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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff


(June 23, 2004)

The Dugas Story

By Anne Marie Lane Jonah

Joseph Dugas was a carpenter, a coastal navigator and trader. He voyaged to Acadia and between Port Toulouse, Île St. Jean and Louisbourg carrying fuel, livestock, and other freight. He was the grandson of an Acadian civil administrator, Abraham Dugas. Joseph and his father Abraham left Les Mines in 1714 with their families and settled in Port Toulouse. Joseph was on a 1717 list of Acadian refugees at Port Toulouse no longer dependent on rations, but his father and many others were listed as still requiring rations after two years of settlement. Between 1726 and 1733 Dugas, his wife Marguerite Richard, and their nine children moved to Louisbourg and acquired a slave. Their negre domestique, Pierre Josselin, was 25 years old when he died in 1733. During the small pox epidemic and famine of 1732-1733, Dugas, three of his daughters, and Josselin died.

After the death of the father of minor children in 18th French society there was an election of tutors held. The purpose was to appoint a male to represent the children in legal or financial matters. The male relatives and friends of the children usually chose the tuteur from among themselves and designated the mother as the subrogé tuteur. In Louisbourg the tuteur chosen was often the mother, as was the case with the Dugas family. François Cressonet dit Beauséjour, the owner of Le Billiard, Rue de Quay was elected the subrogé tuteur of the Dugas children. He was related to them through his wife, Marguerite Dugas, who was Joseph Dugas Senior's first cousin. As subrogé tuteur Beauséjour shared in the responsibility for the Dugas children's upbringing.

In the census of 1734 Marguerite Richard, la veuve Dugas, had in her household two sons over the age of 15, Charles (b.1711) and Joseph (b. 1714), one son under 15, Abraham (b.1726), and two daughters, Angélique (b.1723) and Jeanne (b. 1731). There were also two servants or domestics and four sailors or fishermen in the household. She owned two vessels for commerce or trade.
Marguerite Richard married Charles de Saint Étienne de la Tour in 1736. He was the grandson of Charles de Saint Étienne de la Tour, an early governor of Acadia. They had twin daughters, Jeanne Charlotte and Anne, in 1737. They probably moved from Rue Royalle to a property he had bought from his uncle, Captain Charles de Saint Étienne de la Tour (d.1731), in block 20 between rue de Orleans and rue de France. The eldest Dugas son Charles was living at Grand Pré in the 1740s, where he married Anne LeBlanc in 1739. He regularly came to Louisbourg as Captain of trading vessels from Acadia. His brother Joseph married Marguerite Leblanc (Anne's cousin) at about the same time, but the register has not survived. Joseph and his wife most probably were living on Rue Royalle in the late 1740s, although he was often absent from the town. His brother Abraham may also have been living there, he did not marry until 1748.

The adult sons of Joseph Dugas took up coastal trading. Joseph fils also had a butchering business, importing cattle from Acadia and selling it at Louisbourg. He rented a building from Captain François Dupont Duvivier, also an investor in the business. Joseph had financial difficulties because of this business; at one point his mother was dealing with his creditors, and he was no longer in business by the 1740s. In a letter to the Minister of the Marine a group of habitant-pêcheurs complained about Duvivier's interference in their trade and also blamed him for the failure of Dugas' business. All of the Dugas brothers appear on the Louisbourg port records: Joseph and Abraham before 1745 and all three after 1749, shipping provisions, munitions, fuel, and in the early 1750s, Acadians across the Northumberland Strait.

In 1752 Jeanne Dugas and her brother Joseph were living on land that had been their father's in Port Toulouse. Jeanne was married to Pierre Boy (Bois) and Joseph was a widowed father of five children. Joseph married Louise Arseneau at Chedabucto in 1762. His daughter Marguerite married Jean Sire at Beaubassin in 1763.These marriages were registered at Saint Pierre and Miquelon in 1766. Abraham Dugas, his wife Marguerite LeBlanc (cousin of his brother's first wife), and their half-sisters, Anne and Jeanne Charlotte Saint Étienne de la Tour, were also in Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the 1760s. Jeanne Dugas and Pierre Bois were among the founders of Chéticamp in 1785 and their descendants still live in Cape Breton today.