The History of Louisdale

Previous to 1850 there lived in Little Anse French Acadians whose only occupation was fishing. After the fishing season was over there was nothing else to do but to shoot wild birds in winter. The surroundings of Little Anse are very rocky and barren. The winter being very severe they suffered a lot for the want of fuel they decided among themselves that somebody should go in search of a new home for the winter.

On the 12th day of September 1850 John Marie Marchand, Bastian Sampson and their two sons sailed out of Little Anse in a whaleboat and a little boat in tow to explore the north shore of Lennox passage. It was inhabited all along until they came to Seal Cove, what is presently known as Louisdale. They anchored the whaleboat and decided to take the little boat to find out if there was a channel to enter the cove, after discovering that there was plenty of water they took the whaleboat inside the cove and anchored. They made their fist landing at the site of Thomas Marchand's House. Being heavily wooded to the high water mark they tied their boat to a tree and began to explore the present site of Louisdale. After exploring the rest of the day they decided that it would be a great place to come and live in the winter. Having with them all the necessary tools to build a log house they set to work the next morning to build a log house 30 feet long by 24 feet wide. It was completed in six working days, ready to move in. The next day they sailed back to Little Anse to finish their fishing season, which would end about the first week of November. John Marie Marchand had eight children, four sons: Desiree, John, Benjamin, and Edward, and four daughters: Mary, Judith, Nancy and Angella. Bastian Sampson had seven children, six sons: Desiree, Abraham, Cyperian, Elais, Bastian and John and one daughter Adelle.

On the 10th of November, John Marchand, son of John Marie Marchand embarked in a schooner from Petit de Grat to Prince Edward Island with pickled herring to exchange for potatoes and turnips, to supply both families for the winter.

On the 11th of November the families chartered a little vessel from Petit de Grat in order to take them and their baggage to Louisdale. On the 12th they sailed out of Little Anse for Seal Cove, now known as Louisdale, and arrived the same day. To their disappointment they found their log house that they had built two months previously reduced to ashes. Not discouraged by their misfortune they set to work, cutting the wood along the shore and hauling the whale boat up onto the shore. They turned the boat upside down and with sails and bedclothes, managed to live under the boat for three days until they built another log house 30 feet long by 24 feet wide. With their provisions nearly exhausted, John Marie Marchand and his wife Melie decided to go to Arichat or Petit de Grat to replenish their supplies. On the 16th of November they left from Louisdale following a little path through the woods to what is now Grandique Ferry Road, to cross to Isle Madame. While they were away there came a heavy north east snow storm that lasted for three days, not being able to get back before the storm was over they were very uneasy because they had left their family of seven children with one cake, the size of a common loaf of bread. Besides suffering from the lack of food the new log house proved to be very cold in such a storm, as it had not yet been corked.

John Marchand Jr. arrived from PEI on November 28th with eighty bushels of potatoes and twenty-five bushels of turnips. Not having a root cellar ready to store them in they began to dig a hole in a hurry at the site of what would become Hycinth Sampson's home. Before they could finish a heavy frost and cold snap froze all their potatoes and turnips, so they had no choice of menu and ate the frozen vegetables all winter.

In 1851 the wooden ship industry was flourishing on Isle Madame, the families owned three shipyards and two wooden ships were under construction. The demand for juniper trunnels was very good, going over to see the builders; they were lucky enough to secure a contract for fourteen thousand in exchange for a barrel of flour.

In March of the same year, they cut and piled at the edge of the bank, fourteen cords of wood for one barrel of corn meal, all spring they cut down the forest, burnt the land and cultivated it enough to plant potatoes, with a hoe, in between the stumps. On the 15th of May they returned to Little Anse for the fishing season, leaving their wives and small children to plant crops and guard their log houses, they took with them the boys that were old enough to help with the fishing. On arriving in Little Anse they were greeted by their friends and relatives, who were very anxious to hear how they fared through the winter in their new land of adventure.

After relating their experiences, three more fishermen decided to follow them in the fall, these men were Benjamin Linden, Isaac Marchand, and Regis Marchand.

Things went on smoothly during the summer the two pioneers would come to see their families and wives every two or three weeks, to see how they were getting along.

With only one year since the discovery of Louisdale the population now numbered 43. For a couple of years there wasn't much to do except the regular routine of going to Little Anse in the spring and returning in the fall, but little by little more land was cultivate. The north of Louisdale, Grand Anse, was mostly Scotsmen, all farmers who were settled far apart. The nearest farm was Farquhar MacPherson's, these people where very friendly with the Acadians and exchanged fish for farm products, they also exchanged butter and mild for tea, tobacco, and cotton cloth. Arichat, being the commercial town, was a long distance for these farmers to go to obtain these necessities. When the fishing season was over, the Acadians would arrive with supplies and exchange these with the Scottish farmers for wool and hay. This went on for quite awhile and would enable each family to keep a cow until more cultivated land could be found in Louisdale.

In 1856 another family decided to come to Louisdale, Joshua Samson and his seven children, they would be the sixth family to settle in Louisdale.

In 1858 the cod fishing industry developed on the coast of Cape Breton as far east as Flint and the Scotarie Islands. Bastian Sampson and his sons, being quite handy at wood work, decided to build a little fishing schooner of about 17 tons to go cod fishing along the coast, they gathered the wood and built the boat on the north side of Nicholas Lake. Not being able to work steady in the summer, it took them two years to build the boat and it was finally completed in 1861. After it was completed they had to come down River Maulin, the outlet to Lennox Passage. Now River Maulin was very shallow in spots, and because of the temporary bridge that was built they were forced to wait for a heavy freshet, so the bridge was torn down and their dream was accomplished. Amid the cheers of the six families, the Acadian schooner was seen cutting the waters of the Maulin River and entered the Lennox Passage. That same year a permanent bridge was built at River Maulin and a road was cut to Grandique Ferry, it was the width of a wagon or sleigh, to enable a horse and buggy or a horse and sleight to travel on it.

Grandique Ferry was the nearest settlement to Louisdale, the Irish inhabited it, and they had no schoolhouse but were taught in a private home.

The population of Louisdale was increasing rapidly and there was need of a school to educate the children, after discussing the matter between the people of Grandique and the Acadians of Louisdale, they came to a conclusion that one schoolhouse would be built between the two settlements. In 1856 the fist schoolhouse was built, one mile and a half from Louisdale to serve both settlements.

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