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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



Microfiche Report Series 83


Margaret Fortier


Fortress of Louisbourg

Part Two- The Outports

Petit  Laurembec 

Petit Laurembec had become, according to the 1753 census, the best established and most populous community in the colony after Louisbourg. At that time there were 25 habitations on the shore around the barachois which cut into the land about four miles east of Grand Laurembec. [1] This fishing community had grown steadily throughout the years prior to 1745, and it continued to attract fishermen when the French returned in 1749. However, the fortunes of Petit Laurembec changed dramatically after 1758. Holland reported in 1767 that Gordon Harbor, as he renamed it, was occupied by only one family. [2] By 1805, according to Judge Dodd, there were ten families at Laurembec who farmed and fished. [3]

The only references to the terrain around Petit Laurembec were included in the 1753 census and in a report made three years later by Pontleroy, a French engineer. In 1753 the census taken stated that the habitants established along this harbour were "dans une aisance mediocre". They subsisted on their fishing and the cod they sold. The land around the harbour was good only for gardens and would not support any other cultivation. Moreover, the climate was "peu tempere and les Brumes tres frequentes". Slender wood covered the raised lands of the north and northwest coasts. Some prairie and pasturage was found near the harbour. [4]

Plans show a "pleine du Petit Laurembec" west of the harbour which seems to have been virtually treeless, while the areas to the north and east were tree covered. The most significant natural feature in the vicinity is the small mountain in the plain area which was indicated on most plans of the coast. With the plain before it devoid of trees, this hill was a most visible landmark for passing ships. [5] The plain itself was very wet and very difficult to cross. [6]

The largest concession granted on Petit Laurembec harbour was to Pierre Boucher, sub-engineer at Louisbourg. Though,he was granted the land in 1726 by the governor and commissaire-ordonnateur, it was several years before he received confirmation of the concession from France. The land, which, measured 1,275 toises by 1,280 toises, was located at the "fond" of the barachois at Petit Laurembec. While awaiting confirmation of the grant, Boucher went ahead and had the land cleared for prairie. In 1753, by which time the land belonged to Jacques Perrain, there were 15 arpents of prairie land and a very large garden. Bouchrs does not seem to have employed any fishermen on his land. However, in 1731 he reported that he had set five men to work clearing paths so that the fishermen of Petit Laurembec could go to gather wood for drying their catch. He had also built a barn and a small lodging for his workers. There is no indication of what Boucher grew on the land or what kind of animals he raised. When Boucher sold the land to Perrain in 1751, 80 pieds square was reserved for construction of a church, presbytery and cemetery. [7]

Pontleroy noted in 1756,that there were 22 families living at Petit Laurembec, all of whom earned their living in the fishery. He was told by the inhabitants of the community that each year about 200 men came to help with the fishery. [8]

The table following lists all the known concessions and sales at Petit Lorembec from 1717 to 1758. [9]