Saturday, August 14, 2004

The LeBlanc Reunion

The Acadian Cross tour was a highlight of yesterday. A tractor pulled us on a long wagon with lots of bus-like seats; the driver narrated in French and English. The Deportation Cross is on the farm of the Fuller family which has been in possession of the land since 1760. This year, for the Congres, they've provided for access to the site. They were charging $15CDN, but it was worth it. The tour stops first at the Deportation Cross, marking the site at which the Acadians of Grand-Pre were placed onto boats, then to the dyke at the water's edge, and to the ruins of the dock used by the New England planters. A CBC reporter accompanied us with a camera; he was covering the Congres but had the day off, and was doing this on his own. He knew more than the guide, and filled in a lot of information. He interviewed several of us afterwards, including me.

Nothing much was happening at Belliveau Cove except for pre-registration. It was getting cold and was starting to rain, but I was able to get my registration out of the way and get my wristband, nametag, and program.

I stopped at one restaurant that had been recommended to me, but it was closed, and ended up stopping at L'Auberge au Havre du Capitaine in Meteghan. It was crowded, but they promised they'd try to seat me within fifteen or twenty minutes. In the meantime, I joined the others waiting listening to a musical duet: a ten year old girl on fiddle and her 14 year old brother on electric base, playing traditional Acadian and Celtic tunes. Wonderful! I started up a conversation with a couple sitting by me on a couch from Moncton, and the wife was a descendant of Firmin, as I am. When it came time to be seated, they invited me to join them, and we had a delightful evening together. Then on to Yarmouth.

My hosts left today for a Cuban vacation(Canadians get to have those), so I said good-bye to them (though I'm staying another night in their home, and headed to Church Point for the reunion.

I'll describe more when I get home and post my pictures. A summary: mass, opening greetings, lots of music, meeting of lots of Firmin descendants (a couple even descended from Jean dit Bis à Firmin!), more Rappie Pie, getting reacquainted with folks I met five years ago, etc. Another talk by Lucie and one by Stephen White (telling the tale of one Acadian woman who was deported FIVE TIMES by the British!!). Lucie was leaving early, and so gave me her ticket to the "Evangeline" musical at the University. It was exceptionally well done. At the intermission, I was speaking with the fellow behind me, and at the end of the play he introduced me to the rest of the party and when I said my name I heard "Bill Cork!!"--and it was Nicole, from the comments box below. We all left together for dinner; restaurant they were going to go to, that said they should come at 8, said when we got there that they were closed. So Nicole suggested we go to the Social Club of Clare which was having an outdoor concert and food. I already had a ticket. It seems most of the food vendors they were expecting were at the reunion and ran out of food--our only options were hotdogs and sausages. Well, it was still a nice couple of hours. No traditional music, but a little Cajun and a lot of rock. Around 10:15 we said our farewells for the evening.

Tomorrow, mass at Grand-Pre and closing concert in Halifax. We're going to try to look for each other.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Bonjour from Grand-pre!

I'm writing from the Public Internet Access Site in the new visitor's center at Grand-Pre National Historic Site. I sit a couple hundred yards away from the memorial church of St. Charles-des-Mines. A vast vacant field to my left out the window is being prepared for Sunday's closing mass.

I drove up from Yarmouth early this morning, stopping by Annapolis Royal, then to the Melanson Settlement National Historic Site, to Belle Isle Hall (which now has exhibits of Acadian artifacts and is dedicated to the memory of the Savoie family whose nearby farm has also been excavated), drove past the LeBlanc homestead, and then to Grand-Pre.

I finally got to meet my fourth-cousin-twice-removed, Lucie LeBlanc Consentino, who gave a wonderful talk on Acadians of New England. In a quickly convened meeting of the Society of New England Acadians, my design for a flag for this overlooked Acadian population was unanimously adopted. :-)

The visitor center has a very nice exhibit which includes a cut-through model of a dyke, a model of a village, and artifacts from digs. I roamed the site, taking a number of pictures.

Then across the road to visit the Grand-Pre Festival.

In 25 minutes I'm going on the Dyke/Acadian Cross tour, then off to Belliveau Cove for the beginning of the LeBlanc Reunion.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

A review of the day

Took a drive down to Pubnico today. Went to Le Village historique Acadien de la Nouvelle-Ecosse and the Musee Acadien, where I spent a few hours in the archive. Had a late lunch at the Dennis Point Cafe, with some seafood chowder and my first rappie pie. Returned to Yarmouth, and spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the town.

Greetings from Acadie!

I arrived safely yesterday afternoon. Got up at 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport in time for my 6:30 flight. Flew to Toronto, then to Halifax. I awoke from a nap on the plane just in time to look out the window to a beautiful view of the Annapolis Valley as we flew over the coast of Nova Scotia. Stopped to see friends in Bridgewater, arriving just in time for supper (they were expecting me) then on to Yarmouth, where I'm staying with other friends for most of this week. I'm off to West Pubnico today.

Downside is I'm having problems connecting to my e-mail.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Last post before I leave

I'll be leaving in the morning (6:45 a.m. flight to Toronto, then to Halifax), so this will be it for now. I may be able to do some end-of-day blogging from Nova Scotia--À bientôt!

