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.


Most Acadian families, if not all, had their nicknames. The names served to distinguish the different lines that carried the same surname, as in the case of Samson for example: the Wolves and the Trout. It indicated, perhaps also, a time when a fault, a character trait was attributed to a certain family. The nickname Madouèce (porcupine) given to certain Boudreau families might signify an unlikeable quality because they were unfriendly.

Not only Acadians were given nicknames. We know that in a neighbouring community to River Bourgeois, two real Scottish families of MacDonalds carried different nicknames; one was called Calreed and the other Kilawee.

Examples of nicknames:

Béranger Les Crouques

Bouchard les Canards (ducks)

Boudreau les Madouèces les Lièvres (rabbits)

Bourque les Biorques (butor) les Boyarts

Fougère les Chenilles (caterpillars)

Landry (Edmond) les Berris

Landry (Charles, père d’Abram) les Caribous (caribou)

Richard les Cailloux (stones)

Samson (Thomas) les Loups (wolf)

Samson (David) les Truites (trout)

“The Parish”

  1. River Bourgeois: mission church of Arichat and L’Ardoise

Until 1823 River Bourgeois was part of the parish of Arichat, and received, from time to time visits from priests or missionaries posted there.

Like River Bourgeois, L’Ardoise became a mission of Arichat in 1820; in 1822 Bishop Plessis wrote to Fr,. Hudon, priest at Arichat, to inform him he must send to L’Ardoise Fr. Henry McKeagney; he arrived there in January 1823. From this time, L’Ardoise detached from Arichat and became an independent parish. It was a vast mission extending from L’Ardoise to River Bourgeois and including St. Peter’s. There was also a spiritual need for the natives of Cape Breton because the mission at Chapel Island was only a few miles from L’Ardoise.

By 1821, Acadians had been established at River Bourgeois probably for some fifty years, but they still did not have a resident priest. In terms of a spiritual plan they felt neglected and thought it was high time that they have a priest of their own. This was stated in a letter from Fr. Remi Gaulin to the bishop of Quebes Mgr Plessis dated March 4, 1821. The following are pertinent passages from this letter:

“Arichat March 4, 1821

For a long time the inhabitants of St. Peter’s Bay (that is to say the missions at L’Ardoise and Grand-Digue making up 160 families) have solicited your Excellency to supply us with a priest…

…it is very difficult, often impossible, for the people of St. Peter’s Bay to procure a priest when needed most because of the difficult distances, which in certain seasons can be perilous…

…the missionaries visit twice per year the aforementioned places. They spend one week in each place which is certainly too little.”