From the pen of Georges Arsenault....

“Instinct for Business”
Pioneer Acadian Entrepreneurs on Prince Edward Island

This article was published in The Island Magazine, Number 51 (Spring/Summer 2002). The magazine is published by the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation

In August 1880, an official delegation of 42 Acadians from the Maritime Provinces attended a convention in Québec City. Convened by the Saint Jean Baptiste Society, it brought together representatives of French speaking groups from across Canada and the United States. Four of the delegates were from Prince Edward Island. There were two MLAs -- Stanislaus F. Perry and Joseph-Octave Arsenault -- and two younger compatriots: Gilbert DesRoches and Étienne E. Gallant, both of whom would later serve briefly in Legislative Assembly. All except Perry were merchants. This was an indication that the Acadian community had undergone tremendous changes, considering that it would have been difficult to find one single Acadian merchant on the Island 25 years earlier.

This evolution was accurately described at the Quebec Convention by Pascal Poirier, who had been given the task of delivering a report on the state of the Acadian society. Poirier was a respected young leader from Shediac, New Brunswick, who, five years later, at the age of 33, would become Canada’s first Acadian senator. In his speech, he mentions that until recently, Acadians had been almost totally absent from the commercial and industrial fields, which were the monopoly of “les Anglais” However, Poirier was quick to add that even if Acadians seemed to lack the “natural instinct for business” and lacked easy access to capital or credit, “they had managed over the last few years -- thanks to their energy and business acumen, which people didn’t realize they had – to built up what they lacked in that domain, or at least to partially make up for it.”

Twenty or even fifteen years ago, it would have been difficult if not impossible to find an Acadian merchant in New Brunswick. Today, one comes across businessmen, well established and fast emerging as leaders in the rural areas and even in towns like Shediac, Moncton, St. John [...] in New Brunswick; or Tignish, Miscouche, Rustico, Souris, Saint-Jacques [Egmont Bay], on Prince Edward Island; and in St. Mary’s Bay in Nova Scotia.
In fact, by 1880, almost all Acadian communities on the Island could claim to have several of their native sons active in the realm of business. As we shall see, Joseph-Octave Arsenault of Abrams Village and Gilbert DesRoches from Miscouche, who both attended the Québec convention, were among the most prominent.

Restraint of Trade

These were not the first “Frenchmen” to operate as entrepreneurs on the Island. During the French Regime, several individuals were involved in business. The 1752 census, for instance, lists three merchants in Saint Pierre du Nord, one in Port Lajoie and two on the rivière du Nord-Est (Hillsborough River). One of these merchants was a women, Marie Allain -- the widow of Nicolas Gautier, and ancestor of the Prince Edward Island Gauthiers.

After their return to the Island, following the 1758 Expulsion by the British, dispossessed Acadians spent many years trying to rebuild their communities. Among the factors which hindered them from becoming involved in the world of business was their land occupancy status. As tenants, many did not have the right to venture into commerce since some landlords kept that prerogative for themselves or their associates. That was the case in Lot 17 where, in 1807, 21 Acadian farmers signed leases with Colonel Harry Compton. Their leases, unequivocal in this matter, read: “And the said Tenants are hereby restrained from erecting or suffering to be erected any Corn or Grist Mill on any part of their farm or farms but shall cause their Grains at all times to be ground at the Mill of the Township and no other, neither shall they suffer to be kept any Shop, Store or Tavern on any parts of their respective farms....”

The earliest mention of an Acadian involved in business is made in the history of Prince County, published in 1905 in Past and Present of Prince Edward Island. The author of the chapter, John Mollison, mentions that a certain Frank Arsenault opened a store at Nail Pond, near Tignish, around 1845. Apparently Arsenault obtained his merchandise at Port Hill and exchanged it for products with local farmers and fishermen. This Frank (or François) Arsenault was born in Cascumpec in 1813 and a few years later moved to Tignish with his parents. In 1837, he married Judith Poirier of Tignish. Little is known of this early entrepreneur, except that he was also involved in the fisheries. According to the 1853 Report of the Fisheries, Arsenault’s small fishing establishment at Nail Pond had produced 250 quintals of cod and ling, 200 gallons of fish oil and 30 barrels of mackerel. He was still in business in 1861, listed as a “trader” in that year’s census. François Arsenault died in Bouctouche, New Brunswick, in 1870 where he had been living for a certain period of time. Apparently he had no offspring.

