This is the former West Arichat home of Walter Dugas.

The book Acadian Lives consists of interviews with Cape Breton Acadians and was collected and edited by Ronald Kaplan, with Rosie Aucoin Grace. The book was published in 2004 and included an interview with Walter Dugas of West Arichat:

“…I would like to be able to say that I’m the last one in West Arichat that made one of those fences.

“I would go into the woods and I’d cut the small pieces of wood, that were maybe three-and-a-half, four feet long, and I would cut 40 at a time and I would tie them together… I finished by braiding the fence. It took 1,740 pieces to make the fence for the little garden I have there.

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“No one taught me how to braid it… the old people, I had watched them do it, how they did it, and then I did the same thing.

“There were three ribs; one on top, one in the middle and one on the bottom. One would pass one of the small pieces of wood on the side of the bottom rib, then on the inside of the middle rib returning on the outside of the top rib. One would do the opposite with the next one and again the opposite with the next one until you had finished going around. One would have ribs 16, 17 feet long. The ribs are nailed to the posts but the small braided pieces of wood aren’t nailed. And then you continue There are maybe… 3, 6, 8, 10 pagés to go around the small garden that I plant, a small summer garden.

“A pagé is a section, let’s say 16 to 18 feet wide. It depends on how long the ribs were cut, and the pickets. You attach the ribs from one picket to the next, the three ribs first. And then you braid. We call them poles but I think the old people called them splints. You braid the splints from one pagé and when that’s finished, you make another three ribs, and you continue until you’ve finished going around.

This is a picture of Walter Dugas’ woodpile in West Arichat.

“… We used spruce and what you call fir, it makes no difference. And it’s a good fence, it lasts. I know one that was supposed to be 90 years old when it was taken apart. It is solid, the wind has no hold on it; and at the same time it is good shelter for the garden. I am the only person in West Arichat that has such a fence!

“…I probably started [the fence] in ’75…I started in the spring and I finished it in a couple of months. It took longer than that to cut the wood that made it. I had cut the previous winter, almost all winter, all the pieces of wood. I would go to the woods every day that it was nice…

“I started the woodpile last winter…the 8thof September [1980]. While it was nice I would cut with a little hand saw and a small axe. I would cut an hour-and-a-half, two hours in the morning; an hour-and-a-half, two hours in the afternoon – every day that it was nice. Last winter I started the 12thof September, the previous winter the 8thof September. When it got to be February… I had enough wood cut. I had pictures taken of this woodpile because it is going to be my last. I will never be able to cut another. My cutting days are over.”