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  • Moncton
    – The forgotten settlers at the bend of the river
The bend of the Petitcodiac River
The bend of the Petitcodiac River, in Moncton (author Sébastien Paquet, license CC BY 2.0)

History has long held that the first inhabitants of Moncton, New Brunswick’s largest city (72,000 inhabitants), were German settlers who arrived from Pennsylvania in 1766. They settled in a place called The Bend. It is to forget too quickly that Acadian families occupied the site as early as the 1730s calling their village Le Coude (meaning the bend). They also gave it the surnames of Terre-Rouge then of La Chapelle. The story of these Acadian pioneers, however, is worth a detour that reveals a little genealogical surprise…

The Petitcodiac River, in fact, runs through the city of Moncton taking the shape of an elbow of a half-folded arm, before widening and emptying into Chipoudy Bay. It was at the bend, near Hall’s Creek that separates Moncton from the neighbouring city of Dieppe, that the Pennsylvania families founded their colony. However, the very first families of European origin to occupy the site some thirty years earlier were indeed Acadians. To learn more about their history, let’s now head to downtown Moncton, by the river…

Also located at the bend of the Petitcodiac River is the Parc du Mascaret (Bore Park). It offers an ideal viewpoint on the tidal bore which rises twice a day from Chipoudy Bay. Its interest is also of cultural heritage, in memory of the first Acadian settlers of Moncton, who used this place as a natural landing ramp. Furthermore, in the immediate vicinity of the park, a chapel was built around 1748 to serve the Acadians of the surroundings. Because the exact location of their homes remains unknown, Parc du Mascaret was chosen in 1986 to erect a monument in honour of the three known pioneer families of Terre-Rouge. Who were they?

In honour of the first inhabitants

Commemorative plaque in honor of the first inhabitants
Commemorative plaque in honor of the first inhabitants (photo J-M. Agator)

There were the families of Jean (or Jean-Pierre) Babineau and his wife Isabelle Breau, of Joseph Breau and his wife Isabelle Thibodeau and of Charles Thibodeau and his wife Brigitte Breau. The three Breau were brother and sisters. At the time of the deportation of the Acadians, in 1755 and 1756, the village of Terre-Rouge was called La Chapelle. After fierce resistance from the Acadians on the Petitcodiac River, the village was not destroyed by the British until November 1758. The three pioneer families experienced diverse fortunes, imprisonment and deportation until the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763). But only Jean Babineau and his family settled again in the Petitcodiac River region. It was in tribute of the Babineau family that the Babineau Association and the Acadian Historical Society jointly erected in 1986 the monument to the first inhabitants. Jean Babineau’s family tree also reveals a little surprise (source Stephen White, after Denis Savard) …

Jean Babineau and Isabelle Breau had a daughter named Marie. From her marriage to Germain Thibodeau was born a son, Armand Thibodeau, a descendant of whom is Placide Gaudet, historian and genealogist, who in turn identified the foundations of the chapel of Terre-Rouge in 1884. But that’s not all. From a first marriage, Marie had a son named Charles Maillet, whose descendant is none other than Antonine Maillet, the famous writer and recipient of the 1979 Goncourt prize with her novel “Pélagie-la-Charette”!