In studying the history of a village, town or county, it is those individuals who had an impact on the life of their time who receive the recognition – and rightfully so.
Successful entrepreneurs like the Jeans, Lavescontes, Janvrins, and Robins; prominent politicians like Sen. Miller, Laurence Kavanagh, and Edmund Power Flynn; persons outstanding in medicine, law, the arts, sports; the early ship builders and sailors – these made our history and deserve their place in it.
But what of the “little people” and the little things that provided a context for the “big” things and people to make their mark. There are innumerable colourful individuals and events, and here are a few of them.
Emily Claire Beausejour (de Belfontaine) was born in Arichat in 1877, the daughter of Jeremy Beausejour and Isabelle Louise LeBlanc. In 1892 when Emily Claire was 15, the family moved to New York City. Apparently her natural beauty was noticed and appreciated by those in the fashion circles of the time. Very quickly and at a very tender age, Emily Claire Beausejour became an icon of the fashion and modeling industry. Emily Claire Beausejour wore the mantle of top fashion model with elegance and brought pride to all those who knew “the pretty little girl from Arichat.”
Charles S. Malzard of Arichat gave an account of an elderly lady who moved to the head of Arichat harbour after the siege of Louisbourg in 1758. She had in her possession a chalice and paten which her parents had salvaged from the ruins of the chapel at the fortress. These artifacts remained with the family for many years. Then sometime after 1828, a member of this family, who was housekeeper for the first rector of St. John’s Anglican parish, Rev. James Allan Shaw, concerned for the safekeeping of the relics, placed them in the hands of Rev. Shaw. Some years later Rev. Shaw’s grandson, Rev. James Allan Andrew, donated the chalice and paten to the museum at the Fortress of Louisbourg.
People of a certain age will certainly recognize the name Katharine Hepburn as indisputably one of the great actresses of the 20th century. She won multiple awards in a career spanning over six decades from the late 20s to the mid-90s. Was “the” Katharine Hepburn actually a guest at the American House Hotel in Arichat in 1954? When asked her name she replied, “Katharine Hepburn.” Numerous residents confirm that the famed actress was, indeed, in Arichat at that time and recall vividly the excitement it provoked.
Henry Paint is credited with donating the canons that continue to stand guard at the entrance to Arichat Harbour. He was elected to the House of Commons as a member of the Conservative Party for Richmond County in 1882. In Parliament he was a strong supporter of Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first prime minister. An effective representative, he promoted numerous and significant infrastructure projects in his constituency such as the first marine railway, steamer service from Boston, numerous wharves and warehouses, as well as post offices and lighthouses.