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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


Gabarus Bay, Pichon wrote in 1758, is formed by Gabarus Point on one side and White Point on the other, a distance across of about one and a half lieues. [1] The land around the bay varied in quality. From White Point east along the coast the ground was rough and marshy, covered mostly with fir trees. At some point, about five or six miles from Louisbourg, the forest changed, becoming mostly hardwood, particularly beech. A good quantity of merisier (yellow birch) was also reported on the north side of the bay. The trees on the south shore were mostly fir, though some hardwood could be found. On this same shore, to the west, were several "belles et bonnes prairies". All around the bay was good land for pasturage. [2] Most of the concessions granted at Gabarus were for the purpose of cutting hay. A corporal testifying at the trial of a deserter in 1724 declared that he was returning from Gabarus where he had been cutting hay when he met the errant soldier. [3]

Like Menadou harbour, Gabarus Bay and the land around it were to be reserves for boats coming from France to fish. In addition, land could be set aside for officers, as had been done in Plaisance. [4] Several grants were made at Gabarus, all but one or two to officers of the Compagnies Franches. The exception was to Le Normant, the son of a commissaire-ordonnateur, who later held that post himself. Le Normant received his concession in 1726. His land was situated at the "fond" of Gabarus Bay and included what is now known as Lever Lake. He received all hunting and fishing rights to the land and waters within its bounds. [5] In 1736 Jacques Philippe Rondeau, the colony's treasurer, purchased the property for 1,650 livres. At the time of the sale, it was said that Le Normant had cleared and cultivated part of the land. [6]

Soon after the French returned to Ile Royale in 1749, Rondeau's widow leased part of the property to Nicolas Collas, a carpenter, for six years. She retained some of the beach front, along with the right to cut any wood necessary for building cabanes, flakes or a wharf on that section of the land. In addition, the agreement stipulated:

La Roque noted in 1752 only that there was someone on Rondeau's land "qui la fait valoir". [8] In 1753 the property was said to have 60 toises in garden. No livestock was mentioned. [9]

Madame DuVivier, who also held land at Gabarus, entered into a similar rental agreement in 1733 with three Irishmen - Patrick Power, John Whalling and Laurence Whalling. How or when she came in possession of this land is not known. Nor is its exact location marked on any plans. The terms of the lease called for the three men to build a wharf, flakes, grave and cabanes. When the seven year period agreed upon was up, the buildings and fishing apparatus were to remain for Madame DuVuvier's use. She retained the right to cut all the wood she saw fit, while also reserving for hers elf all the prairie land with the4hay that it produced. [10]

De Goutin was granted or purchased land on the south side of the. bay which included a point of land or "presqu'ile" which jutted out into the bay. An undated plan of this land and another presqu'ile nearby shows nothing built on De Goutin's property. [11] In 1752 La Roque noted that this land had not been put "en valeur". He referred to the presqu'ile as Point Du Chasse. [12]

Captains D'Ailleboust and Chassin De Thierry were granted land at Gabarus for the purpose of growing hay. No details concerning their concessions have been found. La Roque reported that both properties were on the coast and were uncultivated. [13]

Commissaire-ordonnateur De Mezy mentioned in 1732 that Governor St. Ovide held land at Gabarus. At some unknown date this property was purchased by Du Chambon, and the presqu'ile du gouverneur became the Ile Au Major. An undated plan indicates the presence of two fishing establishments on the land, each of which had a wharf, flakes, grave and some small buildings. [14] In 1752 Du Chambon's land was occupied by two families:

Two men, about whom nothing is known, were listed on the 1753 census. They are Pierre Chouquel'dit La Volonté and Pierre La Tuiller. If the land they occupied was their own, it is surprising they were not listed earlier since one had 15 arpents cleared for prairie and 100 toises in garden, while the other had 10 arpents in prairie and 60 toises in garden. It is likely that they were engaged by two of the concession holders to care for their lands, but whose is not indicated. [17]

In 1767 Holland related a story concerning a silver mine in the Gabarus area. A German, it was said, built a hut, ostensibly for a hunting retreat. When his circumstances underwent a sudden change for the better, the French authorities investigated and found a mine. They closed the mine and ordered the other residents of Gabarus not to mention the existence of the mine to anyone. If they did, they were told, a plague or pestilence would spread among them. The hut was burned down, and all evidence of the mine was hidden. Holland reported that the story was not without foundation, but that his superficial search had turned up only samples of "Plumbago or Micar". [18]

Judge Dodd, in his study of Cape Breton, stated that he had personally seen as many as 1,500 caribou in the "Gabarus barrens". [19] With the good grazing land and hardwood stands it is likely that game was abundant in the Gabarus area.

Gabarus, Uniacke noted' in 1862, was a "growing settlement ..." [20] This is born out by the figures contained in the 1861 Nova Scotia census which show that considerable agriculture as well as fishing was carried out in the community. There were two water-powered grist mills and two saw mills, also water-powered. In addition, 31 boats were constructed there that year, while 124 boats were engaged in the fishery. A lime burning operation also existed, producing 110 bushels of lime. The agricultural figures are particularly interesting: [21]