Ephrem Boudreau was born in River Bourgeois in 1905. He wrote Riviere Bourgeois from which this history is taken and translated.
In 1938, the church underwent major repairs. This came about, no doubt, as a result of the replacement of the roof and the painting of the walls. One can conclude this from a letter addressed to the author on December 18, 1938 which reads:
“… This summer the parishioners of River Bourgeois undertook the restoration of their church; an enterprise costing $2,500. To fully understand the value of these parishioners, it is necessary to realize how well they responded to the appeal of their pastor in that they voluntarily gave freely of their work as carpenters and painters.
“I counted 22 carpenters and 16 painters.
“And further they raised enough money to pay for the materials minus $150.”
The church’s interior was renovated in the 1960s during the time of Fr. Samson.
The construction of the first presbytery, or at least one of the first, would go back to the canonical erection of the parish which took place in 1869.
Jean Samson (“Johnnie à Millina”) born around 1850, son of Charles, worked when he was a young man on the excavation of the basement of the presbytery, at least this is what he told one of his neighbours, Simon Samson (1905-1975). Supposing he was in his 20s, this would be the first years the parish was officially in existence.
Our informant states, in addition, that it was Fr. Guillaume LeBlanc who had the presbytery built. He was the first priest at River Bourgeois for some eight years from 1869 to 1877.
This presbytery served the parish until the time of Fr. Flavien Samson, 1950 to 1965. Some years after coming to the parish, he had the current presbytery built and the old presbytery was given to the Filles de Jesus sisters to serve them as a convent as the new school on “La Pointe” had just been built near the church, and in large part, the education of the children was the responsibility of the sisters.
After several years, the convent became unnecessary as education became more secularized and those nuns who continued to teach lived in either L’Ardoise or Louisdale and modernization in the form of the automobile had begun. For this reason, the convent was sold to an individual and moved south of the road. It was relocated near the former home of Thomas (Toumas) Samson.
In 1986 it was still there.
Priests of River Bourgeois
Guillaume-Marin LeBlanc (1834-1907) served as priest from August 8, 1869 to November 5, 1877. This man has the honour of being the first priest at River Bourgeois, following the canonical erection of the parish. Father LeBlanc was born in Arichat in 1834. He was one of the first three Acadians from Cape Breton to be elevated to the priesthood.
The following give their names and dates of ordination:
Charles-Pierre Martel May 27, 1860
Guillaume-Marin LeBlanc April 22, 1866
Théophile Richard September 5, 1869
Fr. LeBlanc was probably ordained at Arichat, the parish of his birth, by Monsignor MacKinnon, Bishop of Arichat. Before his time at River Bourgeois, he was the priest at Cap-Nord, and after leaving River Bourgeois, he served in the following parishes: Cow Bay from March 10 to November 3, 1878; Port Felix December 1878 to August 1879; and Friar’s Head (today Cap LeMoine) September 8, 1879 to 1892, some 13 years.