Ephrem Boudreau wrote Riviere Bourgeois from which this history is taken and translated.
The priests of River Bourgeois.
Michael MacKenzie (1846-?) served from August 25,1888 to November 14, 1891. Fr. MacKenzie was born at Red Islands (today Johnstown) some 20 miles east of River Bourgeois on the Bras d’Or Lake. He was ordained at Quebec on May 28, 1876. Before his arrival at River Bourgeois, he was the priest, for 12 years, at Christmas Island (Cape Breton) from 1876 to 1888. Assigned to River Bourgeois in 1888, he was there for three years until November 1891.
Donald J. Cameron (1863-1893) was priest from November 15, 1891 to April 3, 1893. The only information to be found on this priest was the inscription on his gravestone found in the River Bourgeois cemetery and like his predecessor, Fr. Martel, he lived with Mr. Joseph Deslauriers. The following is the inscription:
“Rev. D.J. Cameron
17 Dec. 1863-1893
Ordained 18 Oct. 1891
Died 3 April 1893
Consummatus in brevi
Explevit tempora multa”
This priest must not be confused with another who bore the same name, Donald Cameron, born at South River near Antigonish and the nephew of the third Bishop of Arichat, Monsignor John Cameron.
Fr. Hugh B. MacPherson (1867-1948) was born in 1867 and ordained in 1892. He was named vicar at L’Ardoise, a position which he occupied until May 1893. During this time, he occasionally ministered to River Bourgeois. He became rector of St. Francis Xavier University. When Bishop Cameron died in 1910, Fr. MacPherson acted as administrator for the diocese for two-and-one-half years until a new bishop, Monsignor Morrison, was appointed on May 25, 1912. On three occasions, Fr. MacPherson was named to Royal Commissions by the government of Nova Scotia. He died on December 27,1949.
Amable-Évariste Mombourquette (1863-1949) was in River Bourgeois from May 1893 until November 2, 1895. Fr. Mombourquette spent only a couple of years as curate in River Bourgeois. It was as a priest in Arichat that he left his mark, spending 39 years there.
Born in L’Ardoise on October 18, 1863, son of Georges Mombourquette and Angèle Samson, he did his studies at St. Joseph College, Memramcook, and advanced studies in philosophy and theology in Montreal schools. He was ordained in Antigonish by Bishop Cameron on October 20, 1889. He was the eighth Acadian priest from the diocese to be ordained. First, he was priest at West Arichat in 1889 and then at Port Felix from 1890 to 1893. He was named curate at River Bourgeois in May 1893 where he remained until November 1895.
Fr. Mombourquette was a great patriot. An affable man, profoundly religious, he worked all his life to better the material and spiritual lives of his people. He was one of those, along with Dr. Edmond Aucoin of Cheticamp, and Fr. Pierre Robitaille of River Bourgeois, who worked to place young Acadians from Cape Breton in the colleges of Quebec, even the poorest whose parents had no means to pay for their studies at college. For many years, he organized, each summer, a pilgrimage to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. A special train would depart from Sydney to transport the pilgrims to this reputed holy place near Quebec City.
After his placement at River Bourgeois, he spent some time at Margaree East before settling permanently at Arichat in 1907. He was in charge of this parish for nearly 39 years. During his retirement, he lived in the parish presbytery until his death which occurred on July 22, 1949.