ARICHAT: A Richmond County author’s most recent book offers a window into the rich history of Isle Madame.
In his newly released A Brief History of Ile Madame: Part 2, Arichat historian Don Boudrot explores the history of the communities of Arichat, West Arichat, Petit de Grat, and D’Escousse.
Boudrot says the new book is a continuation of another book he wrote on the history of Isle Madame 15 years ago.
“The first book I wrote was called The Days of Iron Men and Wooden Ships: a Brief History of Ile Madame,” said Boudrot. “Since that time more and more stuff came out. People shared things with me and I did more research. It just didn’t seem right to leave things where they were with the first book because there was so much more.”
His new book includes information on the four Isle Madame communities dating as far back as the 16th century.
“I would say though it really starts in the middle of the 1700s when the Robins people came over and set up a fish plant. Before that, there were only a handful of people who lived here full time. Otherwise they were itinerate fishermen,” Boudrot said.
The book tells the stories of many historical figures that had an impact on the area, such as John Paul Jones who led an attack on Jerseyman’s Island during the American War of Independence. He also tells the story of the Ballem sisters, two local women who gained an international reputation for creating ornate tapestries.
“One sold for $9,000 in 1940,” said Boudrot “The two sisters went blind doing their needlework. Of course with the poor lighting at the time, they both lost their eyesight.”
In addition to the pictures and stories from Isle Madame’s past, Boudrot included a list of Acadian words and their French equivalents.
“Around here people speak half French and half English and a lot of people are interested in what is the real French word and what is the English word,” said Boudrot.
Boudrot also writes a weekly column for The Reporter called “Repeating history.” He is a retired English teacher and taught at Richmond Education Centre and Academy and Isle Madame District High School for a total of 38 years. Boudrot always had an interest in history, a passion that was encouraged by his father, Lorenzo Boudreau.
Over the years, Boudrot has authored several books including A Walk through the Past, which he co-authored with his father. It told the history of every house and building in Arichat in 1935, and was very popular with local readers.
“My father had a phenomenal memory, so that made it a lot easier. He was 12 years old in 1935, so his memory of who was doing what and who lived where was pretty sharp,” Boudrot said.
In his research, Boudrot gathers information from original documents such as school and church registers, as well as the resources available through the Isle Madame Historical Society. He also draws from the work of other historians including Marshall Bourinot, Dr. Charles Herbin, and Ron Caplan.
Boudrot says he feels it is important for people to remember the past.
“If you don’t know history it’s difficult to understand the present, because everything that happens, what we do, and who we are, is rooted in what happened before,” Boudrot said.
Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of A Brief History of Ile Madame Part 2 can contact Boudrot or his wife, Donna.