Acadia, at one time included all the territories of present-day
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, the Gaspe area of Quebec and Prince Edward
Island and the eastern third of Maine. It was discovered by the early
Acadian explorers that the Saint John River formed an excellent transportation
route between southern and northern Acadia and Quebec. And so, many of
the Acadian families from Port Royal, Rivieres aux Canards, Grand Pre and
other established settlements to the south migrated north first along the
lower Saint John River and then later to Quebec via the upper Saint John
River. As shown in red on the modified map from Lawrence Burpee, the route
to northern Acadia and Quebec moved up the Madawaska River from the Saint
John River at Edmundston, New Brunswick north to Lac Témiscouata ending
with about 50 miles of portaging (shown in green) to the Kamouraska area on the Saint Lawrence River. From Grand-Pré
to Cacouna on the St-Lawrence, the total distance via those waterways is
approximately 500 miles. But while this was the established route from Acadia to
Canada, there were other routes. One such route which was about 100
miles further west up the north branch of the St-John River as shown
on the 'Burpee' map above. This was the 'St-John River to Rivière
Achiganaré Chegué to Rivière du Sud' route. The Rivière du Sud runs
through the Saint-François du Sud parish. Although not as
well-traveled, this route required about only 10 miles of portaging.
Transportation Routes to Canada"
(Click map to expand)
First Migration of the
Joseph & Théogenie Ouellet Theriault Great-Branch.
It was Joseph, son of Claude
(fifth generation; see the Jehan-to-Joseph lineage below) who was the first
generation in this Great-Branch to move from Acadia to Quebec. The reason
for the move is obvious: to distance himself from the troubles between
France and England in their on-going feud over Acadia. As we know
today, that was a move which saved he and his family from the Great Eviction
(Le Grand Derangement) which took place in 1755.
Four generations of
Theriaults (in the Jehan-to-Joseph Theriault lineage) had lived in some
degree of peace and prosperity in Acadia until Joseph's generation.
But the Treaty of Ultrecht in 1713 just a few years before Joseph was born,
was troublesome. The French had ceded the Acadian peninsula to
the English who were becoming increasingly beligerent. So,
Joseph as many others, began to plan for a future in northern Acadia, which
was still relatively stable. His first move was to move from Grand Pré, his
paternal village to Beaubassin on the Isthmus of Chignecto some time before he
married. Beaubassin was close to the border at that time between Nova Scotia and
the remaining part of Acadia which included present-day New Brunswick and the
eastern third Maine.
A young lady from Beaubassin
caught his eye and so in 1746, Joseph who was then about 26, married Marie-Agnès Cormier. Marie-Agnès was 23.
For many years from 1755 until 1759, Joseph and Agnès managed to evade the pernicious hunts of
the English to deport the Acadians during the ‘Grand Dérangement’. Eventually,
Joseph and Agnès capitulated and fled their beloved Acadia leaving their home
and property around Beaubassin (present day Amherst, NS). At the time of their
decision to move, they had been married for 13 years and had six children: two sons and four daughters. The youngest was an
infant daughter born on 6 January in 1759 just before they
This was a long and arduous trek which they
apparently undertook sometime after January of 1759 . They were
obviously forced to move at that time. Using
simple straight-line measurements, the trip covered about 700 km.
Their efforts to avoid the English surely added many more kilometers
to their journey by foot and canoe.
It was a very long
trek, mostly using waterways. First, crossing the then
Baie Française and then to Baie St-Jean... the first hundred miles.
The trek up the St-John is about a 300 mile paddle by canoe, all upstream.
Fortunately, the St-John, the so-called 'Teaching River', known for all
classes of white water, is very mild in that stretch with the exception
of a few major falls, the largest of which is Grand Falls, where the St-John
rises 74 feet. But the river is unrelenting and the currents are strong.
In that time, except
for a few Indian villages including the Madoueskak village of Malécite
Indians located at present-day Edmundston, there were no other settlements
in the Upper St-John. The Acadians and French-Canadians would not be settling
that area for another 25 years. So when Joseph and Marie-Agnès started
their final 100 miles from the upper St-John River to the Madawaska River
and headed toward Lac Témiscouata, it was all unspoiled wilderness1.
