In the late 1800s and the early part of the 20th century, River Bourgeois was a busy sea port.

Ephrem Boudreau was born in River Bourgeois in 1905. After his classical studies from 1922 to 1928 at the seminary at Trois Rivière, 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’Université de Laval in 1935.

In 1980, he published, in Editions d’Acadie, the history of the Trappists in Nova Scotia (1823-1919) entitled Le Petit Clairvaux. He also authored Rivière Bourgeois from which this history is taken and translated.

One of the last schooners seen in the bay at River Bourgeois was that of Captain Anselme Samson (1862-1938). Known as Alex Fraser, it was remodeled and named Minnie A.; finally she was called Rosie M.B.

At the home of Victor Digout is a photo of the schooner Tyler, 65 tons, owned jointly by Charles Boudreau (great uncle of Ephrem) and W. Levesconte. The photo was taken around 1909-1910 in the Haut-du Bras facing the home of Mr. Victor Digout. Charles Boudreau lived a half mile further west but the water in front of his house wasn’t deep enough to anchor the schooner, and this explains the distance from his home.

In 1972 Mr. Digout told us a schooner, the Annie E. Paint, owned by Alfred Bissett, his brother George, Dr. Bissett and son of “Old Bizette” left in 1900 for British Columbia, a long and perilous journey at that time because the Panama Canal did not yet exist. They had to go around the Americas, the Cape of Good Hope or the Strait of Magellan to arrive at a higher latitude from the one that they had left.

The Annie E. Paint had been built in 1900 at Port Hawkesbury (Cape Breton) by R. McVicar for Peter Paint. Alfred Bissett became the owner in that same year.

There was also the little schooner, Thistle, belonging to Michel Boudreau (1848-1925) (grandfather of Ephrem). For some time he and his son Elie 1884-1976) used the ship to fish off the coast of Glace Bay.

The bewitched schooner

There was a schooner belonging to someone named Somers of Sand Point on the west coast of the Strait of Canso. It was Joseph-P. Bourque who told us of this fact in 1974. He was totally convinced of the truth of what he said.

Someone had “cast a spell” on the schooner or its owner. Even though the water was deep and the anchor had been raised for some time, it was impossible to move the schooner. Mr. Bourque swore that he was a witness to this event. He said that the schooner was “bewitched.”

The “bounty” was money that the United States paid to the government for allowing them to fish Canadian waters. This money was remitted to the fishermen. The share usually amounted to $5. In order to receive this money one had to fish for at least three months in the year.

William Boyd (son of Donald) was the government agent responsible for distributing this money.