Ephrem Boudreau was born in River Bourgeois in 1905. After his classical studies, he spent three years at agricultural school. Here he earned bachelors’ degrees in arts and one in agricultural science. He wrote Riviere-Bourgeois from which this history is taken and translated.
For a long time Les Etangs was where the Richards lived. The first settler, however, was Léli Cordeau to whom the government had granted land around 1770. Land grants also went to Urbain Cordeau, Richard McPhee, Patrice Pâté, and Galetan (or Gaétan) Richard, but for many years no one lived there but the Richards.
In 1971 there was only one house at Les Etangs and only one person, Hilaire (Élaire à Pierre) Richard, the last of a long lineage. He left his solitary home due to his advanced age. He died on January 5, 1981 at the age of 94.
In 1943 besides this house, there was that of Isaie Richard. Before the Richards there were four families of Bourques at Les Etangs who left and moved to le Bord-du-Sud to be closer to the centre of the parish. These families were that of Aime Bourque, Charlie Bourque, Damien (Guedou) Bourque, and Abram Bourque. It was the latter who, in 1943, at the age of 76, provided me with this information. According to him there had been 10 families there at one time.
After Les Etangs, around 1795, French settlers established their homes on one of the two shorelines.
Some 10 years later, around 1805, Pierre, Jean, and Béoni (or Béloni) Landry, Louis Boucher, Jean, Louis, and Thomas Samson, and Charles Vital LeBlanc were the first to receive government land grants.
According to the custom of the time, Acadians settled on lands without legal right of occupation because the lords of these territories were unwilling to surrender these lands to a people whose ancestors were outcast and undesirable, but eventually, they recognized the reality of the situation and granted them the land they had occupied, in some cases, for decades.
In the census of 1811 the following names are noted: Landry, Samson, Dugas, Bourque, Boucher, Fougère, Pitre, and Babin.
In 1824 there were 30 families in River Bourgeois. Laurence Kavanagh, of St. Peter’s, who was responsible for education in the province, wrote:
“At River Bourgeois, there are 30 families, and about 40 children fit for schooling, the people are poor and not in circumstances to support a teacher.”
Four years later, in November 1828, Fr. Jean-Baptiste Potvin, priest at Arichat, wrote to his bishop, Monsignor Panet, stating that there were 40 families in the parish.
In 1833, Simon Fougère, Jean Landry (great grandfather of Mrs. Victor Digout), and Martial (or Marcel) Dugas were awarded land grants.
In le Haut-du-Bras, the land which belonged to Docité Fougère and his son Simon (died in 1972), had originally been granted to Donald Morrison, father of James (Jim 1836-1907) and Archie, two rare Scotsmen who belonged to the River Bourgeois parish. Archie, father of Hillary (who died within 60 years), lived at La Briquerie, and Tom, son of Jim, lived at Sporting Mountain (near Seaview), five miles north of Haut-du-Bras where he operated a farm of some importance.
Hilaire (Élaire) Richard affirmed for many years that his great grandfather, a Mr. Dugas, left Chezzetcook and settled at Patounne Point near the entrance to Grand Gulley.