coste of Havre Boucher and settled there.

In 1785 a tract of land measuring 170 acres was granted to Paul Bushee, and a tract of land measuring 100 acres was granted to Philistin Coste in what was to become Harbour au Bouche. Paul Bushee was married to Pelagie Coste, a sister to Philistin. These two families are generally regarded as being the first two permanent family settlements in Havre Boucher but we know that other Acadian families were already arriving in the area. In a letter written in 1787 by Father Phalen, a missionary at Arichat in which he said that while traveling from Prince Edward Island to Arichat, he intended to visit two French settlements containing nine or ten families near the Gut of Canso.

The circumstances that brought Jean Baptiste Melon and Marc Crispo to Havre Boucher in the 1790’s are less than clear. One possibility links their arrival with the return of fisheries merchant Charles Robbins from the Jersey Islands to Isle Madame in the 1790’s bringing a workforce of unmarried men which may have included Jean Baptiste Melon. Also during that same time period, Charles Robbins was trading with Basque fishing crews which may have included Marc Crispo who was seeking passage to the new world.

To deal with the provincial debt the Nova Scotia legislature passed a Poll Tax Act in 1791 which levied a capitation tax on all adult males. The amount of tax was based on a person’s employment and their ownership of cattle and sheep. The poll tax of 1794 revealed the following families as settlers in the area:

Lazare Benoit m. Marguerite Landry                                                                  

Joseph Benoit m. Rosalie Doiron

          Paul Bushee m. Pelagie Coste 

                   Thomas Bushee m. Judith Deslauriers

                   Policarpe Bushee m. Rosalie Forgeron

                   Simon Bushee m. Olivette Petitpas

                   Fidele Bushee m. Jeanne Benoit

                   Honore Boucher m. Marie Benoit

                   Louis Boucher m. Angelique Bellefontaine

Georges Charpentier m. 1 Anne Cyr (deceased)

                   Alexandre Charpentier m. Olive Victoire D’Aigle

                   Michel m. Adelaide Deslauriers

          Georges Charpentier m. 2 Marguerite-Joseph Henry

                   Louis Charpentier m. Angelique Petitpas

          Marguerite-Josephe Henry m. Gregoire D’Aigle

                   Francoise-Jeanne Daigle m. Michael Webb

Claude Coste m. Marguerite Vigneau

          Jacques Coste m. Archange Langlois

          Jean Coste m. Ludivine Benoit

          Felicien Coste m. Marie Langlois

          Joseph Fougere m. Marguerite Coste

                   Jean-Baptiste Fougere m. Marguerite Deslauriers

                   Joseph Fougere m. Apoline Boucher

                   Charles Fougere m. Marie-Modest Richard

                   Marcel Fougere m. Anne-Charlotte Richard

                   Jacques Fougere m. Madeleine Petitpas

Joseph Langlois m. Henriette Langlois

          Francois Langlois m. Angelique Boucher

          Abraham Lavandier m. Genevieve Benard

          Charles LeBlanc m. Marie Daigle

          Paul Manette m. Anne Lavandier

                   Pierre-Paul Lavandier m. Martha Fougere

                   Charles Lavandier m. Therese Fougere

                   Jean (de Dieu) Lavandier m. Ursule Meunier

                   Basile Lavandier m. Marine Deslauriers

                   Pierre Lavandier m. Marguerite Langlois

          Charles LeBlanc m. Marie D’Aigle

                   Rosalie m. Louis-Francois Briand

          Paul Manet m. Anne Lavandier

                   Luc Manet m. Anne Lavandier

Many residents of Havre Boucher descend from these early settlers as is evidenced by surnames that persist to this day.

In the 1790’s the cultural barriers between the early Acadians and newly arriving Celtic immigrants resulted in a peaceful coexistence and occasional marriages. Michael Webb, an English sea captain sailing out of Massachusetts befriended the Daigle family and married their daughter Jeanette Francoise about 1791. In 1799, shortly after their arrival from Connecticut the McKeough family acquired 550 acres of land from Jean Baptiste Coste and relocated from Lakevale near Antigonish to Little Tracadie (Linwood, NS).

The descendancy charts on this website include a number of significant family relationships and surnames that may not have been included among the “Pioneer Families” but who nonetheless have and continue to contribute in a very meaningful way to the lifeblood of our community.

Many residents of Havre Boucher descend from these early settlers as is evidenced by surnames that persist to this day. The sustenance of these early settlers and the economy of the area was very much rooted in the natural resources of the area for the entire 19th century. The nearby ocean provided an abundant fishery, crops were planted as the lands were cleared and cultivated and the bountiful forests provided wildlife for food and lumber for somewhat primitive homes and shipbuilding. Towards the mid nineteenth century, the industrious, hard working seafarers began venturing to and working on vessels sailing out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. This led to an outmigration in the later part of the nineteenth century that fractured many families as young men and women left Nova Scotia to work as labourers and domestics in the rapidly growing industrial economy in the Boston area. A second wave of outmigration occurred in the early twentieth century as many young men and women again left the area to work in the automotive plants of Michigan. Interspersed with this out migration was the loss of many brave young men in World War I and World War II. Through all of this family separation and hardship, the tight knit community fabric of Havre Boucher has prevailed.

Havre Boucher Wharf