His real name was Pierre Avite Amirault, but everyone called him Pierre à Georges for the simple reason that he was Georges Amirault’s son and in direct descent of Ange Amirault. The original Amirault, Fançois Amirault, ancestor of all the Amiraults in North America, had left France around the middle of the 17th Century to come to Acadia. Pierre had two brothers, Charles Amand and Joseph, who both lived across the road from him in Middle West Pubnico. Toussaint, Volusien and Jacques were his cousins.
As a young man, Pierre moved to the United States to go fishing in Gloucester where he met and married Madeleine Samson, who was originally from Ardoise, Cape Breton. A little later they settled in Pubnico where they passed the remainder of their days. For lodging, Pierre had the old school towed from its location, the same lot upon which “the Pound” would be placed a few years later. This “pound” was an enclosure in which the villageers locked up animals left to wander unsupervised. The site of the Pound was very close to the present museum. This old school had been the first to be built in the northern part of Pubnico (there was another one in the south). According to Father Clarence d’Entremont the latter was used until the year 1877.
Realizing that they were never going to have children, Mr. and Mrs. Amirault took Éloi d’Eon as their heir: son of Anselme d’Eon whose wife was Nellie Surette, Henri Surette’s daughter. For some time, Éloi and his family had lived in the United States. Their daughter Lena, Mrs. Alfred B. d’Entremont, said that she was a small girl when they left the United States to return to Canada.
In Pubnico, Pierre continued to make a living from the sea in one way or another. He was the owner of a few small sailboats. The first one was called “Hattie Emeline” a small boat of approximately ten tonnes. He had another one that measured forty-five feet in length and had a mast, but no decking; it is said that Dauphin Surette had built it. This boat could carry a crew of four or five men. They would go fishing off the coast of Seal Island (“La Grande Île”) for a week at a time.
Abbott’s Harbour fishing centre.It was in this boat that Mandé à Landrie d’Entremont spent one spring buying lobsters for Charles Amirault and his brother Jerry. These brothers had constructed a lobster pound at the “Quogueniche” wharf to preserve the small lobsters; at this time people were still permitted to catch small lobsters. A man named George Shand, who wasn’t from Pubnico, also had a lobster pound at the same place. One day this pound was consumed by flames but was rebuilt and later sold to John Neville of Halifax. To this day we find men and women in the village who worked in these lobster pounds… with very poor rewards in terms of monetary pension.
As mentioned, to purchase lobsters from the fishermen, Charles and Jerry hired the services of Pierre à Georges and his boat, with Mandé as his assistant. Pierre was very familiar with all things relating to the sea and was also skilled enough in carpentry that he could build a boat; but he could neither read nor write, something for which he depended on Mandé. Each day Mandé paid the fishermen for the lobsters and made a list that he presented to the owners of the lobster pound in the evening. Mandé said he was probably 17 years old at the time.
Pierre à Georges was not a man who spoke unnecessarily. If his employees made mistakes, he would simply tell them not to repeat them. Apparently he also had a motto that if one wanted to learn something, the best way to do it was by oneself. On this subject, Mandé enjoys telling the story of an incident that happened to him one day. While passing close to St. John’s Island, located at the entrance of the harbour, Pierre wanted to stop and greet a friend named Abbott, who lived there. He docked at the designated place, leaving the boat in Mandé’s care, who started sailing along the coast for fun, staying close to the shore. Unfortunately, there was a large rock in the vicinity that was well concealed at high tide. Of course, Mandé struck the rock, damaging the boat. Pierre had seen all of this transpire from the shore. Pierre reprimanded his employee by simply telling him: “That’s where the rock is; will you remember from now on?” Mandé heard this very clearly.
Mandé recites another anecdote about Pierre. One day, when it was very foggy, Pierre à George was sailing up Pubnico Harbour to the “Long Wharf”. While passing close to the islands on the western side of the harbour, our navigator came very close to wrecking on one of these islands. Dissatisfied with his clumsiness, he grabbed the compass and threw it overboard cursing it: “My blasted compass, you failed me once, you’ll never fail me again!”
Seal Island (La Grande-Île).Another time when Pierre was busy repairing his docked boat, he accidentally dropped his saw overboard. Without hesitation, he grabbed his hammer and threw it after the saw exclaiming: “If the saw wants to jump overboard, you might as well go yourself.” Later, at low tide, he went to retrieve them.
There was a group of people that Pierre à George detested: drifters. At that time it was common to see beggars walking about the village seeking charity. A certain number of them would return year after year. Within these drifters there were some that presented themselves as shipwrecked passengers from the “Bourgogne”. The “Bourgogne” seems to be a ship that had been wrecked on the coast of Nova Scotia. What better way to pull the villagers’ heartstrings than to say they had been shipwrecked? It was one of these drifters who came knocking one day on Pierre Amirault’s door; he wasn’t greeted warmly: “You look like a shipwrecked man,” said Pierre. “You’re either a lousy […] or a filthy […]. Get lost.” The drifter would never again knock on Pierre’s door.