Isidore LeBlanc

Isidore LeBlanc’s grandfather, Mathurin LeBlanc, was born in Grand Pré.

He escaped deportation in 1755 and settled in Arichat some 20 years later. At the time, Arichat was a thriving fishing community based on the entrepreneurial efforts of the Robins, a well-known Jersey family who had established a fishing operation on Jerseyman’s Island in the 1760’s.

Isidore was born on November 30, 1837, the same year that the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church celebrated its first mass. He was the son of Pierre LeBlanc and Barbara Landry.

After attending school at Arichat, Isidore, like his father and grandfather before him, took to the sea. He was 14 years old. For the next 20 years, he travelled the world as Ship’s Master to the U.S., Europe, South America, and the West Indies. He even piloted several French war ships between Halifax and Arichat, as well as on the St. Lawrence.

On January 9, 1860 he married Séraphine Babin, daughter of Captain Simon Babin. Isidore and Seraphine had three sons and three daughters who lived to adulthood.

Isidore LeBlanc was a captain, ship owner, politician, merchant, commissions’ merchant, shipbroker, agent for underwriters and shipping insurance companies, and a politician. As well, he was a Notary Public, and in 1866, LeBlanc was appointed Justice of the Peace, an indication of his social and financial standing in the community.

By 1870 he had put his days at sea behind him. He established a general store and wharf at the west end of Arichat from which he provisioned ships for about a decade. At the same time he continued to buy and sell ships. In 1875, for example, he commissioned a 410-ton three-masted barque, the County of Richmond, “the largest vessel produced in the southern part of Cape Breton.” LeBlanc was fond of saying in the Legislature that he built the County of Richmond, owned the County of Richmond, and ran the County of Richmond. Not realizing he was referring to his ship, his colleagues were left in amazement.

In 1871 LeBlanc tried his hand at politics, but was unsuccessful in capturing the seat for the Liberals in the Provincial Legislature. Such was not the case in the provincial election of 1878 when he was elected to the House of Assembly as an Independent. At that time, Richmond County was represented by two members; the other was Alexander McCuish. LeBlanc fought tirelessly and passionately for his constituents.

He sat in opposition for four years until the Liberals came to power in 1882. He served on the Executive Council from February 18, 1883 to June 1886, the first Acadian to attain cabinet rank in Nova Scotia. He did not reoffer in the election of 1886. On March 10, 1887, he was appointed to the Legislative Council on which he sat until his death.

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Don Boudrot is a retired English teacher, currently an author and historian living on Isle Madame.