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  • Pubnico (Pobomcoup)
    – Avenging deportation
The Acadian Historical Village
The Acadian Historical Village of Nova Scotia (source Off Track Travel)

At the outset, it’s important to know that the seascape of Pubnico in southwestern Nova Scotia is splendidly beautiful. Around 1650, the governor of Acadia, Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour, invited Philippe Mius d’Entremont, whose ascending genealogy is a puzzle, to become commander of the King’s troops. Three years later, the governor granted him the title of baron and offered him, by way of benefits in kind for services rendered, a seigneury wherever he wanted. D’Entremont then chose “Pogomkook”, a place known to the Mi’kmaq First Nation and meaning, according to historians, “a place where in winter you can go fishing for eels in the port by digging holes in the ice”. The French appellation became “Pobomcoup”. Then with the arrival of Anglo-Americans the place took the name of “Pubnico”. Through his administrative skills and because he was one of the few Acadian Lords to cultivate raw lands, d’Entremont played a key role in the history of the colony. Several families from Port-Royal did settle on his estate, helping to form a vibrant community where fishing became predominant. The Baron erected his feudal castle near the entrance to the harbor serving as a port, on a peninsula about twelve kilometers long which protected all schooners from the waves of the high sea. His residence took the name of “The Barony of Pobomcoup”. It is situated where the Acadian Historical Village of Nova Scotia is today. The seigneury remained in the hands of the Entremont family until 1758, when the local people were deported.

The seigneury of Pobomcoup

Three conditions are expressly stipulated in the deed of concession of the seigneury to Baron d’Entremont, made at Port-Royal’s fort on July 17, 1653. They were first to occupy the domain, and second to populate it. The third obligation was unusual and intimate. It required Philippe Mius d’Entremont to offer his grantor, Saint-Étienne de la Tour, each year in a handbag made of beaver skin a bouquet of flowers on the occasion of the feast of St. John the Baptist. There were 55 seigneuries in all of Acadia, but most of the Lords did not bother exploiting their domain and populating it: these granted these lands were far too large and the French colonial government did not exercise any control. Only a few rare Acadian seigneuries, notably Port-Royal (1606), Beaubassin (1676), Grand-Pré (1682) and Cobequid (1689) experienced significant settlement.

Sculpture of Lord Philippe Mius d´Entremont
Sculpture of Lord Philippe Mius d´Entremont at the entrance to the Acadian Historical Village (Photo credit: William Fischer, Jr., source Historical Marker Database)

“Noblesse oblige” suggests that the holder of a nobility title behaves honorably. Judging by the gigantism of the wooden statue erected in the effigy of Philippe Mius d’Entremont, the founding baron of Pobomcoup carried out his duties with dignity. The statue, 3.6 meters (12 feet) high, was carved on site from a pine trunk by Albert Deveau of Edmundston. The sculptor was inspired by a watercolor portrait painted by Father Maurice LeBlanc. On the grounds that there is no known authentic image of this noble Acadian Lord.

In 1754 Charles Lawrence, Governor of Nova Scotia, made the decision to replace the Acadians with Anglo-Americans. Oath of allegiance or not, the fate of the original settlers was cast. From 1755 to 1762, the Acadians were expelled from their lands, deported en masse with no return policy, and dispersed elsewhere so as not to return.

The port of Pubnico
The port of Pubnico, where eel fishing was done in winter (Artwork by Barb Holmes, source Etsy)

While the deportation was carried out successfully, according to British government authorities, its ultimate goal was not achieved. For, in contrast to the manu militari actions of Charles Lawrence, it was through their strong determination that the deportees survived and won what they wanted most, that is going home. Despite the disappearance of New France in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris, we know that from 1764 several members of the families who lived on the barony (seigneury) of Pobomcoup and its surroundings returned (victoriously) to resettle on their former lands.