Ancient History of L'Ardoise



Ancient History of L’Ardoise
by Alice Burke - October 15, 1978

The following was copied exactly as written in a short story found at the Nicolas Denys Museum in St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia.

L’Ardoise is an Acadian Village situated in the County of Richmond, Nova Scotia, bordering on the Atlantic Ocean. It is called L’Ardoise due to the amount of rock and slate to be found near the shore line; it is divided into seven districts, Point Michaud, Gracieville, Lower L’Ardoise, L’Ardoise, L’Ardoise Highland, West L’Ardoise and Rockdale.

In 1752, we learn that Francois Coste was Seigneur of L’Ardoise, having received a Concession from M. Ste. Ovide de Soubras and that he was established about 1720. And there were several families numbering 60 people in all, later these people had large gardens, cattle, sheep, hens, horses and seven boats. Some of these boats were quite large to carry wood and provisions.

In 1747, we learn from Fr. Lesions’ history that a certain Mathieu Samson took up land at West L’Ardoise and a group of Samsons either brothers or cousins took up 5 lots of land at the Cross Roads #809-12-23-14 & 15. Also A. J. Mombourquette and Antoine Mombourquette and Alexander Mombourquette who lived to be 106 years, the familiar names of that period were Francois Briand from Ste. Malo, France, Jean-Baptiste Martel from Quebec, Gabriel Samson from Levis, Quebec.

After the fall of Louisbourg in 1758 the people of L’Ardoise dispersed themselves once again and other new people came with them to engage in the fishing trade. We find the names of Longuepee, Gracie, Landry, LaBille, Preshong, Pitre, Samson, Mombourquette, Briand and Martel.

Point Micheau getting its name from a French Captain who presumably was shipwrecked there. The early pioneers at Point Micheau were Irish, the O’Keefes, Murphys, Fitzgeralds, Fitzsimmons, Thomas, Jones, some of the generations are still about.

Gracieville we find the descendents of Manual Gracie who had a large family, George, Jeffery, Jack, Pauline and there was Peter Landry who lived where Herbie Briand now on Casters Hill, they had a number of girls who went to the States.

In Little Harbour we found the Taylors, Clannons, Campbells, McGraths, Mathesons, their generations still live there.

The Mombourquettes, Pierre, George, Maurice, Urban, Remi, Antoine, at one time this place was called Ste. Onge after a place in France, presumably their racial origins came from such a place, the 4th and 5th generations of Mombourquettes still live there, the origin of the Landry family, Annie, and Jeffery came from St. Onge, France, came to Acadian in 1605, their 4th and 5th generations are in existence at the present.

We come to the Samson district, Maurice, Justin, Fabien, Nore, Maretin, Jobe who was married to a girl named Bridget, they had a grocery and dry goods store on the beach, and also the Post Office, then came Joe Matheson who did big business with the fishermen and later took over the Post Office, then was also the Finlaysons and Rory Ferguson, buyers of fish and operating grocery and dry goods stores.

At the period 1890-1900 the harbour was clustered with fishing boats and all the business was at the shore, the fishermen from Black Head and Larebeveque brought their fish over in their boats landed it here and sold to these buyers, then shipped in large vessels to Halifax, these buyers were well equipped with wharfs and large fish stores, the cod and haddock would be spread on large flakes to dry before being shipped away, the shore wall all inhabited by local people all summer long.

At the Harbour we also find more Samsons, Lexis, Elie, Coste, Vital, Fisista who all had large families. There was also the Bonas, John Henry who Celeste, Manuel, William Patrick and a number of girls. The Biretts, Costa, Pierre, Justa and Remi, they had large families, a few of the 4th generations are still living. Also at the Harbour were the Brymers, first came Alexander Brymer, from this man came William, Arthur, Thomas and George. William was the Harbour Master, the first telephone in L’Ardoise was at his house operated by his daughter Victorie, that was in 1900. Incidentally William, Arthur and George all married girls from Arichat whose racial origins were from the Channel Islands off the east coast of France. Mrs. George Brymar (aunt) Cita lived to be 106 years old.

The Government Telegraph (Morse Code) came into being in L’Ardoise in 1906 operated by Margaret Finlayson at her father’s house Aben Finlayson.

As we move along to L’Ardoise we have the Pitres, Samuel, who had three sons, Benjamin, William and Alex, also a number of girls. Simon who had two sons, Maris and George, two girls Domital and Adele, all had large families, their 4th and 5th generations still living on the Peters Hill.

We also find Martels (Les petit Charlie) with large families, there again is the family of Carolyn Martel, Passia, Narcisse, William, Joseph, Fred and Charlie, all these people had a fishing establishment at L’Ardoise and a pond and a house on the cape owned by Jim LaBille who had immigrated from France, the place today is LaBille’s pond. This place was clustered with fishing huts and Fred Martel had a dry goods and grocery store on the beach. At the road going to the huts was a grocery store operated by Neil Shaw who owned a track of land adjacent to it, the property later was owned by Dan Finlayson, the Post Office was on the main highway and later brought down to Martel’s store, while on the main highway the Post office was at Neil Archie MacEachern.

