Wednesday, 9 September 2009

OUR CMA 2009 JOURNAL... New Connections

Getting on the road for a trip to a new destination is always exciting. Although Rosemary and I have been up to the northwestern and southern parts of New Brunswick, we had never seen Caraquet nor Bathurst in the northeast coastal area. So, this was a new experience.

Tuesday, 11 August: Arrival to Bathurst. Our original travel plan was to leave the Boston area and travel to Bangor, Maine and then turn east toward St-John and Moncton. But looking at Mapquest and our navigator, both indicated that the shortest route is to go up to the Madawaska region in St-Leonard, NB on the St-John River which is all four-lane highway and then turn east through St-Quentin and then on to Bathurst; which is what we did. It turned out to be an 9-hour drive so we made good time. We had reservations at the Lakeview Inn in Bathurst which we made a year ago. We pulled in around 9PM local time. I always forget that the Maritime provinces are one hour ahead of us. The staff was exceedingly helpful and friendly and the rooms were comfortable. The signs welcoming us to the 'Congrès Mondial Acadien' made it clear that we found the right place.

Wednesday, 12 August:  First Explorations. The next morning, Rosemary went down for breakfast where she met some members of the group, Marsha Collins-Vaughn, her husband Mike and her mother Lemora Maxine Theriault Collins. They call her 'Mickey'. I had some e-mail and other preparations to work on so I thought I would skip breakfast and get some work done. Sometime after Rosemary returned from breakfast, there was a knock on the door. It was Marsha dropping in to say 'hello'. Well, I met her for the first time, still unshaven and not yet ready to meet the world but we had a grand visit. After chatting with Marsha for 15 minutes, she felt like an old friend. We talked about our plans to visit the Acadian Historical Village in Paquetville and finalized our arrangements for the tour. In the meantime, John Mark in an e-mail said that he would be joining us, which was great. Our rendez-vous was 2PM.

The 45-minute drive east from Bathurst to the Acadian Historical Village in Grande Anse was very pleasant. It was fairly easy to find our way because there really aren't that many roads. The country-side was very pretty and it looked like everyone had just repainted their homes for the CMA. The colors of the houses and other buildings were bright and colorful, the lawns were all manicured and Acadian flags were flying everywhere. As we pulled into the Acadian Historic Village, we were surprised by its size. The parking lot was huge! So, we posted ourselves in the reception building so that we would be sure to see the others as they arrived.

Soon, our 'new Acadian', John Mark arrived. The last time we had seen him was in Manhattan during our springtime visit  in 2006. While getting updated with him, the Californians arrived. Marsha with her husband, Mike and her mother, 'Mickey'. In no time, we had a plan for the afternoon at the Acadian Historic Village. The mandatory items on our visit included of course the Theriault house and shopping at the gift shop, supposedly one of the best in the area. It was a beautiful day, not too warm and the crowd was not too large. Mickey, decided to go the easy way and hitched a ride with a horse-drawn wagon. She later admitted that the ride was a bit bumpy and thought that she might have been better to walk. (Above: Mickey leaving us for a bumpy ride to the Theriault house. Click on photos to enlarge.) But it was fun nevertheless. We forget that the horse-drawn vehicles were in the days before shock absorbers.

We found the docents in each of the historic houses very informative and helpful. The one in the water-driven mill was expecially informative and gave us a detailed explanation and demonstration on how flour was milled. Very ingenious. It's basically alot of grinding, shaking and sifting. An old iron turbine was outside the mill and was a good example of some of the first turbines that were used during the early days of the Industrialization period. Grandpère Joachim Thériault's mill in Baker Brook was very similar but I never understood how the flour mill worked. I just remember enjoying the very rhythmic sound of the flour mill that provided the percussion for Grandpère as he sang some of his old tunes.

After walking around the village for a few hours, I felt myself slowing down in pace and just enjoying the wild flowers that we passed on our walk, the old paths through the woods and of course those beautiful old buildings and the people that worked there dressed up in their 18th and 19th century garb. There were some spectacular water views of the pond in the center of the village. Many sights and sounds took me back home to the Madawaska region on the St-John River where in my childhood the old mills were still there and the original homes that were built about 100 years before, were still there. The sun was warming the buildings and grounds, so the fragrances and the sights looked and smelled the same as those old places in the St-John valley. In the 40's on those very fertile St-John River farms, we were still seeing farmers (though on rare occasion) use oxen to plow their fields and draw wagons. This certainly was a visit back in time.

Most enjoyable of course was the Theriault house, one of the better finished in the village I would say. With a wrap-around porch, the home which had been expanded over its life-time was quite roomy. It was odd seeing walls made of simple pine planks. The last time I saw that was in my own house on the St-John River. Some of us took a break and relaxed on the porch watching other visitors walk by. (Here we are, the touring group. The photo was taken by some very friendly and generous visitors who happened to walk by. L-R: Rosemary and Joe Theriault, Marsha and Mike, 'Mickey' and John Mark.)

Some wonderful friendships or 'connections' were forged that afternoon. Although we had worked together countless hours to consolidate our respective genealogies some years ago and had kept in touch via e-mail, the personal time together was precious and much fun. We enjoyed each others company and made plans for dinner together later in the week.

Thursday, 13 August: Day One of the Terriot Reunion. The day would be the first of two days of the Terriot Reunion in Paquetville. Paquetville is one of three villages involved in the Terriot Reunion, the others wer  Bertrand and Grande Anse. The activities today will all be focused in Paquetville while those tomorrow will be in Bertrand. The social events Friday evening and Saturday will take place in Grande Anse.