Frank Arsenault’s example would be followed by compatriots determined to work their way into an area of the economy that had been out of reach for their parents. They emerged during the period known as the Acadian Renaissance, when many exciting initiatives fostered the development of the Maritime Acadian community. In the 1860s alone, St. Joseph’s College was founded in Memramcook and the Moniteur Acadien, the first French-language newspaper in the Maritime Provinces, was published. The Island witnessed the creation of the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico and grain bank societies, also the building of the bilingual Miscouche and Tignish School Convents, operated by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. The Acadian awakening coincided with what historians call the “Golden Age”of Maritime prosperity. In 1854, with the inauguration of a form of free trade between the United States and British North America, under the terms of the Reciprocity Treaty, international trade was strong and shipbuilding was booming throughout the Maritimes. In many ways, it was a favourable time for anyone who wanted to venture in the business world. What follows is a brief description of the first of the Island’s Acadians to venture into this world.

Joseph B. Poirier

Joseph B. Poirier of Miscouche, born in 1820, helped pave the way for a number of other Acadian merchants, mainly family members and relatives, who later opened stores in Miscouche, Abrams Village, Wellington, Tignish and St. Louis. A farmer, Poirier opened his first store in his home village in 1857 when he was 37 years of age. He is the only store owner listed for Miscouche in Hutchinson’s 1864 Directory. He remained in business there until 1880 when his youngest son, Emmanuel, took over, but unfortunately Emmanuel died two years later of consumption at the age of 22.

In 1881, Joseph Poirier’s wife, Barbe Arsenault, died after 36 years of sickness, but according to L’Impartial, “she had always helped [her husband] in his arduous career.” The same year, Poirier moved from Miscouche to Tignish where two of his sons, Avit and Damase were involved in commerce – mainly buying eggs from the farmers and exporting them to the United States. Avit later became a storeowner in the village of St. Louis where he was also the postmaster. In Tignish, Joseph Poirier soon remarried and in 1885, when he was 65 years old, opened a new store which he successfully operated for 12 years.

According to the newspapers of the time, Poirier was one of the leading store owners of West Prince. Tignish’s French-language weekly, L’Impartial, described his enterprise in 1896:

J.B. Poirier’s firm is one of the best established business in the western part of the Island. The buildings that he occupies cover an area of 6,640 [square] feet. He buys over 12,000 bushels of oats annually and from 25,000 to 30,000 dozen eggs. Monsieur Poirier exports his own products to foreign markets. His store is always full of the best merchandise that he sells to farmers in exchange for their produce, for which he pays the best prices.
An advertisement published in the same paper in 1894 offers us a glimpse of this man’s approach to business:

I am just in receipt of a lot of Flour which I can sell for $3.55 per barrel. The brand of this flour is “Evangeline”, a well known brand. I have also a better brand A1 for $3.70.

My stock of boots, shoes, Rubbers, will shortly be here. All the goods that the people need can be had at my store at 10 and 15 per cent cheaper than elsewhere for ready pay.

     In the meantime, I would kindly ask my customers to come and settle their accounts to enable me to continue my business with better advantage.

Due to failing eyesight, Joseph B. Poirier had to abandon his business at the age of 77. He sold it in 1897 to his stepson, Joseph F. Chaisson who had been his clerk for a number of years. Poirier then retired back to Miscouche and moved in with his daughter Sophie and son-in-law, businessman Gilbert DesRoches, where he died on November 21, 1899.

Joseph-Octave Arsenault

Joseph B. Poirier’s wife, Barbe Arsenault, was a sister of Senator Joseph-Octave Arsenault of Abrams Village, another pioneer entrepreneur. Born in Cascumpec in 1828, but raised in the Egmont Bay area, Arsenault first attended the local school and then continued in Miscouche. At 19 years of age, he embarked on a teaching career which he pursued for some 17 years. Aside from taking a leave after five years in the classroom to qualify for a First Class Teacher’s certificate at the Central Academy in Charlottetown, he spent most of his teaching career in Abrams Village. In 1861, at age 32, he married 20-year-old Gertrude Gaudet of Miscouche. They settled on a farm and raised nine children.

