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.
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Capt. Dominique Gerroir was the owner of the Appoline, a 230-ton brigantine. The painting of “Our Lady of Assumption” behind the altar in the Notre Dame de l’Assomption church was brought from Italy to Arichat by Capt. Gerroir.
His tombstone was rediscovered by his great-great grandson Leo Girroir and Daniel Boudreau while working in the cemetery on a summer project.
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George Ross was born in Marble Mountain in 1922 the third of 13 children to Colin A. and Hughena (Oliver) Ross. In 1927 the family moved to West Bay Road.
When only 20, George Ross defeated his first opponent in a three-round decision at the Merchant Seaman’s Club in Sydney in 1942. The turning point in his career came three years later at the 1945 Golden Gloves Tournament where he emerged as the Welter Weight champion.
In 1952 Ross claimed the Light Heavyweight crown by defeating Eddie Zastre.
“Rock-A-Bye” Ross compiled an impressive record over a career of 11 years. In all, he had 52 matches winning 31 by decision, 14 by knockout. He lost only six times. As a middleweight, he won 36 consecutive fights.
He died in April 1997.
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Clement Hubert was a French Huguenot. As a child in the mid 1700s, his mother had taken him to Admiral Nelson to make a seaman of him.
During the French Revolution (1789) he returned to France, was captured, and sentenced to death. He was able to make his escape and won recognition by helping escapees across the English Channel.
He was an extremely accomplished man; he owned and operated his own fish business, he was a master mariner, an officer in the British Navy, and an army captain in the British Militia.
As a prominent Arichat businessman he demonstrated his daring and courage here as well because, as the story goes, he set off alone on his ship bound for Halifax. Provisions in the community had run low, but due to vicious winter conditions, no one would make the voyage with him. Not only did he succeed in reaching his destination, but he also provisioned his ship and made the return journey without mishap.
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In the 1860s, the parish of West Arichat was in turmoil. There were those who supported the pastor, Father Hubert Girroir, in his desire to build a school to educate the youth of the parish.
An equally passionate group demanded the construction of a church be the first priority. Father Louis Romauld Fournier was drawn into the midst of this conflict when he replaced Fr. Girroir as parish priest.
So aroused were the followers of Fr. Girroir that they refused to allow the new pastor into his new quarters. Exasperation fueled Fr. Fournier as he took to the pulpit in October of 1867. He vowed that he would gladly give his life in one month if the rift in the parish could be healed.
Within a few days he took sick and exactly 30 days after his appeal for peace, he died. The dispute was resolved. The incident was declared a miracle.