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  • Loreauville
    – It all started at Fausse Pointe in a radiant landscape
Lake Fausse Pointe
Lake Fausse Pointe near Belle Place (photo credit: Mike Reyfman)

The municipality of Loreauville in Iberia Parish was originally called “Fausse Pointe”, then “Dugasville” after the Dugas family, who opened a trading post on the site. It then became “Picouville” when a member of the Picou family donated land to build a chapel. Later, the village took the name of “Loreauville” in honour of Ozaire Loreau, known for having financed the old Catholic church and the cemetery and for having contributed to the agricultural and economic development of the community. If Port Royal is the cradle of Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia in Canada), Fausse Pointe is the place of Acadiana (that is the regrouping of the 22 of the 64 parishes that make up Louisiana; it constitutes the “Cajun country”) where it all began. The Cajuns of Louisiana are the descendants of Acadians expelled from their homeland by the British during the “Great Upheaval” of 1755-57. After a long journey in exile in the Anglo-American colonies, many of them settled in Louisiana, then a new colony of the Kingdom of France.

Fausse Pointe on the banks of Bayou Teche downstream from Attakapas Post (currently Saint-Martinville) and upstream from New Iberia is a magnificent place where the play of light between the sun and the water delighted the French-speaking refugees. Long before the United States of America, more than 3,000 Acadians made Louisiana their adopted homeland. In 1765, Father Jean François de Civray, a Capuchin priest from New Orleans, accompanied Joseph (Beausoleil) Broussard and his some 200 compatriots to Fausse Pointe where the richness of the soil was suitable to the group. This far-sighted missionary already envisioned a “New Acadia”.

Geographically (see the accompanying map) the location is a section of the eastern and western shores of Bayou Teche stretching from the Attakapas Post to the community of Belle Place, formerly “the last camp downstream” (of refugees) near New Iberia in Iberia Parish. Nowadays, kayaking is the best way to experience the sturdy soul of the Acadian people who have become Cajun over time. To fully appreciate the spirit of these historically rich places, it is paramount to know certain crucial facts.

The camps at Fausse Pointe

Shortly after arriving at Attakapas Post, a group of Acadians, including Beausoleil, decided to settle downstream from the post on plots of land of their choice. A feeling of freedom, somehow! Then, they headed for the large bow-shaped curve in the course of the bayou, nicknamed “Fausse Pointe” or, as it was also called at the time, “The Peninsula”. There, the refugees built three camps which they called (1) “the first camp downstream” having an elevation of two meters (6,6 feet), presently the community of Daspit, (2) “the Beau Soleil camp”, the actual village of Loreauville, and (3) “the last camp downstream”, which became Belle Place. These camps were side by side. A feeling of brotherhood! Note that the colony’s Spanish administrators had their own names for these three camps, namely Cano de tortugas or Chenal des tortues for the first camp, Le Manque (to mean information missing) for the middle camp, and La Punta or La Pointe for the last camp. Obviously, Beau Soleil (in reference to Beausoleil) had no meaning for the Spaniards.

The Capuchin Fathers arrived in Acadia in 1632. It was they who opened the first regular schools in all of New France where white boys and girls as well as young indigenous people (Native Americans) were admitted on an equal basis.

Statue of Our Lady of La Salette
Statue of Our Lady of La Salette in front of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Loreauville (photo credit: an unknown citizen of Loreauville, licence CC BY-SA 3.0)

Acadia’s Great Upheaval of 1755-57, caused by the indifference of one people towards another, violently disturbed thousands of Acadians of all ages. The statue of Our Lady of La Salette weeping over indifference in front of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Loreauville, formerly Beau Soleil camp, reminds the world that storms can be the creation of men. It also reflects a sense of equality especially on sunny days when the sun shines for everyone.

The 20th century American historian and writer Carl A. Brasseaux, born in Opelousas, Louisiana, reminds us that “When Louisiana was sold to the United States, the Acadians were at the dawn of a new era that would make them Cajuns from Louisiana as opposed to Acadians who immigrated to Louisiana”.