On November 29, 1927, two fishermen drowned 15 miles off Isle Madame. One was Neddie Deroche of Barrachois, the other was William Bowen of Rocky Bay.
Running before a gale, the two men were making their way home when the engine of their motorboat failed. Neddie Deroche was washed overboard to his death when, overwhelmed by the rough seas, the small craft filled with water. In desperation, William Bowen lashed himself to the vessel.
That morning, another boat, manned by Walter Landry, J. Boudreau, and Amedee Boudreau of Petit de Grat, had set sail for the same fishing area. Landry and the Boudreaus turned their larger craft once more into the teeth of the gale and fought their way back. By the time they reached the other vessel, it had been swamped, with Bowen lashed to it and Deroche was gone.
Inching their way closer in the turbulent sea, the Landry boat was tossed into the other boat causing fatal damage to both. The Petit de Grat sailors barely made it into their dory before their boat went down. They rowed feverishly back to Bowen, but his boat too had foundered taking him with it.
The survivors made it home to Petit de Grat, but due to the storm and the difficulty of communication, details of the disaster were not learned until the following day. Two more were added to the long list of men of Isle Madame lost at sea.
During World War II, Marshall Bourinot of Arichat was a fully accredited member of the Ground Observer Corps of the Royal Canadian Air Force Defense Command. His duty was to report by telephone to the Aircraft Detection Corps at Truro all air traffic in his designated area.
On one occasion during the war on a stormy winter day, Mr. Bourinot observed a plane circling in the vicinity. He tracked the plane to Petit de Grat where it had put down on the baseball field. The pilot identified himself as an officer in the Royal Air Force connected to a British naval ship and requested access to maps so as to determine his location and plot a new course.
He was accompanied to the school in Petit de Grat as the only place where maps might be found. The principal, George Etienne, cooperated in every way, and the pilot was returned to the ball field from whence he and his crew took off for Sydney.
Ironically, one of these very airmen, while attending a dance in Halifax, made the acquaintance of young lady. Upon learning that she was from Petit de Grat, he recounted how he and his crew had made an emergency landing there during a snow storm and how the residents had been so kind and courteous.
The first recorded killer gale in this area was that of August 1725. A French ship went down with 316 persons off the northeastern corner of Cape Breton. While trying to make the mouth of Louisbourg harbour, Le Chameau was swept upon the hard rocky shore. After a search, extending over a number of years, Alex Storm, a local diver and entrepreneur, located, in 1966, what was left of Le Chameau. Money cases were hauled to the surface, opened, and therein lay a fortune in silver and gold pieces.