Four years after his marriage, Arsenault left teaching to become a merchant and was apparently the first Acadian store owner in the area. His decision to enter the mercantile business was probably inspired by his brother-in-law Joseph B. Poirier who had opened his store in Miscouche eight years earlier. But it is also quite possible that he got some solid encouragement from the legendary Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt, the then curé of Rustico, who visited Egmont Bay in the summer of 1862. There he gave two well-attended lectures: one on “home and civic economics”and the other on the “dignity and advantage of being a farmer compared to other social standings, and how to attain comfort and success.”

During his visit to Egmont Bay, Father Belcourt was struck by the insecurity of many farmers who were on the verge of losing their farms to the “seigneur du voisinage” (the neighbourhood lord) – a thinly-veiled reference to James Yeo, the “Ledger Giant of Port Hill.” In a letter to French historian Edme Rameau de Saint-Père of Paris, Belcourt writes: “He easily gives them credit from his store, he even advances them as much money as they need and of course mortgages their farms. At election time, he comes forth as a candidate, and woe to whoever refuses him his vote. He has already evicted a few Acadians whom he has replaced by Protestants.”

“It has been reported to me that those lectures are undoubtedly having a positive impact,” Belcourt reported. In 1862, Egmont Bay farmers were the first on the Island to set up a grain bank, a type of cooperative that operated along the same lines as a regular bank, except that all transactions took place in kind. Interest, shares and dividends were counted in bushels of grain. This co-operative formula, like the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico, which Belcourt founded in 1861, proved very useful for farmers who often had to go into debt to pay for very expensive seed grain in the spring, perpetuating a cycle of chronic indebtedness. Joseph-Octave Arsenault certainly attended Belcourt’s lectures and, as the local educated leader, would have helped set up the grain bank institution which operated successfully in some Island communities for over 80 years. After he was elected to the Legislature in 1867, he sponsored: An Act for the incorporation of Societies for the sale and distribution of Seed Grain, on credit.

Arsenault opened his first store at the crossroad in Abrams Village in 1865. In 1874 he built a two-storey store at Wellington Station, which soon became a flourishing business under the management of his nephew, Fidèle T. Arsenault. At the same time, Joseph-Octave kept his Abrams Village shop open under the direction of former school teacher Sylvain E. Gallant. He also operated a cooperage in Wellington and was involved in the fishing industry.*

*For more details on Joseph-Octave Arsenault, see The Island Magazine, Number 33 (Spring-Summer 1993.)

Senator Arsenault
Senator Joseph-Octave Arsenault. (Centre de recherche acadien de l’Í.-P.-É., Musée acadien, Miscouche)
Shortly after his nomination to the Senate in 1895, Joseph-Octave went into partnership with his son Joe-Félix who had been working in his store in Wellington since the late 1880s. The new company was called J.O. Arsenault & Son. In February 1896, the firm published an ad for three employees in L’Impartial:


A married man, sober, honest and well recommended to take charge of egg and Pedlar waggon on opening of the season. Must speak English and French, good writer, good at figures and some knowledge of book keeping. Good wages to the right man.
Also two (2) good lobster fishermen, men capable of managing boats, etc.
Senator Arsenault died on 14 December, 1897 after a 30-year career in politics and an even longer one in business. Despite inclement weather and almost impassable muddy roads, some 200 carriages followed his remains from his residence to the Egmont Bay Roman Catholic church, where a solemn requiem High Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of the Diocese. According to the Prince Edward Island Agriculturist, it was one of the largest funerals ever seen in that section of the province, an indication of the high esteem in which Arsenault was held. This was echoed in many newspapers. The Charlottetown Daily Patriot, after applauding Senator Arsenault’s irreproachable political career, stated, “In business life he was noted for his strict integrity, keen business insight and indefatigable industriousness.” The Moniteur Acadien added: “By his industriousness, his honesty, his proverbial integrity, Monsieur Arsenault has left a deep imprint in the business world where he had carved for himself an enviable position thanks to his tact and talent for business.”

Joe-Félix Arsenault continued the family business after his father’s death and soon decided to build a grand new store in Wellington. This he did in 1899 but, not being as prudent as his father, he soon encountered financial difficulties which lead to the downfall of the family firm. Haunted by bankruptcy, Joe-Felix left the Island for Minnesota in 1905 only to return home in 1914. In the meantime, the beautiful and spacious store he had built was bought by his cousin Fidèle T. Arsenault and Emmanuel Gaudet, a former school teacher from Miscouche. In 1906 they formed the company Arsenault & Gaudet Ltd. Fidèle had gained considerable experience while skilfully managing his uncle’s business in Wellington. Arsenault & Gaudet soon distinguished itself as one of the most progressive firms in the county. The store closed in 1972. The last owner was Fidèle T. Arsenault’s grandson, Euclide Arsenault.

