Acadians in search of a safe place
By JIM ST. CLAIR*
Cape Breton (27 April, 2004) -- In the sandy soil along the river, the
coltsfoot has made its annual early appearance -- the first of the blooming
wild flowers. But the mayflowers are still unwilling to raise their blossoms
to the sun.
maple trees are showing their magenta flowers for all to see. And the
forest floor is littered with branches which fell victim to the wind and
snow and the tender ends of spruce boughs as well may be seen on top of
the traces of snow lingering in dark corners. Beneath the tamarack trees,
the needles which turned yellow last autumn are now a bright rusty hue
and look rather like a special carpet. People are welcoming the end of
are rejoicing in the prospect of lobster newly take from the cold water.
Many people who have been traveling when asked about their journeys reply,
"Oh, a fine trip -- good connections and comfortable accommodations."
surely the responses of members of the Acadian communities were quite
different two hundred years ago. People such as Marie-Henriette LeJeune
and Charles Gallant must have experienced may discomforts in their journeys
before they settled down in the Margarees.
Marie-Henriette (LeJeune) (Comeau) (DeGong) Ross, life had been a series
of uprootings. Before her birth, her parents, Joseph and Martine (LeRoi)
LeJeune had been deported from their home in the Annapolis Valley. After
two years at French Village, Cape Breton (now Little Bras d’Or),
they sailed across the Atlantic. Louisbourg had been captured by the English,
and Isle Royale became Cape Breton -- and people who were of French ancestry
living in Rochefort, France, they came to be the parents of Marie-Henriette
in August of 1862. The next year, they sailed across the Atlantic, back
to North America, to take up residence in the French possession of St.
Pierre-Miquelon. This journey was the first of three that the young girl
named Marie-Henriette would endure in a small sailing ship on the Atlantic
family moved back to their former home at French Village as the post-war
agreement permitted. Fishing and farming, the LeJeunes were part of a
sizeable Acadian community. But the American Revolution brought change
as French (who might be favorable to the American cause) were removed
from Cape Breton.
years old, Marie-Henriette once again saw the land where she was born
-- a refugee, the victim of political winds of change. Four years later,
she married for the first time. With her husband, Joseph Comeau, and her
relatives, Henriette saw St. Pierre-Miquelon for the second time. There
Comeau drowned. The twenty-one-year-old widow and her family then took
up residence once again at French Village -- for the third time. Did anything
remain of their old house? Did they have to start clearing land all over
again? Did they learn once again from the First Nations people what plants
found in the woods were medicinal?
the Inverness Oran. Historian Jim St. Clair writes a weekly column entitled,
Then and Now: The Heritage of Inverness County
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