More Cheticamp photos

Galleries five and six, with photos of Bruce Daigrepont, Waylon Thibodeaux, and various VIPs, including premier John Hamm.

Paul Martin is coming

Prime Minister to Attend Mass and Closing Ceremonies of the World Acadian Congress at Grand-Pré on Sunday.

A search for roots in the broader Western world

Ralph Surette writes, "Every family has a dramatic story of flight and/or bare survival from the destruction of Acadia."
The Congrès mondial acadien is a fantastic party. So much so that it's giving Acadians of a certain vintage--myself, for example--some trouble adjusting to being a cultural hot commodity after centuries of being more or less told to disappear.

Monday, August 09, 2004

1999 CMA LeBlanc Reunion

I had my dad scan some photos my mother took at the Famille de LeBlanc Reunion in Erath, Lousiana, during the 1999 Congrès Mondial Acadien.

Now accessible

You used to have to view the deportation cross at Grand Pré through a telescope. Now Acadian Cross Historic Site is open and accessible to visitors.

Look for me in Acadie ...

I've made a couple t-shirts to wear for the LeBlanc reunion. On the front, three flags of Acadie (the well known ones, and my design for a New England flag); on the back, the chart of my descent from Daniel LeBlanc.

More Festival du Matin photos

Gallery 3; Gallery 4.

Beaubassin: Our Living History

Beaubassin: Our Living History. Mass on August 14, on location of Assumption parish, will include ringing of the bell that was in the original church.

Le Congrès mondial acadien semble attirer moins de visiteurs que prévu

Report that events so far have only attracted about half the participants expected, notably the Festival du Mitan. But others say it is too soon to tell.

Un hommage au père Anselme Chiasson

Un hommage au père Anselme Chiasson.

Festival du Mitan photos

Festival du Mitan in Chéticamp, August 5. Photos at CMA webpage. Gallery 1; Gallery 2.

Acadian Cross Historical Site

Acadian Cross Historical Site webpage (the Deportation Cross at Grand-Pre).

Cajun Day at Grand-Pré

Congrès devotes day to Louisiana cousins.

Daigle reunion report

The Daigle reunion was this past weekend in Halifax.

Whittling history

Don Marston of Gaspereau had a 1-meter piece of pine from an aboiteau; he's been using it now to whittle wooden crosses which are now being sold in Kentville, Wolfville and Berwick.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Coins salute French arrival

Coins salute French arrival.
The Royal Canadian Mint has joined La Monnaie de Paris in issuing coins marking the 400th anniversary of the first French settlement in Canada.

Canadian and American officials first showed the new circulating 'L'Acadie' quarter at St. Croix Island in the St. Croix River, the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick.

Commemorative versions of the coin are available, too, but Canadian officials wanted to heighten awareness of the event by putting the quarter in circulation.

CMA Photo Gallery

CMA webpage now has a photo gallery up of the opening in Clare. Soon to come, pictures of the Mitan at Cheéticamp.

25 ways to spell a name

Thibodeaux genealogy easy to trace, but spellings harder to decipher. Many Louisiana names differ from the Canadian version by having an "x" on the end--e.g., Boudreaux, Thibodeaux, Brasseaux, Comeaux--but it has nothing to do with marks made by illiterate people, says historian Carl Brasseaux. The "x" form was a variant in the 19th century, and there was an effort to standardize spellings in the 1820 census. But he fears it will be hard to eradicate the myth. "Once these things take a life of their own, like the urban myths on the Internet, you never eradicate these things."

Congrès brings long-distance families together

Congrès brings long-distance families together. Report on the Thibodeaux reunion, which included a party at the Shaw homestead--a family descended from the New England planters who settled on Thibodeaux land after Le Grand Derangement.
"It's a great feeling," said Dorothy Thibodeaux Boudreaux, a native of Church Point and resident of Houston. "It feels like we're home."
That sentiment, was shared, ironically, by a Shaw descendent.
Despite the lyrical sounds of various French and English accents, the one voice that captured everyone's attention was that of Sara Beanlands, a Shaw descendant with no Acadian heritage, who delivered a lecture on her famil's farm.

Beanlands' farm lies in the area once known as Pisiquid, land that was once a Thibodeaux farm. Samples from the house's beams and foundation are currently being date-tested to see if the structure was once a Thibodeaux house, Beanlands said.

She invited the Thibodeauxs to visit the farm, view the home's old beams and foundation and an excavation site that uncovered Acadian artifacts believed to date back to 1749. Dozens of Thibodeauxs took her up on the offer and the Shaws graciously opened their home.

"Welcome to the Shaw ancestral land," Beanlands said on Tuesday, enthusiastic to share her historical findings with people equally interested. "This is really about the land because only you and the Shaws have inhabited this land.

"Welcome home," she finished.

Archaeologists have been excavating other Acadian sites in the area. We visited the Saint-Famille cemetery on a visit to the Pisiquid area last year.
Walking back to the farmhouse, the Thibodeauxs passed a small historical marker that Beanlands erected for the occasion. It simply stated that the Shaw land was settled by "Pierre Thibodeau and Anne Bourg in 1690."

"We put it up yesterday," she said with a smile.

"But it's going to stay for a long time."