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95. THE ACADIANS AT HORSE-SHOE COVE PRIOR TO THE EXPULSION

Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, October 23, 1990


Thomas G. Haliburton, author of “An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia” (1829) in two volumes, published in 1847 in the “Frazer’s Magazine for town and Country” of London, and again in 1849 in his “The Old Judge: Or, Life in a Colony, N.S.,” the discovery, made about 1763 of what could have been an Acadian trading post on the left bank of the La Have River, Lunenburg county, at a place called Horse-Shoe Cove; this name was given to this small harbour on account of its striking resemblance to a horseshoe. It is said to be between Bridgewater and Dayspring, the Summerside of Yesteryears. At the time of the discovery, it was concealed by two wooded promontories.


We owe this discovery to a German settler by the name of Nicolas Spohr, who was looking for a place to establish himself. He found here a clearing of forty acres of land, extending to the shore, having a long, low-roofed wooden dwelling house, at the other end of which was an annex of considerable length; the main part of the house was perpendicular to it, giving to the whole building the aspect of a “T”. To the right, there was a large wooden warehouse, and on the left a block-house built with squared rafters superposed up to a certain height, with loopholes here and there which were openings for muskets.


In the interior, at the center, there was a pivoted gun which could be directed at will towards four openings made in each wall, that could be closed with shutters. There was no ceiling, but just wooden beams to which was attached a good size bell big enough to be heard on the opposite side of the river.


Behind the building there was a square field, slanting towards the woods, surrounded by huge willows, in the center of which were old apple trees which had been planted so closely together that their branches intertwined. It was evident that this enclosure, which served as a garden, had been disposed with taste and that it had been well taken care of. The paths through the garden were still perceptible.


Near the entrance of the garden, there was an arbor covered by a vine which had recert [sic for reverted?] to the wild state. It was so thick that it shielded completely the rays of the sun. It was an ideal place to rest in the shade. This place had been chosen on account of a spring of clear and pure water bubbling out to form a stream flowing down towards the river.


A bulky and rustic table with benches of the same caliber revealed obviously the purpose of this dainty, secluded and peaceful hideout. On the table were carved many initials and a few names. These full names were Charles Etienne de LaTour and Francois d’Entremont, which were carved a few times. In one of the corners of the table were carved deeply and with skill two clasped hands, under which were the words Pierre and Madeleine, with the date “1740.” Then there were these words from the Latin poet Ovide: “Scribere jussit amor” (love inclines to write.)


What are we to make out of all this? Some details could be of Haliburton himself. For example, with regard to these Latin words, it is very doubtful that the Acadians knew the language, while Haliburton was well versed in Latin. He says that he heard at Horse-Shoe Cove at least some of the things that he is telling us. Mather B. DesBrisay, in his “History of the County of Lunenburg” (1895) says that it is impossible to say whether the tale is a fiction or not. Will R. Bird, who published the story in the 1943 New Year edition of “The Halifax Chronicle,” says that, for his part, “the main facts that are related are considered to be most authentic. Judge Haliburton saw it fit to include them in his story of Nova Scotia’s incidents.”


Be what it may, we are sure that the name of Charles Etienne LaTour carved on the table, stood for Charles de St. Etienne de La Tour, Governor for a time in Acadia. By Francois d’Entremont was meant surely Philippe Mius d’Entremont, as there has been on one by the name of François in the d’Entremont family before the Expulsion; it is natural that Charles de La Tour and Philippe Mius d’Entremont would stand side by side, because two of the children of the one married two of the children of the other.


Without going into any details, I think that the name Pierre here is put for Pierre Landry (son of René Landry and of Perrine Bourg) and Madeleine for his wife Madeleine Robichaud (daughter of Etienne Robichaud and of Francoise Boudrot.) The inscriptions could be from their grandchildren. Thus, the inscription Pierre and Madeleine could have been put for their grandparents; and the inscriptions Charles Étienne LaTour and François (sic, for Philippe) d’Entremont could have been put for their great-grandparents.

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