Gilbert DesRoches

An entrepreneur comparable to Joseph-Octave Arsenault was Gilbert DesRoches of Miscouche. His wife, Sophie Poirier, was Joseph B. Poirier’s daughter and Senator Arsenault’s niece. “The R.T. Holman of Miscouche,” as he was known, was born into a well-established Miscouche family on 24 July, 1848, the eldest of 10 children. His father, Jean DesRoches, was a mason who owned one of the largest farms in the parish.

DesRoches Store
Gilbert DesRoches Store, c1900. Gilbert Desroches stands in the entrance of his general store in Miscouche. (Centre de recherche acadien de l’Í.-P.-É., Musée acadien, Miscouche)
Gilbert went to the local elementary school and then learned the trade of shoemaker, which he practised for only two years. In 1876, at 28 years of age, he went into business in partnership with his brother-in-law Joseph Poirier Jr., but by 1880 he opted to set out on his own. That summer, a visitor to Miscouche wrote in the Shediac weekly, Le Moniteur Acadien: "Last spring, Monsieur DesRoches built himself a beautiful store which does credit to his genius for business.” The writer also added that DesRoches was building a spacious grain storehouse measuring 38 by 40 feet for his ever-expanding commerce. DesRoches was well underway to becoming a leading merchant and dealer in the province. By the mid 1890s, L’Impartial stated: “although a relatively young man, he has managed, thanks to his tact and energy, to establish a business clientele that merchants from big cities would envy.”

Like most dealers of the time, DesRoches purchased the products he exported -- grain, eggs, potatoes – from the farmers of the area. In particular, he gained a reputation for marketing the famous Malpeque oyster. As early as1884, Pascal Poirier was calling him “the Oyster King” while in 1896 he was describing himself as “the biggest exporter of oysters in all of Canada.” In some years, he handled as many as 5000 barrels, his main markets being in Quebec City and Montreal. In the 1890s, he also got involved in lobster packing on a large scale, shipping his own and buying lobster from several other canneries for export to England.

In addition to his commercial activities, he successfully operated a 60-acre farm, served as postmaster, and ran a construction business for some years. Among his projects was the building of the Miscouche train station in 1881, a contract worth $1000 which he completed and handed over “nearly one month sooner than he was bound by the contract,”according to the Summerside Journal. The same article informs us that DesRoches had also secured the contract for improvements at the O’Leary station.

Gilbert DesRoches also made his mark as a community leader. As mentioned earlier, he was one of the Island delegates at the 1880 Saint Jean-Baptiste Convention in Quebec City and helped organize the important 1884 National Convention of the Acadians held in Miscouche. He was president of the debating club organized in his parish in 1886, and in 1902 he became treasurer of the new local farm club. The energetic entrepreneur could not resist the lure of political life. After running twice unsuccessfully in two provincial elections, in 1897 he was elected for the 5th district of Prince County and sat in the Opposition until he was defeated at the next election in 1900. He was 66 years of age when he died in 1915, leaving no descendants to inherit the fruit of his lifelong endeavours.

Joseph Gallant

As Gilbert DesRoches was making a name for himself in Prince County, another dynamic Acadian entrepreneur was distinguishing himself in the Rustico area. Joseph Gallant – “Joe Bronne” or “Dandy Joe” as he was also commonly known – was born in Rustico on 19 March 1839, son of Isidore Gallant (dit Bronne) and Sophie Pineau. According to Meacham’s 1880 Atlas, his father was one of the very few Acadians in Rustico to own a 100-acre farm, most of the other farms being much smaller, 50 acres or less.

In 1986, I interviewed 98-year-old Théophile (Bill) Blanchard of Rustico, a man who was considered a reference in local history. He indeed had a fantastic memory and he recounted to me many interesting details about the life of Joseph Gallant that he had picked up, when he was a young man, directly from the elderly entrepreneur. As a youngster, Joe Bronne went to Charlottetown where he found employment with Carvell Brothers. By also serving as a stable boy for a well-to-do family who gave him room and board, he was able to save enough to buy half of the farm owned by the St. Augustine parish. He started in business by managing a small store in the house that he built on his farm. This would have been after his marriage in 1862 to Frances Elizabeth Coffin, of Mount Stewart, who became a Catholic before marrying into the Gallant family.

