BOUDREAU’S BANK – AN ACADIAN SETTLEMENT? (December 19/11)

About the time plans were made to bring New England settlers to the Minas Basin, the provincial Governor abolished the old ruling military council. To replace it, Lord Edward Cornwallis then organized a civil government with headquarters in Halifax. Among the members of this governing Council was one Charles Morris, a New Englander who was also chief land surveyor for the province.

It was Morris who apparently laid out boundaries for townships on the Minas Basin and other areas. And it was Morris who in a letter to the governing Council in 1760 wrote that the actual settlement of the township of Cornwallis was to be at “Boudrou’s Bank (sic).”

Now Boudreau’s Bank, as it’s now spelled, obviously is a name that is of Acadian origin – it refers to a natural quay on the Cornwallis River used for decades by the French says Arthur W. H. Eaton in his Kings County history, but is this a fact? It’s surprising a government official, Morris, used an Acadian name for what may have been a river landing or was even aware of what the Acadians called the place. However, in his 1953 Master’s thesis on pre-Loyalist settlements around Minas Basin, James Stuart Martell quotes from the Morris letter to Council, pinpointing Boudreau’s Bank as the main settlement area in Cornwallis township.

I’ve found other references to Boudreau’s Bank as if it was a place name, an Acadian settlement. The Morris reference indicates it was a settlement of sorts, as does a reference to Boudreau’s Bank in the Port Williams history, The Port Remembers. This reference can be found on page 21 of the history and it reads: “Boudreau’s Bank became Town Plot when the Planters laid out the town site at this point.”

Now, let’s look at a monument near Boudreau’s Bank. The monument is tucked away on an old, little used road by the Cornwallis River and it commemorates the arrival of the Planters to the township of Cornwallis, which is on the south side of the Cornwallis River. The monument stands in a historically important, relatively isolated area of Kings County. The area is “historic” since it was near the monument’s site that the Planters disembarked after sailing up the Cornwallis River. The plaque on the monument refers to Boudreau’s Bank, noting it was the place known to the Acadians by that name, and it was a natural landing on the Cornwallis River.

The Planters landed on this site on June 4th 1760, the monument states. In his county history, Eaton refers to the site as the “disembarkement area,” one of the “chief places” selected as a landing point in Kings County. A town plot had already been laid out there – this is referred to on the monument – but it was to be a “town” in name only. Eaton writes that at the Town Plot the “bold bank” (of the Cornwallis River) gave way and made a natural landing area. Eaton says as well it was a “port” well used by the Acadians and was the “chief place of anchorage for vessels coming to Grand Pre through the whole French period in Acadia.”

Eaton said Boudreau’s Bank was a port on the Cornwallis River but was it also a tiny Acadian settlement? Possibly it was. The reference Morris made to Boudreau’s Bank indicates it was more than a port. Keep in mind that in the early days, when there were no roads, settlements often sprouted up at well-used landing places along rivers and the seashore. Whether Boudreau’s Bank was one of those places that evolved beyond being a port can only be speculated on.

Lorna Coleman beside Planters' monument

Lorna Coleman checks out the monument by the Cornwallis River which marks the place the Planters landed in 1760. Coleman is a descendant of the Planters. Boudreau’s Bank, which is nearby, is mentioned on the monument as the landing site. (E. Coleman)

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