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Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, April 24, 1990

Edward How, born probably in New England around 1702, came to Nova Scotia as a merchant and settled in Canso. Shortly after his arrival, he became a member of the Council of Nova Scotia, when he moved to Annapolis. He was successively named Captain of the Militia and High Sheriff.

As commissary of the forces, he had long and continued intercourses with the Acadian. He spoke French fluently. Edward Richard (1844-1904), who was for a number of years chief archivist in Ottawa, author of “Acadia, missing links of a lost chapter” in two volumes, wrote: “Edward How is one of my ancestors”, his great-grandfather being Jean Doucet. This Jean Doucet, born in 1750, “by a misfortune and a crime of which Marguerite Prejean, his mother was not responsible, was the son of Edward How”. Marguerite Prejean, who was from Tantramar (see sketch No. 61) was then married to Charles Doucet, that is why her son Jean took the name of Doucet. He married in Three Rivers, Québec, Marie-Anne Madeleine Amirault, daughter of François Amirault the Third, first cousin to our Amiraults who settled in south-western Nova Scotia on their return from exile. Their son, the Abbe Andre Doucet, was pastor of Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau from 1819 to 1824.

Edward How, in line with his duties, entered many times into negotiations with the Micmacs, whose language he somewhat knew. It was not always in amicable terms. At times, he seemed to deal with them on the sly. He would turn into ridicule their ways of doing, especially their religious belief, aiming at the same time at their priests.

Father Maillard, missionnary [sic] for the Indians, who was to be the last Catholic priest in Nova Scotia at the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians, tells us that “Captain How, a very witty and even well read man, but extremely full of prejudices against the Catholic Church”, came one day in 1740 to Port Toulouse, now Saint Peters, Cape Breton, where many Indians had gathered, ready to go to Mass. By curiosity, he followed them. After Mass, he told Barthelemy Petitpas, an Acadian, that he wanted the Indians to tell him what was the Mass all about, asking Petitpas, who was well versed in the Micmac language, to be his interpreter. The Indian who had presided at the prayers of the Mass, by the name of François Nugintok, came forward and started to explain every part of the Mass, giving in minute details the meaning of each prayer.

After a while, when he noticed that his interlocutor was taking a derisive attitude, he looked straight into his eyes and said: “The more that I look at you, since you have spoken in English, and the more you remind me of an Englishman whom I saw about three years ago at Petit de Gras, at Mrs. Saint- Martin’s house, who accosted us Indians with these words: ‘How do you do, Misters Micmacs, servant of Mary. Oh, what a grand Lady for you in the sight of God! Without her, could you ever navigate safely in your canoes, especially when you are dead drunk, that which happens to you often? You are smart to have chosen Mary for your protectress: the good Lady loved wine so much that she could not do without it, so much so that one day she urged her son to make a miracle even against his will, so that she would not be without it”. François Nugintok added that they were so insulted that they would have killed that Englishman on the spot if they had not been stopped from doing by their Patriarch (the priest).

Barthelemy Petitpas, seeing that the situation was getting out of hand, especially when other Indians started to shout, “he is the one” asked secretly one of the bystanders to tell How that his Commander wanted to see him right away.

From that time on, How kept away from the Indians as much as he could. He knew that they would kill him if ever they would be able to take hold of him.

Having the memory of the elephant, whose unmerciful feelings time could not mitigate, it took them fourteen years to do so. It was in 1751 when How had come to the Fort of Beaubassin, now Chignecto, close to Amherst, that I told you about in sketch No. 61. The Indians learned about it. Guided by “Etienne le batard” (Stephen the bastard) who had donned a soldier’s uniform, a perfumed wig and a sword, they advanced with a white flag towards a brook which was about eight hundred paces from the fort, located on the other side, on English territory. They had just gotten there, when a group of english officers and soldiers came out of the fort with a red flag. The Indians did not have any trouble in detecting Edward How among the group. As soon as he had gotten close enough to the brook, our disguised soldier fired on him, wounding him mortally in the kidneys. The other Indians fired then a volley which wounded other officers or soldiers. The Indians would have wanted to take hold of the body, but the soldiers in their flight dragged it into the fort.

Father Maillard concludes his account by saying that the Indians have been severely blamed, not only by the English, but also by the French, for the way that they had avenged themselves on Edward How.

NOTE: Some time ago, I was stunned by a letter received from one of the readers of these articles, stating, and I quote verbatim: “The Vanguard articles are not pure history, facts”. I cannot figure how this idea could have originated. In case that there might be other readers who are under the same impression, I want to emphasize that there has never been in any of these articles nor in any of the hundreds of others that I have published on historical matters that I cannot vouch for even down to their minute details from materials that I have in my library, the largest on Acadian matters in Nova Scotia, said to have been surpassed only by the library of the University of Moncton.


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