Salmon River Deveaus gather to mark founding
A monument dedicated to an Acadian family hopes to shine a spotlight on lesser known aspects of the era of French persecution throughout the Maritimes.
The memorial is a private commission and will be unveiled this weekend in Salmon River in Digby County in honour of a branch of the Deveau family.
It commemorates the family as the first Acadian settlers of that village, arriving in the spring of 1786 to embark on a new life, far different than one they had known.
Organizers Kenneth Deveau from the Université de Saint Anne and Louis Deveau, chair of Acadian Seaplants, are direct descendants of Jacques Deveau and his wife Marie-Madeleine Robichaud.
“Their story is much more than just the Deportation beginning in 1755, which they escaped,” says renowned Acadian historian and author Dr. Sally Ross, who was commissioned by Louis to research and piece together their ancestors’ experience.
Like many Acadian families, Jacques, Marie-Madeleine and their children experienced a nomadic life and endured frequent upheavals and separations following systematic persecution and raids of villages throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ile Saint-Jean, the former French colony now known as Prince Edward Island.
The family took refuge over time in all three provinces and eventually were captured and imprisoned in Fort Edward.
Another direct descendant is amateur historian and president of the New England Antiquities Association Terry Deveau, who will also be on hand at the ceremony to talk about the area's settlement and how this particular branch of Acadians reacted to their reality.
“How we know about them is special too because the legal records we have shows how the Deveaus and their Robichaud in laws stuck together throughout those years,” he said.
The same names show the same core group of names listed consecutively in Fort Edward enumerations and in Bailey’s Register entries, standing for each other at weddings and as godparents at baptisms, he said.
Finding the original deeds to land, some of which were digitized, is proving troublesome however, he said.
In 1764 the council of Halifax allowed Acadian families to settle in Nova Scotia provided they swore the oath of allegiance to the crown.
Acadians who remained in the province were usually pressed into service for dyke repair and fort construction work between Halifax and Annapolis Royal.
Deveau says there is some evidence to suggest the family was rewarded for their work with a land grant in Loyalist Rossway (Cap Rouge) on Digby Neck.
By 1775, the Township of Clare was founded specifically to grant land to the first 62 Acadian families to settle there.
Through a series of land petitions and swaps with a Loyalist family, eventually the Deveau family was given 200 acres in Salmon River, about 12 miles inland from Meteghan, so they could be closer to the French population in Clare.
The custom granite monument, designed by Dr. Ross and made by Heritage Memorials of Windsor, weighs two tonnes and features symbols depicting the family's heritage and unique story, local heritage and environment.
It will be unveiled on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. at the corner of Highway 1 and Davis Cove Road in Salmon River, Digby County.
Their story is much more than just the Deportation beginning in 1755, which they escaped.
Dr. Sally Ross Acadian historian