Brief History of Pubnico
Pubnico is located in what was called, before the Expulsion, CAPE SABLE, which, even at the beginning, around 1614, had as its center what is now Port La Tour, called then Port Lomeron, David Lomeron having here a trading post, dealing with fur and fish. Charles de Biencourt, who was at the head of the small group of Frenchmen of what was then Acadia, comprising the south-western part of the peninsula, died around 1624. In 1631. Louis XIII named as Governor of Acadia Charles de La Tour, who had been a faithful companion of Charles de Biencourt. It is then that the name of Port Lomeron was changed to the name of Port La Tour. He was named Governor of Acadia again in 1651, while in France, from where he came back, bringing with him Philippe Mius d’Entremont, who was to be his Major. It is Philippe Mius d’Entremont who was to be the founder of Pubnico.
In 1653, Charles de La Tour gave to Philippe Mius d’Entremont the choice to settle wherever he would like. He chose what was then known to the Indians as Pobomcoup, meaning “a place where holes have been made through the ice to fish”. Charles de La Tour erected the place into a barony, the first ever constituted in Acadia, and the second in all Canada. He gave to Philippe Mius d’Entremont the title of Baron. The center of the barony was located on the east side of the harbour, not far from its head. It was in this same year, 1653, that Philippe Mius d’Entremont came to live here, with his wife, Madeleine Hélie, and their daughter Marguerite, who was born in France and was to become the wife of Pierre Melanson, the founder of Grand-Pré. It is here that were born Philippe, and Madeleine, the youngest of the family.
Philippe Mius d’Entremont, having been named Attorney General of the King in Acadia, had to follow the Governor wherever he would be. That is why he did not stay very long at the barony. He died in Grand-Pré in 1700, probably at his daughter’s, being about 91 years of age. Charles de La Tour, whose daughters Jacques and Abraham were to marry, had died in 1663.
It was Jacques, it seems, who built at the center of the barony the manor house, which stood till the time of the Expulsion; it is here that he brought up his family. With regard to his brother Abraham, although he had a large family, his children did not leave any descendants. Philippe, his other brother, is the ancestor of the MIUS family (now spelled in many different forms), which was the real patronymic or family name, while Jacques’ descendants dropped the name MIUS, to keep only as surname the name d’ENTREMONT.
The oldest son of Jacques, whose name was also Jacques, as his father, settled in the Barrington region, where were born his four sons, Jacques, Joseph, Paul and Benoni. At the time of the Expulsion, Jacques, junior, was exiled in France. With regard to the rest of the family, they were all sent to Massachusetts at the end of April 1756, where the father, Jacques, senior, died in 1759. The remainder of the family was to come back from exile in 1766. With regard to the barony of Pobomcoup, it was devastated and burned to the ground by the English in September of 1758.
In 1766, the Amirault, Belliveau, d’Entremont, Duon (now d’Eon) and Mius families left Salem, Massachusetts, in a boat they had built, on their way to Quebec. They stopped in Halifax, where they told the authorities that they were going to Quebec to be able to practice their Catholic Religion. They were told to choose any place they would want in Nova Scotia and that a priest would be sent to them shortly.
They turned around and headed for the Barrington region, where most of them had lived prior to the Expulsion. But seeing that the land which they had cultivated had already been taken by the English and that the winter months were approaching, they decided to spend winter, as well as they could, on the Sand Hills close to Barrington.
In the Spring, 1767, they went to the place where was located the barony. But here again, they had been preceded by the English. The Belliveau families settled in East Pubnico, in the section that is still Acadian today. The Muis families settled at the base of the Tousquet river, at Wedgeport. A little higher, the Amirault families settled at Amirault’s Hill, while the LeBlancs settled at Rocco Point (Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau). The d’Entremonts had no other choice than to settle at the Pubnico peninsula, west of the harbor, which had not been occupied by the Acadians before the Expulsion. And thus Pubnico was settled for a second time by the Acadians in 1767.
Pubnico comprises three different sections. There are West Pubnico, whose people are almost all French speaking, Pubnico proper, better known as Pubnico Head, whose people are mostly all English speaking, and East Pubnico, the part where is believed to have been located the barony, being occupied by English speaking people, and the rest, up to the Shelburne county line, which is occupied mostly by French speaking people.
The first Acadians who came from the surrounding communities to settle in Pubnico were the Surettes. They were followed by the LeBlancs. Today, the surnames in Pubnico are very numerous, comprising a certain number of anglophones. But it is still the d’Entremont family which is the most numerous, followed by the Amirault and d’Eon families.
According to the census of 1981, there were in West Pubnico 1877 people; in Pubnico (Head) 173 people, and in East Pubnico 140 people in the anglophone section and 423 people in the francophone section.
The great majority of the people live from the fishing industry, which comprises especially lobster, scallops, herring and ground-fish, also haddock and cod. In West Pubnico, there are three fishing ports and in East Pubnico two. With regard to fish plants, there were at the beginning of the 1980’s about half a dozen in West Pubnico and two in East Pubnico.
Upon entering the village of West Pubnico, the visitor will see within a kilometer a monument that was erected in 1951 to the memory of Philippe Mius d’Entremont. On it are also inscribed the names of those young men of West Pubnico who gave their lives during the two World Wars. About half a kilometer further down is the Museum. At another half a kilometer further are the millstones which were used before the Expulsion by the ancestors of the Pubnico people to grind their wheat. Then the visitor will find the Catholic church, with its high steeple, which was built between 1888 and 1891, the third erected in West Pubnico. Nearly three kilometers further, is the road which leads to the Old Cemetery, where was built in 1840 the second church and where was erected in 1981 a monument to commemorate the history of the premises. With regard to the first church ever built, it had been erected on the other side of the road, the corner stone having been placed in the summer of 1810. There are no more traces of it to be found. At the end of this road, the last house on the right hand side is the first one ever built with boards in Pubnico, dating back to 1799. It was erected for Benoni d’Entremont, one of the three d’Entremont brothers who were the co-founders of West Pubnico.
Pubnico is considered as being not only the oldest village which, in Acadia, is still occupied by the Acadians, but also as the oldest village in Canada which is still occupied by the descendants of its founder.