In the year 1651 there came to Canada as governor of what was then called “Le Pays de l’Acadie” a nobleman from France named Charles de La Tour who brought with him a gentleman by the name of Sieur Philippe Mius d’Entremont, the latter as his major-general. The said de La Tour became quite a successful fur trader in south west Nova Scotia, having trading posts at Chebogue near Yarmouth, at Port La-Tour in Shelburne county, and other places.
Now, two years after his arrival in these parts, that is in 1653, Governor de La Tour granted to Philippe d’Entremont a tract of land running from the eastern side of Pubnico Harbour toward Barrington Passage which became known as “La Baronnie de Pombcoup” and making Monsieur d’Entremont a baron. The baronnie had its headquarters in East Pubnico, with its château or manoir, its chapel, its glebe house. The place did not grow very fast, but by the year 1748 it is said that one could count at least fifteen families living in Pubnico itself. In time, other families apart from the d’Entremont’s came to settle in Pubnico, but more especially in the Barrington area. These included the Amirault’s, the Landry’s, the Belliveau’s, the Clermont’s and some members of the Mius family.
All these families were to be expelled from their lands between the years 1756 to 59, those of Pubnico itself not going any farther than Massachusetts. Ten years later, in 1766, some of these people exiled to Massachusetts went to work and built themselves a schooner in which they were able to sail back to Pubnico. These included Charles Amirault and his family; Charles Belliveau and his family, as well as his son Charles and his family; the widow Marguerite d’Entremont, wife of Jacques II d’Entremont who has died in exile, and her children; and Abel Duon and his family. All of them were given grants by the then Governor of Nova Scotia, one in 1771, one in 1784, the original document of these being kept present in our own museum. The Amirault’s and the Belliveau’s settled on the east side of the harbour, the d’Entremont’s and the Duon’s (the d’Eon’s of today) on the western side.
Most of the French people living presently in West and East Pubnico are descendants of these founding families. Since then, of course, other family names have been added to the list, such as for example, the Surette’s, the LeBlanc’s and others.
Actually the population of West Pubnico is about eighteen hundred. Fishing has always been our main industry.
The Name Pubnico
As for the name Pubnico, historians tell us that it comes from the Micmac Indian word Pogomkook, meaning “a place where in winter one can go and fish eels in the harbour by cutting holes in the ice”. (This is one interpretation). When the French came along they changed the name to “Pobombcoup”, which in turns was shortened to “Pombcoup”, again to “Pubnico” when the English came.