(Part of an article that appeared in Le Petit Courrier on 8 August 1980 during the third acadian Festival of Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau)
Last week in Rocco Point, George Clements played the role of Father Sigogne. He read the following text that refers to the site of a cross, erected on the site of the first chapel in the region in honour of Father Sigogne’s arrival.
Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau is a pivotal place in the history of the Acadians of Southwest Nova Scotia. If the Acadians occupying the region of the d’Entremonts had been able to escape the raids and exile of 1755, they were not spared in 1756-58. Brutally torn from their lands and families and then dispersed, these Acadians later obtained the inheritance of their grandfather Philippe Mius d’Entremont. After the war of 1763, Franklin granted land to eighteen Acadian families around the region of Cape Sable. These poor settlers, saddened by the horrors of persecution and by their exploitation in Nova Scotia, were nevertheless imparted 80 arpents of land per head of family and 40 arpents for each other member. Jacques Amirault, Joseph Moulaison, Jean Pierre Mius, and Charles Doucette settled in Tousquet; Jean Bourque, Joseph Babin, Dominique, Pierre and Louis Mius, Pierre Surette, and Pierre LeBlanc settled in Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau. In 1773, the Reverend John Breynton of the legislative assembly of Halifax conceded 1193 arpents of land for 999 years to these last four, extending from Eel Brook and Eel Lake to the marsh (“le marais”), and including Rocco Point. Later, 16 August 1775, Ronald MacKinnon rented 236 arpents of land (extending from the Baie-à-Outardes to the Eel Brook) to Dominique Pothier, Jean Bourque, Paul Surette, and Joseph Babin for eight Spanish dollars, finally selling it to them for £100. The English records specify “extending from the eel brook”, signifying a land marker, such a brook and unspecified village. This is likely how the village acquired the name Eel Brook, though it has since reverted to it’s old name which had been given by missionaries and was later baptized by the abbot Jean-Mandé Sigogne. Therefore, we will officially call this village Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau.
Before 1755, there was no chapel in the Cape Sable region. There is nothing very precise documenting the errant life the exploited fugitives led before the lands were accorded by Franklin. We know, however, that after the Dispersion, the public Catholic Cult was outlawed until 1783.
It is in Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, at Rocco Point, that the first chapel of Yarmouth County was built (in 1784). There were Sunday meetings and “white masses”, but missionary visits were getting increasingly sparse.
(The article then describes the events that led to the arrival of the F. Sigogne).
It is on 21 august 1808, that Father Sigogne had the joy of governing the blessing of the new Sainte-Anne’s church and of celebrating the mass there.
From a speech written by Professor A. A. Lorgéré on 15 August 1938, in Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau.