After winter drift ice floated up the Strait of Canso, it would disperse into the harbours of Arichat (pictured), Canso, Mulgrave, and Guysborough.

After winter drift ice floated up the Strait of Canso, it would disperse into the harbours of Arichat, Canso, Mulgrave, and Guysborough.
For mariners and other seafarers, winter meant contending with ice floes.
This northern drift ice would make its way into the Strait of Canso wreaking havoc on communities which were so dependent on ocean transportation. The usual course for the ice was to meander through the Strait up to Port Hastings where it would pile up due to the narrow entrance there. Eventually, however, the ice would free itself and lay siege to the harbours all along both sides of the Strait.
It was not uncommon for the ports of Arichat, Canso, Mulgrave, and Guysborough to be strangled by ice floes. This resulted in major disruptions to freight and passenger traffic and brought the free flow of commerce to a halt.


The first mention of a public school in West Arichat through school reports was in 1832 under the tutelage of N. Doyle who appears to have worked at the school in 1832, 1840, 1845, and from 1847 to 1850. Working alongside Doyle at the school was Henri Renouard in 1840, 1845, and 1847.
Though submitting the school reports at these dates, Henri Renouard more than likely worked throughout this period between the dates of submission. Henri Renouard was from France and had migrated to the Arichat region where he settled and commenced teaching at the public school in 1840. He is known to have married Domithilde Arsenault in Grande-Digue, New Brunswick in 1841 though continuing to live and work in West Arichat until at least 1847.
Other Acadian public school teachers in West Arichat of whom very little is known included Miss Bouton teaching from 1848 to 1850; Miss LeBlanc (from Arichat) 1849 and 1850; and finally Miss Forêt 1849 to 1850. A private teaching institution was established in West Arichat by the Notre-Dame Sisters of Montréal who came to establish a convent-school in 1862. The sisters who taught came from the larger convent already established in Arichat in 1856.


Arichat had an active and devout Anglican congregation, one that was at least as old as its Roman Catholic counterpart. In fact, it is the second oldest Anglican parish in Cape Breton after St. George’s in Sydney.
Soon after the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, pioneers, who had migrated from Jersey in the Channel Islands, made their way to Isle Madame. Some parishioners, however, came from England, Scotland, and Germany. Such names as Rhyndress, Lafford, Robertson, Cutler, MacDonald, Edwards, Murphy, Chandler, Turnbull, Shaw, Burge, and Latimer were common.
Prior to the building of the church, services were conducted in private homes and in the old courthouse. One of the houses often in use was that of John E. Jean, a prosperous businessman of Huguenot descent.
However, it wasn’t until 1824 that any thought was given to constructing a church for the Anglican faithful. When the parishioners applied unsuccessfully for a grant from the Legislative Assembly, Captain Clement Hubert stepped forward with a substantial monetary contribution. This, combined with the donation of land by Edward E. Binet, a Jersey native and prominent entrepreneur, made it possible for the opening, in 1828, of St. John’s Church of England of Isle Madame, very close to where the present building stands.