#35- THE LOG CABINS OF WEST PUBNICO
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, August 29, 1989.
The Acadians who came back to West Pubnico, after their exile of some ten years in Massachusetts, lived for a number of years in log cabins which they set up the best they could. We know of eight or nine which were built between 1767 and 1800.
Thanks to tradition, we have an idea, faint as it may be, of what these log cabins looked like. They were rather small, consisting of one room, without a loft, the floor of this single room being the entire living and sleeping space. The floor was of dirt pounded hard by the feet of the members of the family. The bunks, often double-decked, occupied the four corners of the room. As glass was not available, at least for a number of years, the windows consisted simply of a couple of square openings in the walls to let in the light of day, but without window panes; a skin of some sort was provided to close the openings at will. Before cement came into use, there were no fire-places, nor chimneys; at the center of the room was laid flat stones on which the fire was lit for cooking or to heat the room; there was an opening in the roof to let out the smoke. For want of comfort, these rugged people, who had lived in worse conditions while in exile, were very satisfied with this way of life, even though it was not the healthiest. Nevertheless, many of them reached a ripe old age.
In the spring of 1767, arrived in West Pubnico the three brothers, Joseph, Paul and Benoni d'Entremont, with their mother and their sister Marguerite. That is when Joseph, with the help of his brothers, set up the first log cabin in West Pubnico. It was erected where now stands the West Pubnico Consolidated School. It became the property of his youngest son, Joseph Elie, who built here a house made of boards, sometime after 1812, the year he got married. Before the school was built in 1960-61, one could still see here the remains of the site where stood Joseph Elie's house, which even might have been that of his father's log cabin.
Abel Duon, the ancestor of the d'Eons of Pubnico, who had married a sister of Joseph, Paul and Benoni, came back from exile with them and settled first in Amirault's Hill. But early in 1769, he came to West Pubnico to be near his wife's family. It is then that he built his own log cabin, abut 200 meters north of Joseph d'Entremont's. It became the property of his son Paul, who got married in 1800, in which, it seems, all his children were born. It is not known when it was demolished. Paul bequeathed the property to his son Gabriel. Gabriel then built a house just a short distance north of the site of the log cabin, although he got married in 1859 only.
Paul d'Entremont, brother to Joseph and Benoni, got married in 1769, when he erected the next log cabin. It stood abut halfway between his brother Joseph's log cabin and that of his brother-in-law, Abel Duon. It was occupied afterwards by his son Jacques, who had gotten married around 1797, when his father, it would seem, had moved to Round Bay, Shelburne Co., on the property that he had bought from Benjamin Kirke; it would seem that, like his brother Benoni, he wanted to get as close as possible to the place of his birth, which was Barrington. Jacques brought up all his children in this log cabin. After the children had gotten married, their mother, née Angelique Bourque, stayed in the log cabin all by herself. Her children wanted her to leave and to come to live with them, but she did not want to move. So, one day, which she was away, they set the cabin on fire. This must have happened around 1835. Not long ago, the remains of its foundation could still be seen east of the house which was built a century and a quarter after by Rufus d'Entremont.
The next log cabin was built around 1791 by Joseph Amirault, son of Ange, both having returned from exile with the d'Entremonts. It was located about 200 meters south of Joseph d'Entremont's log cabin. No doubt it was demolished when his youngest son got married in January of 1832.
Cyrille d'Entremont, son of Joseph, built the next log cabin around 1793, the year he got married. It stood halfway between his father's log cabin and Joseph Amirault's. It was demolished when his son Anselme built on these premises his own house made of boards, probably in 1833, the year he was married.
It is to be noted that these five log cabins, all at about the same distance from the shore, were linked together by a path, which was quite straight, passing west of them. It can be considered as the first "road" that was "built" in West Pubnico.
With the building of the next log cabin, which was to be the sixth, its location was to change; that is, it was built at some distance from the shore. Tradition tells us that some sea birds, especially geese, were making so much noise that the people were very annoyed by their "racket", to use the word brought down by tradition, especially early in the morning, before they would get up. That is why Augustin Duon, son of Abel, who was to build the next log cabin, chose to do so at some distance from the shore. It was built across the road from the d'Eon Bakery. Note that this is why the road in front of the Royal Canadian Legion Hall, instead of keeping on south in a straight line, starts to turn here towards the right. As Augustin Duon got married around 1796, we can presume that he built his log cabin at about that time. It became the property of his youngest son, Philippe, who, it is said, lived in that log cabin even after he got married in 1845, although he built his own house, made of boards, before 1850. The location of Augustin Duon's log cabin is still marked by shrubs.
Charles-Célestin d'Entremont, son of Joseph, was also to build his log cabin some distance from the shore. It was erected at the entrance of the driveway that Inspector Louis A. d'Entremont built to get to his garage, now owned by Mr. Pierre d'Entremont. Charles-Célestin d'Entremont got married in 1797. It is in this log cabin that his 12 children were born, the last one in 1825. It is not known when it was demolished; this last child got married in 1854 only, when he had already built his own home.
There is a tradition that states that Paul d'Entremont, brother of Joseph and of Benoni, who built in West Pubnico the third log cabin, would have built another one on the hill, at Lower West Pubnico, south of the marsh known in West Pubnico since always as "Le Marais". If so, it could have been after living for a short while at Round Bay, if ever he did, his first log cabin being already occupied by his son Jacques. And if so, this log cabin at the marsh would have been but a temporary dwelling, as his son Hilaire built here in the early 1800's his own house made of boards.
What is certain is that Paul d'Entremont erected a log cabin in 1800 on the land granted him years before, on which was to be built the firsts church in West Pubnico. In 1799, the first house built of boards in West Pubnico was for Paul and his brother Benoni. There was an agreement between the two that one could buy the share of the other if he had the money; the other would have to let go his share. Well, it was not long after it was built that Benoni bought out Paul, who then built his second or third log cabin at the location just mentioned. He transferred his property to his son Joseph Levis, who adopted Charles Amand Morris. Charles Amand Morris would have lived some time in this log cabin, until the first rectory, adjoining the first church, was replaced by a second one, probably in the late 1840's, when the first rectory became Morris' house.
And that is the story of the eight or nine log cabins which were erected in West Pubnico in the space of 34 years.
This sketch appeared also in the last issue of The Argus, the quarterly newsletter of the Argyle Municipality Historical & Genealogical Society.