Paquetville is a very pretty village with all homes and buildings well maintained and freshly painted. The village is about 15km inland which gives it the feel of an agricultural town. The main highway going through Paquetville jogs through the center where the St-Augustin Catholic Church is spectacularly positioned on one of those intersections to face and welcome the incoming visitors. Everyone was in a festive mood. The Louisiana Theriots were glad to be there and were very glad to meet everyone. Rosemary and I checked in with the Registration ladies where I was asked to join a meeting in-progress with some of the members of the other Terriot associations. (Below, 'Mickey' takes a break on the porch of the Thériault house at the Acadian Historic Village. Click on photo to enlarge.)

The meeting was the result of an initiative by Denis Thériault, President of the Association des Thériault de l'Amérique, the organization from the Province of Québec. The goal of the meeting was to see if there was any interest among the Terriot organizations to collaborate on certain projects of common interest. Also in attendance were Guy Thériault from the Québec organization, Murielle Thériault from the Québec organization and also one of our delegates, Fidèle Thériault and Onil Thériault from New Brunswick, Gérard Thériault and Lawrence Thériault from Nova Scotia and both also delegates in our organization, Karen Theriot Reader, John Mark Hopkins and myself, all from our organization. The meeting was successful. It was good to know that there was a genuine interest in working with each other to perhaps accomplish something that might not be possible to accomplish by any of the individual organizations. We organized a short list of possible projects or areas of cooperation and resolved to meet again in the fall in a virtual meeting. Our first collaborative effort would be to research, find and select a virtual meeting system that we could afford. I offered to help with the research and testing.

After the meeting, we joined others for a great lunch of crêpes at the Crêpe Bretonne restaurant in Paquetville. The place was packed with Terriots from the four corners of the continent. Next to our table were some folks from Louisiana who we met and chatted with for a while. Service was slow because of the crowd but we didn't mind. Everyone was having fun. In fact, it occurred to us that we had been waiting for close to an hour and had not yet ordered. We got the attention of the head waitress who was embarrassed to admit that they had forgotten about us and that the kitchen was in fact closing. "But", she said " I will cook your lunch for you my self. No problem." And it was a very tasty lunch indeed.

In the afternoon, many of us attended the book launching of Monsieur Fidèle Thériault's new book "Les Thériault". As explained in his abstract, the new book focuses on the Thériault family established in Caraquet, that of the pioneer Joseph Thériault, husband of Marie-Joseph Girouard, and their descendants. (It should be noted that Fidèle corrected our records regarding Joseph's name;  it is simply 'Joseph', not 'Joseph Jean' as was reflected in our Archive.  Fidèle was kind enough to provide primary source records for the correction and our Archive was corrected.) Born in Grand Pré (Acadie) in 1723, Joseph and his family came to know banishment and persecution led by British authorities during the Great Expulsion of 1755 and the years which followed. He avoided deportation by first taking refuge in the lower Saint-John River area, then in the parishes of Bas-St-Laurent (Trois-Pistoles, Cap-St-Ignace and Sainte-Anne-de-La Pocatière) from 1759 until 1767. He then joined a group of Acadian families and came back to settle in the lower St-John River area near the ancient village of Saint-Ann (Fredericton). The peace of the Acadian families was once again shattered with the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783 from the American colonies.  Joseph decided then to emigrate to Caraquet. With the families of his sons, those of Jean Baptist Godin and of Pierre Pinet, he founded the village of Bertrand (N.-B).

The launching was well attended and it was good to finally meet Fidèle in person. Of course, we had been working with him for many years in resolving genealogy issues regarding the Thériaults of Caraquet; the best example of such collaboration was for John Mark Hopkins' case.

We wrapped up the day with a very nice dinner at Danny's Inn in Bathurst. 

Friday, 14 August: Day Two of the Terriot Reunion. It was another glorious day in northeast New Brunswick. The day started with the official opening ceremonies in Bertrand. The major activity of the day were the conferences which started at 11:00 immediately after the opening ceremonies, and continued until 16:00. Monsieur Fidèle Thériault started the series with his conference on "Les Familles Thériault", followed by Paul Thériault's conference on "L'Origine des Thériault des Baie Ste-Anne". At around 14:40 hours, I convened the bilingual conference on the "Origins of the Theriaults of the Northwest (New Brunswick)" which was followed by the final conference of the day by Denis Thériault for l'Association des Thériault d'Amerique, Inc. All conferences were well attended and judging by everyone's participation, it seemed that the conferences were enjoyed by all.

Earlier, a few of us had made plans to join John Mark and Marsha and their families for dinner. John Mark had graciously volunteered to make arrangements at a small restaurant in Caraquet called 'Café Phare'. Although the weather had turned very warm and humid, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner inside the restaurant and later moved outside on the porch, to wrap up with a marvelous dessert. Dinner was alot of fun and the makings of some great connections that will last a lifetime. We must do that again, guys... perhaps next time in northern California somewhere.

Saturday, 15 August: Terriot Acadian Family Conference and Celebrating the Tintamarre.  We knew from the time more than a year before that having our conference on this day would create a great conflict with the Tintamarre celebration. But we had not been able to find any other acceptable alternatives. So, we convened our 2nd Conference at the Lakeview Inn at 10:00 with 12 delegates in many cases, accompanied with members of their families. We had a full program with presentations by John Mark Hopkins, Karen Theriot Reader and Murielle Thériault as shown in our Conference program.