In the area was also Capt. George Martel and Teenie Martel on the Rehberg Road. Rehberg was a Prussian who had immigrated to this country and married a local girl. They had a large family, the 4th generation still live here. Again in L’Ardoise proper we find the Samsons (Les Grande Maurice), Charlie, Antoine and Ephraim, they had large families, 4th and 5th generations still here. Another Samson, Flavian had a large family of boys who have passed on, their descendants still live at L’Ardoise, and some have moved away, this could be the 5th generation of Gabriel Samson mentioned earlier in this write-up.

We also find that Juste Mombourquette who lived here in 1850, his 5th generation live here, also the MacNeil’s, The LeRoues, an old Acadian name presumably marched here after the fall of Louisbourg, all had large families, descendent still here.

West L’Ardoise we find the Briands and some Birettes, the Condons, the ancestors have died off, the Briands, Pasquel, Etiene, Jean, Nore, Elie, these people had large families who were at their peak in 1850-60, their 4th and 5th generations are still here. We also have another group of Mombourquettes, Passia, Costan, Esidere, Tresterich and Juste. Some of these descendants still live in West L’Ardoise, many have gone to the States.

We also find the Barrons who have all moved away and passed on to their reward.

West L’Ardoise is also where we find the Pates, and the Berthiers, that’s Frances, Fidele, Hunide Pate, old Acadian names, they had large families, 4th and 5th generations still live here. The Berthiers, Abraham, Esidore, Joseph, Denis and others, they also have 4th and 5th generations living here. All these ancient people made their living from the sea and land, by gardens, cattle, sheep and so on.

Chapel Cove was a haven for the fishing fleet and the shore clustered with fish huts. There were also Taylors and Bonas who still live here 4th and 5th generations.

In Rockdale the names of Pates, Evong, Martel Savarence. Martel operated a lobster canning factory there in the early days and employed a number of people during the summer months. Cod and mackerel fishing seemed to be the most important although the price was low it was a means of getting food for their families along with their vegetables and cattle for beef.

Also in Rockdale there was Rileys, Cotes, Middletons, Abraham Cote was the first to establish a small grocery store on the main highway from St. Peters to L’Ardoise about the late 1800's, later Dan Pate, Pascal Samson, William F. Samson and Mary C. Martel and during the first wold war Mrs. Minnie Murphy had a little store at the crossroads, her son Mike continued to operate it after he returned from overseas until his retirement. After some years Alonzo F. Sampson started a business, he also had the Post Office for a while, gradually all the business came to the main highway.

In 1920 the Mutual Telephone Co. came into being. It was located at the shore at the home of Mrs Cite Brymer and operated by her daughter Sarah. The switchboard remained there for ll years, that too was brought to the main road at the home of Alice Burke as well as the Government Telephone Service. The L’Ardoise Mutual Telephone Co. existed for 50 years then taken over by the Mutual Telephone and Telegraph Co.

Having covered the years of the pioneers and their way of life we turn to education and the church which has played an important part in the lives of the people of the parish.

In 1855 there was only one school in the community that was situated at the crossroads, an old teacher by the name of Parrington held a class in a room in his house, he had ten pupils that lasted for a few years. Then there was a little school built at the highlands, the first teacher was Annie MacLean, in 1867 when the free school act came into being, schools began to be built as they were needed until there were seven schools in the parish, later the need for more facilities and better education for the children, in 1941 the Sisters, Daughters of Jesus, came to help at the invitation of Rev. A. A. Boudreau with the help and guidance and the goodwill of some interested people. Consolidation took place and a better understanding of the people and education needs until we have arrived at the present 27 room school with 24 teachers plus a director.

The good Sisters have contributed to the welfare of our community and school population. Lastly we come to the church, previous to 1823 L’Ardoise was a Mission of Arichat, there was a church and a glebe but no resident priest, a Father Hudson used to come to see to the needs of the people, also a priest from Quebec and from Les Petit Clair at Monastery. Le Pere Vincent Merle worked among the people and the Micmac Indians. We have Les Fountain des Pere Vincent on the Salmon River Road.

The first resident Priest was a Father MacKearney, he was the first pastor to the first Holy Angel Guardian Church, then there was Father Ethier who died and was buried here near the present Church.

In 1860 there was Father Julian Courteau here for a period of time, several priests came from time to time, the original church was burnt sometime in 1870, was rebuilt and consecrated by Bishop John Cameron in 1888. About that time Father Lauchie MacPherson came and worked for many years among the people and later went to St. Francis Xavier University and Father A.A. Boudreau came to serve the people for 45 years. In the early days Sunday was a special day, early morning would see men and women and children in groups making their way to Sunday Mass, everyone who could possibly attend had to go, the Latin Mass and the Gregorian Chants with a large men’s choir was something to hear. In the afternoon at three o’clock would be Benediction and on special days Les Grande Vespers which was beautiful. Many of the young generations have never heard or will ever hear (unfortunately.)

On April 20, 1972 the second Holy Angel Guardian Church went up in flames, four years of hard work and planning went by doing our best to worship in our community centre and on December 5, 1976 saw the dedication of another beautiful church built entirely by the carpenters and labourers of our community and father Clarence MacDonald as pastor.

The Changes in the way of life, economy, school education and church is really unbelievable, when one looks back it’s a different world, be it as it may for the good of all.

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Revised: Monday, April 30, 2012