Though they had guides and surely others from Grand-Pré and Beaubassin
joining them in their voyage, there was no margin for error. Mistakes and
lapses in health were usually lethal. The environment was very unforgiving.
by Winslow Homer... This scene was repeated everytime that our ancestors
traveled up the St-John River to portage around the Grand Falls.
They arrived in the Fall of 1759 in St-François du Sud where they baptized their
daughter born in Beaubassin. They survived an existence for four years by moving
from place to place wherever work was available. They rented their home until Joseph was granted
some acreage in 1763 in the seigneurie of L’Islet-à-la-Peau in present-day
Saint-Jean-Port-Joli. By that time, his two elder sons, Jacques and Anselme were
16 and 15, respectively and were able to help him cultivate his land.
Joseph and Agnès eventually had ten children: four sons and six
daughters. Unfortunately, Joseph was hardly able to begin work on
his land when he died in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière in 1765 while
at the young age of 47. The elder sons, who were still in their late
adolescence, continued their father’s work on the land and made
their lives in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli.
Joseph and Marie-Agnès
raised a family of 11 children including Anselme, their son who was born in 1748
and Charles, their 8th child who was born 15 years later in 1763. Both sons would form the two branches
which merged again in the marriage of Joseph and Théogénie more
than a century later in 1882. Théogenie was a great-grand-daughter of
Anselme while Joseph was a great-grandson of Charles. Thus, Joseph and Théogénie
were third cousins when they married. (Marriage between first cousins was not
allowed. Some exceptions were granted between 2nd cousins. Marriage between
third cousins was acceptable.)
So with Joseph's
children, there would begin an infusion
of French-Canadian blood into the old Acadian lineage of the Joseph-Théogénie
branch as did several other branches of the Theriault family and other
Acadian families during that time.
"Joseph Terriot farm land in
The site was
dedicated in June 2010 by the Association des famille
Thériault de l'Amérique. The monument is on the Chemin de la
Côte des Chênes: (N47.228433
W70.213860). Copy these
coordinates in Google Maps (maps.google.com) to see the
At the age of 30 in
1793, Charles married a 30 year old French-Canadian woman named Anne
Blondeau. Together, they raised four children including Charles Thériault.
By this time, some Acadians had begun to migrate to the upper St-John River
area from the Caraquet area and other areas from the south. In fact, some
of the other branches of Theriault's who came from those areas, were some
of the first families to settle in St-Basile around 1785. So, as young
Charles and other children his age grew along the St-Lawrence River in
the early years of the new century, they no doubt heard stories of the
new Acadian settlements along the St-John. Villages with names like St-Basil,
St-David, Chautauqua (Ste-Luce in present-day Upper Frenchville, Maine) and others were the subject of alot of
talk among the Acadians.
Second Migration of
the Joseph & Théogenie Ouellet Theriault Great-Branch.
So repeating the cycle
that his Grandfather went through 75 years before, Charles, son of
his life companion in a French-Canadian lady named Léocadie Gagnon
and married her in 1821 in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. Without any
delay, they headed southwest going back over the trail that his grandparents
took across the 50 mile stretch of portage and canoed across Lac Témiscouata,
the east end of the Madawaska River. There they settled
and in the next year, their first son was born which they named, Dolphis
Théophile. With this, Charles had brought the Joseph-Théogénie
branch of the Theriault family to the upper Saint John River Valley (shown
as the yellow diamond on the Burpee map). Again, as mentioned before, another
branch of the Theriault had already settled in Saint Basil.
At this time, the boundary
between the United States and Canada had not yet been settled, so the Acadians
and French Canadians settled on both sides of the river. In 1842, the boundary
was finally settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty which declared the
river as the boundary at least for the upper Saint John River Valley. By
and large, this new boundary had no real effect on the settlers who continued
their lives as Acadians2
regardless of the nationality of their settled properties and villages.
