Pubnico Is Something To Brag About
Being born in Pubnico and having come back to roost, I would not dare show off with such a title and then be mobbed by my neighbours, unless the bragging had been coming from outsiders. They do not brag exactly of the place, but rather of the people. Although one can wonder why Philippe Mius d'Entremont, when he was told by Governor Charles de La Tour to take any place in his territory to settle, chose Pubnico. Also, on the return of the Acadians from exile in 1766 (that I told you about in my sketch No. 34, when in Halifax they were told that they could settle in Nova Scotia at any place they would choose), sailing south they did not stop at Peggy's Cove, that people brag so much about, but kept on their way 'til they arrived in Pubnico. Beamish Murdock, in his "History of Nova Scotia" (11, p. 299) speaking of the d'Entremonts of Pubnico, says: "The love of country must have been strong indeed in the Acadians to induce them to return at the first opportunity and begin the world anew."
Even before the Expulsion, in August of 1745, Mascarene, who was commanding at Annapolis Royal as President and was Administrator of Nova Scotia, "gave an official certificate to the three brothers of Poubomcoup (Pubnico) of their steady loyalty since the declaration of war." These three brothers were Jacques, Charles and Joseph d'Entremont. This was entered in the minutes of the Council.
Nevertheless, they were to be sent into exile just like the rest of the Acadians, which astonished Dr. Andrew Brown, a Minister from England who had gathered a quantity of documents on the Acadians while he was in Halifax; he calls them "the wild, the gay", the sportive D'Entremonts.
Father Bailly, whom I told you about in the same sketch No. 34, who visited the Acadians of south-western Nova Scotia in the summer of 1769, was writing to his Bishop in Québec in 1771: "If I could, I would dress in gardener's clothes, and I would make flourish a spiritual garden at Cape Sable (the name that he gives usually to Pubnico). It is the place where there are the largest number of Catholics and, besides, the most fervent. It is so secluded that thief could live here for years without being apprehended."
François Lambert Bourneuf, of my last sketch, goes further. He spent a year in Pubnico, after which he wrote; "I felt that I was in paradise ... I was welcome by everybody, young and old, women and damoiselles. I would not have been more happy in my father's house among my parents and my dear comrades." In his narrative, he repeats further on: "I felt as is [sic] I was in paradise among such good people, men, women, children, so pleasing, so gracious. I thank them with all my heart and may God bless them for me. All the Acadians are good people, but those of Pombcoup (Pubnico) are still better than the others. When I left them I had tears in my eyes, and there is hardly a day that goes by without my thinking of them."
I cannot resist giving you the scene of his departure from Pubnico. "It was with a heart full of sorrows that I left Pombcoup. As I was ready to leave those good people, everybody assembled in the village fo see me go. I could see that the women where I had stayed were heavy-hearted whilc they packed my things, as if they were looking for something that they could not find, while others were looking at them doing so with a morose look. As for myself, I felt as if I was leaving to bury my father and my mother. When I left, everybody was crying, men, women, children. Myself, being tender-hearted, I was crying like a child. Never in my whole life have I missed more any place."
Many years later, a summer visitor wrote in the monthly magazine "The Catholic World," New York (Vol. LXI - 1895) of the people of Pubnico: "A kinder people could hardly be; the French blood shows itself in courtesy and narural politeness. They live like one great family -as indeed they are- being all closely related, and they share with each other property, labor, and good offices. And they show the inheritance of faith and the blood of martyrs by a virtue that lifts them far above the descendants of English settlers, as well as by better breeding and greater intelligence - that is, of course, better than those who, like them, labor to live, and are removed from the centres of learning and society."
In "The United Presbyterian," Pittsburgh, Pa. (July 20, 1911), another visitor says: "It is in the little village of Middle West Pubnico (sic), that the simple life is lived all the time by all the inhabitants, and here, in this little settlement of a few hundred souls, dwell the cleanest-minded, most lovable and kindly folk that can be found anywhere, and here they exemplify, in themselves, the truth that man was created but little lower than the angels."
May 19, 1925, in the "Canadian National Railway Magazine": "They are a proud, dignified and reserved people, these humble fisherfolk through whose veins courses the bluest blood of old France - a God-fearing, law-abiding race, amongst whom crime is unknown, divorce unheard of and childless marriages a source of regret and not of seeking."
Here are the headlines of an article in "The Saturday Evening Post" (New York) of April 19, 1947: "Acadian Utopia. It has no crime, poverty or illiteracy, no local taxes, lawsuits or divorce. Yet West Pubnico, despite its beauties, has one dispirited citizen," the postmaster, who had to deliver letters addressed to Joseph d'Entremont to one among nine different individuals.
"The New York Times," for its part, published July 22, 1951, the following: "From their fishing and farming community and reportedly the oldest concentration of Acadians in the world, the Pubnicos boast that they have no jail, no crime, poverty or illiteracy, no mortgages, court litigation, divorce, race or religious prejucices nor many of the other problems that continually harass the rest of the world."
Nearer to us, "The Yarmouth Herald" of August 11, 1965, was saying about the people of Pubnico that they are "doubtlessly above all a remarkable fine, industrious, thrifty, proud and devout people, cherishing their past, abreast of the present, and gazing toward the future with vision and confidence."
And still closer to us, none other than our Robert B. Blauveldt in "The Vanguard" and in "the Light Herald" of Oct. 14, and 15, 1972, joined the others in saying that West Pubnico enjoys a unique position among the Nova Scotia communities, and our province has no finer citizens than its delightful people.
That is what at least used to be said about Pubnico. Some may object that the title of this sketch should read rather "Pubnico used to be something to brag about."