Cape Breton's Heritage Coast


Isle Madame - In 1718, fishermen from St. Malo in France settled in D’Escousse. The family names of early Basque families that came to Isle Madame were Goyetche, Baccardax, Josse and DesRoches. They intermarried with the Acadian families that eventually settled here. The first permanent settlement on Isle Madame occurred during the French rule at Louisboug. Some of the earliest Acadian settlers had names such as Gerroir, LeJeune and Doiron. After the fall of Louisbourg, most of these families had to leave Isle Madame but returned later after spending some time in exile.

Most of the ancestors of Isle Madame’s present Acadian population arrived here in 1758 after the fall of Louisbourg. Some of the names of families that settled here at the time are Boudrot (Boudreau), Samson (Sampson), Martel (Martell), Dugas, DeCoste, Boucher, Petitpas, Vigneau, Fougere, Marchand, Poirier, and Landry. Some of the family names of those settlers who came from Old Acadie after years of exile are: Foret, Theriot (Theriault, Terrio), Babin, LeBlanc, Forgeron, Bellefountaine, Lavandier, Meunier and Richard. In 1752, the following family names were recorded in D’Escousse: Bernard, Langlois, Poujet, Josse, Joseph and Bouget.

In 1764, the British allowed Catholics to own land if they signed the Oath of Allegiance to the English King. In 1775, there were 18 houses in Arichat, 5 in D’Escousse and 4 in Petit de Grat. The Acadians had to leave Isle Madame because American privateers were threatening them. Only 6 families remained.

Many of the early settlers were not permitted to hold public office, vote, own land, teach or attend school because of Nova Scotia’s anti-Catholic laws. These laws were finally abolished in 1784. in 1752, there were about 35 Acadian families that had come here from France. They made their living through cod fishing, making cordwood and keeping cattle.

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