It is ironic that the boundary as defined in the treaty begins with the
"monument at the source of the river St. Croix", the place of the first
Acadian settlement in the New World in 1604, two hundred and thirty-eight
A look at the vital
statistics for all 9 generations shows a migration at the 5th and 7th generations.
The migrating generation is shown with a green background. Here's how
| Genealogy and
Migration of the
Joseph and Théogenie Ouellet Thériault Great-Branch
was born around 1601 and died sometime between 1671 and 1678. He migrated from
Martaize, France to Le Have, Acadia around 1632 then to Port Royal around 1635
until he died sometime between 1671 and 1678.
spent his entire life in Port Royal from around 1637 until he died in 1725 at
the age of 88.
was born in Port Royal around 1662, married and settled in Rivieres aux Canards,
before 1686. He moved to Grand Pre where he died after 1730 at the age of 68.
was born in Grand Pre around 1687 and spent his entire life in Grand Pre where
he died in 1730 at the early age of 43. Around 1710, he married in Rivieres
aux Canards in Acadia and may have lived there for some time. With this
generation, the Acadians had begun their migration east and north of Grand
Pre. Claude's youngest son Joseph, was born in Grand-Pré
in 1718. Both his older
sister before him and a younger brother after him were recorded as born
was born around 1719 in Grand-Pré and some time later, moved to
Beaubassin, the second village to be established in Acadia after Port Royal.
After marrying Marie-Agnès Cormier in 1745 in Beaubassin, he finally decided in
1759 to migrate
to northern Acadia to raise his family. He and Marie Agnès spent
the rest of their lives in Sainte Anne de la Pocatiere. In 1763, Joseph
died at the young age of 44, some 35 years ahead of his wife.
born in St-Roch-des-Aulnies around the time that his father died in 1763. He
spent his entire life on the St Lawrence. We know that Charles
married in Riviere Ouelles in 1793 and raised four children including a son,
Charles who later migrated to the Madawaska territory. Charles and his wife,
Anne Blondeau joined their son for a brief period in the Madawaska territory but
returned. Later, their son Charles, brought them to his new home where Charles
and Ann lived out the rest of their years on the Madawaska River. The
migration to the St-John Valley of the Madawaska territory had begun.
born in Kamouraska, Quebec in 1796. He
married in Sainte Anne de la Pocatiere in 1821 and moved to present-day
New Brunswick on the Madawaska River where his two children were born and where
his wife died. Charles died on 2 April 1880 in St-Jacques. He was living with
his second son, Prudent.
was born in Saint Jacques in 1823 where he remained until he died in Saint
Jacques in 1887 at the age of 65.
was born in Saint-Jacques, New Brunswick in 1858 where he remained until
sometime 1907 when he moved his family to Baker-Brook in the parish of
His last child and daughter, Almida was born in 1908 in Baker-Brook. He
died in 1915 at the age of 57 and was buried in Saint Hilaire, a small
village along the Saint John River.
1. The 'St-John River to Madawaska
River to Timisquata Lake' route is one possible route taken by
Joseph, a route which was no doubt heavily traveled during this
period. According to Jean-Daniel Thériault in his book "Une Famille
Acadienne à Saint-Jean-Port-Joli: Joseph Thériault et Agnès
Cormier", there is another possible route that was documented to
exist in 1685: the 'St-John River to Rivière Achiganaré Chegué to
Rivière du Sud' route where the Rivière du Sud runs through the
Saint-François du Sud parish where Joseph arrived with his family
and where their infant daughter was baptized on 1 November in 1759.
He might have chosen this more difficult and less traveled route to
avoid capture by the English who under Wolf's command at that very time
were actively pursuing the Acadians while plundering and burning the
French-Canadian settlements in Lower Canada.
2. Many of the inhabitants of the upper Saint John Valley still to this day consider
themselves Acadian instead of French Canadian, largely because of the origins
of most of their ancestors from Acadia. In fact, to many, the Acadian distinction
is perhaps even more important than the American-Canadian distinction.