However, it was in 1880 that his enterprise really started to expand. That year he ventured into maritime commerce with a 77-ton schooner, the Four Sisters, which he had commissioned. As a sign of his success, or at least of his ambitions, he also had an impressive house built in the Second Empire style. That house, now called Barachois Inn, is located across from the historic St. Augustine Roman Catholic church in South Rustico. The activity caught the attention of Le Moniteur Acadien, which reported in August, 1880:

     This man has just had a magnificent home built; the upper floors will serve as his residence and the main floor as a store. He is also having a lovely 80-ton schooner built; by next week it will be ready to be loaded, mainly with fish, and it will sail for Boston under the command of Captain LeBlanc from Arichat. Thanks to his competent management, Mr. Gallant is seeing his business expand and prosper. Success is accompanying him in all his ventures.
Five years later, Dandy Joe was again in the news. “Our merchant, Mr. Joseph Gallant,” reported a Rustico correspondent to the Examiner, “is making quite a stir here. He has at present in course of construction not less than five buildings, all calculated to be finished this season.” In 1888, the same newspaper reported that he had erected a telephone office in addition to his store. “This will, no doubt, prove very convenient in telephonic communications here,” commented the author of “Scraps from Rustico.” These new buildings were erected in Rusticoville, a few miles from Gallant’s residence. From here he directed his ever-expanding enterprise. Those premises were destroyed in December 1890, when a fire started in a coal shed behind the shop. Fortunately, Gallant carried insurance so he was able to rebuild. In 1894, L’Impartial published a good description of the establishment.

In Rusticoville, there is a Mr. Joseph Gallant who is carrying on a very impressive commerce and who owns very valuable properties. He is the owner of a wharf that he built costing him a large sum of money. His store, which is L-shaped, is 125 feet long and is divided into three departments; one for dry goods, one for groceries, and the third for footwear. The people of the area can find all they need in this store. Mr. Gallant is the owner of two schooners constantly occupied in the trade of coal, lumber and products of all sorts.
It is said that the prosperous state of the beautiful village of Rusticoville is due in great part to Mr. Gallant’s talent for business.
In 1895, Joseph Gallant became the owner of a third store when he acquired the Oyster Bed Bridge store which had belonged to the late Donald MacKay.

After launching the Four Sisters, Joseph Gallant remained in maritime commerce for some 40 years. He exported agricultural and fisheries products, principally to Massachusetts, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. The ships brought back mainly coal, salt and lumber. In all he owned four schooners but never more than two at the same time. In 1888, he lost Four Sisters at sea and replaced it with the Fanny, which he named after either his wife, or youngest daughter, or both. In 1905 he built the Florenec to replace a recently-lost vessel named the Acadian. According to L’Impartial, the christening of his new vessel, launched in August 1905, was a well-attended event: “Close to 700 people gathered in Rustico to witness the launching of the pretty schooner built by Mr. Joseph Gallant. The launching was a success. With all the appropriate rituals, Reverend Doctor Chiasson christened it Florence.” He named it Florence in honour of his granddaughter, Florence Doiron, who had entered the orders of the Congregation of St. Joseph of Peace under the name of Sister St. Leonard.

Joseph Gallant’s residence stands close to the parish hall that housed the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico. Although he had not been a founding director of the local institution, he became its second president in 1878. The bank had been experiencing rather serious administrative difficulties for several years and Gallant, along with the cashier, Adrien Doiron, was responsible for getting it back on a sound footing.* He approached the federal government many times in order to get its charter renewed, and was successful in 1883 and 1891, but it finally expired in 1894. Gallant’s last job as president was to oversee the liquidation of this people’s bank, a forerunner of the caisse populaire and credit union movements in North America.

*See John T. Croteau’s “The Farmer’s Bank of Rustico: An Episode in Acadian History,” The Island Magazine # 4 (Spring/Summer, 1978).

When Joseph Gallant died in 1923 at the age of 84, he was still in business but quite heavily in debt. It is believed that the man to whom he had entrusted the management of his business in his old age and illness was responsible for this sorry state of affairs. After his death, Gallant’s lovely home, his farm, and his business were sold to satisfy a $6100 mortgage. Once his debts were paid, and according to his wishes, $300 was given to the parish priest for masses to be said for the repose of his soul. The balance was left to his unmarried daughter, Frances E. Gallant, who eventually emigrated to the United States.

