History of River Bourgeois

Pictured is the village of River Bourgeois.

Ephrem Boudreau was born in River Bourgeois in 1905. After his classical studies from 1922 to 1928 at the seminary at Trois Riviere, he spent three years at agricultural school at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere. Here he earned bachelors’ degrees in arts and one in agricultural science. In addition, he acquired a diploma in Social Sciences from l’Universite de Laval in 1935.

He wrote  Riviere Bourgeois  from which this history is taken and translated.

Continuation of stories about Father Chouinard:

One fine winter evening, Charlotte (a servant at the presbytery) went out for a little walk. On her return Fr. Chouinard asked her where she had gone. “To the hill,” she said, “it is so nice that many people go there to skate on the ice.” “How is this,” he said, “today is Sunday and people are skating!”

He left immediately armed with a whip and chased the skaters from the ice. He did not permit girls and boys to skate together. He also forbade girls from going swimming. Another time he saw a boy and girl walking together on the road. Afterward he rebuked the young man who said that he was with his sister. “That makes no difference,” he answered the young man, “those who saw you could think that you were with another girl.”

During his stay at River Bourgeois, Fr. Chouinard occupied himself with the work of enlarging the church and then with the restoration of the presbytery. It was said that he had, for some reason, obtained a certain amount of money from the entrepreneur Terriot. The latter sued him and won, obliging the priest to pay the outstanding amount. This affair was the cause of his dismissal, or his resignation, in 1909.

Perhaps we should not judge this priest too severely because of some possible intellectual mistakes, or for other reasons; it was his way of conserving religion and he was convinced that his work was in preparation for the coming of Christ on earth.

He was not the only who had faults, and he also had fine qualities. According to the testimony of Charlotte Samson, whose memory we have already called upon, and who worked in the presbytery when she was a young woman and according to other people who knew him well, Fr. Chouinard, when he was in the presbytery, was of an agreeable nature.

Probably Fr. Chouinard bears some of the blame for the quarrels, but it is difficult to know who was most responsible.

An investigation into these squabbles was conducted by Fr. Thompson of Glace Bay. He submitted a report “Necnon laudo.”

Fr. Chouinard left the parish of River Bourgeois in 1909. Was he asked to resign or did he resign of his own accord and why?

In any event, from River Bourgeois he went to Petit de Grat where he carried on the functions of a priest in that parish from 1911 to 1916. And it was there that his stay in Nova Scotia came to and end.

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