Before and during French rule, Chéticamp did not exist. Some area places like La Petite Rivière, Le Platin and La Frênière were often visited by Mi'kmq Indians who would stay awhile when hunting. In spite of this, there is nothing to offer as proof that any community existed here prior to the Deportation of the Acadians in 1755 that lasted through 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. A couple of French families later settled there for a short time but did not remain permanently.

In the 17th century, Nicolas Denys while touring Acadia, did visit Chéticamp. In his book Chéticamp, Anselme Chiasson states it is porbably that the Bretons and the Basques built temporary cabins at La Pointe where they came to dry their cod during the fishing season - according to the elderly folk at Chéticamp.

After the Deportation, it seems that Chéticamp was still uninhabited for quite some time. It was not until 1785 that some settlers arrived in Chéticamp, Saint-Joseph-du-Moine, and Margaree. Apparently, these Acadians arrived in Chéticamp after having traveled from place to place for quite some time. Many of them, such as Joseph Boudrot, descended from Acadians of Grand-Preé but most of them had been deported from Ile St-Jean (Prince Edward Island) or Ile Royale (Cape Breton) in 1758. They were then sent to England and finally returned to Saint-Pierre et Miquelon and then went on to various places such as Arichat, Nova Scotia, Bay des Chaleurs and finally back to Prince Edward Island where some remained making this their home.

The Acadians wandered for many years following those terrible and painful years of deportation, isolation and suffering. Again from Anselme Chiasson's book we read the testimony acquired from Jeanne Dugas, wife of Pierre Bois, by Bishop Plessis during his visit to Chéticamp in 1812: Worthy of note is that I met at Chéticamp, on Cape Breton Isalnd, in July of 1812, Jeanne Dugast, aged about 80 years then, the widow of Pierre Bois, who told me she had been born in Louisbourg (Cape Breton), and later, of living on Ilse St-Jean (P.E.I.), after that at Remshic, in Acadia, thence again to Cape Breton, from there again to Remshic, then to Ile St-Jean a second time, then a third time to Remshic, from there to Restigouche, from Restigouche to Halifax, from there to Arichat, then to the Magdalen Islands, then to Cacapédia, and from Cascapédia to Chéticamp, and of never going to bed without supper.

The wanderings of the Acadians was caused by the frustrations they encountered everywhere they went but especially because they were driven to find a peaceful place they could really call home once again! Just about no matter where they went, the Acadians dealt with greed and downright meanness on the part of the English who now owned their rich lands. During the Deportation years that last oh too long, the English settled on the best lands and treated the Acadians who had first settled this land into one of prosperity like outcasts and they tried to take advantage of their downtrodden situation. Remembering how our Ancestors had great pride in their undertakings and success in settling this part of New France, it was very difficult if not impossible for them to live under such dire circumstances. This explains why they wandered from place to place - they were a peaceful people before the Deportation and though they had not allowed the Deportation to destroy their spirit, they wanted to live in freedom and peace and not have to be subjected to any more English landowners.


In 1782, Pierre Bois and Joseph Richard dit Matinal were in Chéticamp. Joseph Richard did not remain very long after that as he was later found to have settled in Tracadie and there was no evidence of his return to Chéticamp nor of any descendants in later years. If it were not for his sisters who remained here there would be no trace of him here at all.

In 1785, Régis Bois, the 20 year of son of Pierre arrived as well as Maximilien Gaudet with his wife Geneviève Bois as well as Raymond Poirier, husband of Marie Bois. Geneviève and Marie were daughters of Pierre Bois. There was also Augustin Deveau (justin), and his wife Rose Richard, sister of Joseph Richard. Others who followed were Anselme Aucoin who was 21 years old and married to Rose Chiasson, daughter of Paul; Louis Gaudet, 16 years old (most likely a relative of Maximilien) and finaly, Simon Doucet, 18 years old.

Another group arrived in 1786: Paul Chiasson, 59 - with him, his wife Louise Boudrot who went back to Ile St-Jean a few years later and never returned. There was also Basile Chiasson, 31, son of Paul with his wife, Adélaïde Arseneaux; Jean Chiasson, 46, brother of Paul and his wife Isabelle Boudrot; Joseph Gaudet, and wife Marie-Anne Richard and father of Maximilien Gaudet; Pierre Aucoin, 53 first married to Félicité LeBlanc and in a second marriage to Marie Doucet. Pierre was the father of Anselme Aucoin who had arrived a year earlier. There were yet more: Joseph Boudrot, 23, his wife Anne Chiasson; Lazare LeBlanc, 33 and wife Modeste Chiasson; Étienne Chiasson, 22 with his wife Monique Gaudet; Joseph Deveau, 21 years old; Joseph Aucoin, 42, wife Marie Hébert. Accompanying this last couple was Cyriac Roche, 2 years old, born in Nova Scotia of Irish parents. François Cormier married to Anne Haché and Joseph Cormier and his wife Suzanne LeBlanc - these last two couples had come from Grand-Étang. More newcomers arrived in 1788: Joseph LeBlanc 32, Gregoire Maillet, 57 with his wife Anne LeBlanc.

Though the above named were the actual pioneers of Chéticamp, newcomers continued to arrive for the next 40 years. Those who came were either family or friends who decided to rejoin their family members near or distant. Others came from the Magdelen Islands or Prince Edward Island exhausted from all of the strife to which they were subjected all these years following the Deportation! In 1792, Jean Bourgeois came to Chéticamp - born in France, he was now 19 years old. Me married Angélique Poirier and later Rosalie Maillet. He is the ancestor of all the Bourgeois descendants of Chéticamp. About 1820 another Jean Bourgeois arrived from the Magdalen Islands but all of his children were girls.

Father Lejamel's census at the end of August 1809, reveals that the number of people in Chéticamp at that time was 226 and in Margaree 200. In 1820 Chéticamp and Margaree together had a population of 784 Catholics. The population of Margaree reached 1,000 then remained stable while Chéticamp continued to grow. During 1822-1823, thirty-six families from Rustico went to Chéticamp, to Grand-Étang and to Lake Bras d'Or, in Cape Breton. In 1962 the population of Chéticamp was 3,000.

SOURCE: Chéticamp by Father Anselme Chiasson - ISBN 1-895415-29-2.

He has also written the History of the Acadians at Cape Breton and the Magdalen Islands.

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
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