Other entrepreneurs

Apart from the above successful pioneer Acadian entrepreneurs, a number of other Island Acadians ventured into the business world in the 1870s. There was Sylvain T. Poirier (Perry, c1821-1900), a farmer from Sea Cow Pond and a brother of Stanislaus F. Perry, the Island’s first Acadian politician. He moved to the new village of Tignish Station and opened its first general store in l874 and was a very successful merchant for a number of years. He was also the local postmaster from 1875 to 1894. That year he retired and moved to Massachusetts where a number of his children were living.

Jean J. Arsenault (1846-1916) was also in business in Tignish from 1875 to 1883. A native of Egmont Bay, he was well-educated, having spent a few years at the Sulpicien College in Montreal. He turned to business after teaching a few years. By 1883, he was running two stores, a lobster factory and a fishing station. He was also a contractor and in 1881, with Laurent Poirier as a partner, had earned a major contract to build the Tignish breakwater. By 1884, Arsenault had left the Island for Manitoba where he worked as a homestead inspector for many years and was an active member of the French-Canadian community in Winnipeg.

Captain Frank Gallant of Tignish (1841-1905) went into business in the 1870s after spending some 14 years sailing the seas. He built several vessels and commanded some of the fleetest ships of the time, being employed in the West Indies and Newfoundland trade. After his seafaring years he went into lobster-packing for about six years and then engaged in general merchandise business. He was Tignish’s postmaster from 1894 to 1905 and a hotel owner.

Still in the Tignish area, there was a certain James Arsenault who is mentioned in the Lovell’s Prince Edward Island Directory for 1871 as a general merchant, a fish dealer and owner of a shingle mill, while in the eastern end of the Island there is a reference to a grocer by the name of Alexander Cheverie in Souris and of two Acadian merchants in Rollo Bay, James Bourke and Alexander Chaisson.


Until the 1870s, the Island’s Acadians were considered just “a supply of labour at a cheaper rate than can be expected elsewhere,” as John Lawson described them in his 1851 Letters on Prince Edward Island. The careers outlined above helped change this perception. A common denominator among these early entrepreneurs is that, although they did not come from a wealthy milieu, their parents were generally successful farmers in their communities, indicating a background of hard work and resourcefulness. Thanks to their initiative and ambition, these early entrepreneurs played an important role in the local economy, creating jobs, buying and exporting local products and, as most merchants did at the time, making small loans to local residents.

They and their families helped built the small Acadian elite that emerged during the Acadian Renaissance. The members of this elite learned to speak English fluently, thus opening up the barriers that existed between the Acadian community and Islanders of British origin. A number became highly-respected community leaders, the most distinguished being Joseph-Octave Arsenault whose long and remarkable public life was crowned in 1895 by a seat in the Senate, and whose son, Aubin E. Arsenault, became Premier of Prince Edward Island in 1917. Perhaps more importantly, they became important symbols both in and oustide the Acadian community. For they proved that Acadians had the talent to venture off the beaten path and occupy a more significant place in the economy of Prince Edward Island.


This article is based on a lecture given at Beaconsfield on 2 April, 2001 for the 19th Annual Island Lecture Series: “Taking Care of Business. Entrepreneurs in Island History.” Providing even brief biographical sketches of these early entrepreneurs is a rather difficult task. Most of these men had little education, and they left very few, if any, documents. Even their ledgers do not seem to have been preserved, or at least have not yet come to light. My best source of information were newspapers, and especially the French-language weeklies that often followed the progress of these progressive men, and in some cases published detailed obituaries. I should also mention that the 1905 publication Past and Present of Prince Edward Island was very helpful in tracing the life of a few of these pioneer Acadian businessmen. Short biographies of three of these businessmen are in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto, University of Toronto Press): Joseph-Octave Arsenault (Volume XII), Gilbert DesRoches (Volume XIV) are Joseph Gallant (in the forthcoming Volume XV). (See DCB on line at

Much research remains to be done for a better understanding of the contribution of this small group of entrepreneurs to the socio-economic development of Acadian communities and to the Island as a whole. Such a study would not be complete without exploring the contribution of Acadian women to the entrepreneurial sector, both as partners (official or unofficial) in their husband’s business and as entrepreneurs in their own right. We know a fair amount about the school mistress, the farm wife, the fish plant worker and even the maid, but the role of Acadian women in business remains unexplored territory.

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