River Bourgeois parish history

Ephrem Boudreau was born in River Bourgeois in 1905. After his classical studies, he spent three years at agricultural school. 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.

The first real church was built around 1840-1841 on the site of the present church. This church had a platform which extended to the end of the building on both sides.

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In 1843, on the occasion of the blessing of the bell, as recorded by the following entry in the parish register:

“Blessing of the bell named Jean Bte: 5 November 1843, our priest blessed the bell after the ceremonies prescribed by ritual. The godfather and godmother were Jean Bourque and Marie Poirier who gave the name Jean-Baptiste. – J. Courtaud ptre”

This church was still in existence at the beginning of the century. Simon Fougère claims he did his first communion there.

As to the location of this church, a man named Simon Landry ceded on April 11, 1868, to the first priest, Fr. Guillaume-Marin LeBlanc, a property which became the property of the parish.

The first church became too small. It was reconstructed and enlarged during the time of Fr. Chouinard, between 1905 and 1909, by Désiré Terriot of the Magdalene Islands who had built, in the parish, the house of Mr. LeVesconte, merchant and the fourth school at Le Fond-du-Bras.

The roof of the church was raised; the side windows were removed; the building was extended some 30 feet at the front, and a new bell was provided as were decorations and statues which completed the interior.

This church still stands much as it was when it was built, but around 1960, the beautiful, long, slender steeple had to be removed because of deterioration. Now a smaller bell tower adorns the façade of this church which, like the Gothic cathedrals of France, faces the setting sun.

The interior of the church was completely renovated around 1917-1918 by a Mr. Marcoux of Quebec. Fr. Pierre Robitaille, originally from Quebec, was the priest at River Bourgeois at this time.

In August 1928 the sacristy was enlarged. This was necessary because it was only 25 feet long, and in winter, the mass was often said in the sacristy which was easier to heat. It was lengthened by 13 feet making it 38 feet long.

Amable à Naré Bourque was one of the main workers or master carpenters who brought about this transformation. The side wall was detached from the building by means of pulleys and moved the desired distance. Then the walls and roof were constructed in the space provided by removing the side wall.

The author of this history (Ephrem Boudreau) was in River Bourgeois on vacation in the summer of 1928 and applauded the “master carpenters” for their work on this project. A note in his journal reads:

“I worked for 8 hours today [22 August] at the new sacristy with Amable Bourque.”

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Don Boudrot is a retired English teacher, currently an author and historian living on Isle Madame.