Ephrem Boudreau wrote Riviere Bourgeois from which this history is taken and translated.
Fr. Alexander M. O’Handley (November 17, 1895-December 13, 1902) was the priest at River Bourgeois for seven or eight years.
His conduct was not exemplary due to his drunkenness. When a prohibition order was pronounced against him, he was forced to leave. He fled to Hamilton (Ontario) where he was accepted, but in the end he left the church.
Fr. Gustave Treunet (December 31, 1902-October 1, 1904), originally from the parish of Albi in France, left memories in the parish of an excellent and charming priest. He was ordained in 1896.
It was said that he escaped from France and sought refuge with a Caplan family at Gaspasie disguised in civilian clothes. He lived in Montreal for a while always dressed as a civilian, but his true identity was revealed and after several attempts was accepted in the diocese of Bishop Cameron at River Bourgeois and at Petit de Grat.
Fr. Treunet did not remain long in Nova Scotia. After a disagreement with a Filles de Jesus sister, he was dismissed and went to the Pacific coast to Seattle in the state of Washington.
It is advisable to pause a bit longer on the life and work of Fr. Joseph-Henri-Louis de Gonzague Chouinard (October 1, 1904-December 1, 1909).
For a long time he was a kind of legendary figure. His way of managing the parish, and his particular conception of Christian perfection, and the means it was necessary to take to guide souls to their eternal destiny, he left in the spirit of his parishioners the memory of an administration marked by an austerity that often exceeded reasonableness and could hardly be accepted and understood by the good Catholics of the time. In other words, he wanted to impose on his parishioners a discipline more appropriate to a religious community than to simple parishioners even though they had good common sense.
Let us, first of all, list the principal stages of his long life in terms of the parishes where he worked and the places where he lived after having asserted his rights to retirement.
He was born in Rimouski in the Province of Quebec, January 15, 1875. On March 1, 1903, his studies completed, he was ordained in his native town at the age of 28. On the invitation of Mgr Cameron, bishop of Antigonish, he joined the clergy of this diocese. Here are some of the parishes he served: Havre Boucher: a few months with the celebrated Fr. Coady; Margaree in Cape Breton, approximately six months with Fr. Mombourquette who was later the priest at Arichat; Guysborough: around eight months with Fr. Tomkins to familiarize himself with the English language; and Bridgeport, a small area near Glace Bay in Cape Breton, six months with a Fr. MacDonald; and Petit de Grat, he was the first priest of this parish where he stayed from 1911 to 1916.
In River Bourgeois, he was priest from 1904 to 1909. His grandmother, who lived with him, died and was buried in the parish. Her tombstone bears the following inscription:
“To the fond memory of Danielle Chouinard.
Born at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pointe-au-Pere, of Rimouski
Deceased August 3, 1905 – 82 years.”