Charles-Pierre Martel (1828-1891) served River Bourgeois from November 18, 1877 to August 19, 1888.
His first entry in the parish register was dated November 18, 1877. He was in charge of the parish for almost 11 years.
Charles-Pierre Martel was born of Acadian parents at Arichat on December 3, 1828. He attended business school at Arichat and went into business for himself. He was a merchant for a number of years and proved to be a very clever businessman. He was the younger brother of Henri Martel, at that time, Member of the Legislature for Richmond County, and one of the five administrators of the new seminary.
After a number of years, Charles Martel abandoned his commercial interests and resumed his studies. He studied theology and philosophy at Antigonish, missing only three months while at the Grand Séminaire in Quebec. During his studies, he taught music at Arichat in 1854 and French at Antigonish in 1855. He was one of the pioneers of education at St. Francis Xavier University. He was also secretary to Bishop MacKinnon. He was ordained on May 27, 1860 at St. Ninian’s Church in Antigonish at the same time as one of his colleagues, Hugh Gillis of South River. He was the second Acadian of the diocese to be ordained and the first in Cape Breton.
His nephew, Fr. Guillaume LeBlanc, who had been pastor at River Bourgeois since 1869, left in 1877. Fr. Martel replaced him and directed the parish until 1888.
He was a skillful administrator, an energetic and zealous priest. He had, in fact, acquired valuable experience at Tracadie where he oversaw the simultaneous construction of three churches, Tracadie, Havre Boucher, and Pomquet. His ability and keen business sense resulted in successful conclusions to the three projects. In religious and spiritual matters his qualities were no less.
Victor Digout of River Bourgeois, a man in his 90s, did not know Fr. Martel personally, but he has stated that it was not many years ago that older parishioners told of the fond memories they had of Fr. Martel and his reputation of having a fine singing voice. After all, had he not taught music during his studies?
At the relatively young age of 63, Fr. Martel died in River Bourgeois on March 21, 1891 at the home of Joseph (“Josi”) Deslauriers where he had retired.
In poor health, he continued to say mass in this home, which still stands but has undergone extensive modifications. It is now owned by Edward Touesnard. When Fr. Martel retired in 1888, he was replaced by Fr. Michael MacKenzie.