A non-profit volunteer organization representing Acadians who live in, or have links and interest in the Tor Bay region of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. Its goals are to promote and encourage Acadian culture, genealogy and history research and sharing this information with all who are interested in the Tor Bay Acadian families and communities. It attempts to develop effective means of facilitating communications and connecting voices regardless of location. It promotes the sharing of information to all interested people as regularly as possible and hold local annual celebrations aimed at encouraging Acadian culture, genealogy, and history as well as provide family enjoyment in the area. It also promotes le Parc de Nos Ancêtres, and Salle Acadienne as unique tourist gems for visitors and friends to visit.
Background and Purpose
La Société des Acadiens de la Région de Tor Baie, wishes to officially welcome all of who have an interest in our history, culture and genealogy to our new Face Book site. This site has been professionally developed by Denise Davies, of Ekova Film and Production Services, Antigonish, and we wish to thank her for her work and continued support. It is our hope that this site will connect all of us in a way that will be meaningful, informative and enjoyable. We are open to suggestions of topics and improvements and solicit your input to these. Stories, genealogies and photos connected in any way to our Tor Bay Acadian region are most welcome. So long as your information connects to this area’s Acadian population, we are interested.
Some History to the World Congress of Acadians
In 1994, the first World Congress of Acadians was held in the Moncton area of New Brunswick reassembling thousands of descendants of scattered Acadians from around the world and re-establishing family links. So successful was this event that it was decided that repeats would be held every 10 years, but later changed to every 5 due to the level of interest evoked from this initiative. The celebrations would be rotated to different locations and held wherever large pockets of Acadians are found. Successive events were held in Louisiana in 1999, Nova Scotia 2004, northern New Brunswick 2009, and eastern Quebec 2014.
It was while planning the Nova Scotia World Congress of Acadians 2004, that our area was approached by the provincial organizers to host the Pellerin/Bonnevie Reunion since it was here that many members of those two families settled during the post-Deportation period (1763-early 1800s). Lloyd Boucher, East Tracadie, Perle (Levangie) Connolly, Boylston, and Alfred Benoit, Pomquet, met with interested members of the Tor Bay Acadian communities and explained the need and opportunity that was knocking on our door. Other Acadian families, also found in our region, chose to celebrate in other locations for a variety of reasons. Despite deep concerns over a lack of facilities and lodging, we boldly accepted the challenge of hosting this event here.
Some History to la Société des Acadiens de la Région de Tor Baie
Our Société was born from the above described initiative in 2002 with a mandate to plan and organize events for the Pellerin/Bonnevie family reunion in our region in 2004. Our first president was the late Brad Pellerin, and our association was named La Société des Acadiens de la Région de Tor Baie. Unfortunately, Brad passed in August of that year with the clear message that we were to see this project through. Proudly, his spirit guided us through the early stages and we muddled our way through the organizational phase and soon found ourselves being engrossed in a movement that became both larger and more exciting than ever imagined. So much so, it sometimes felt like a huge tsunami was building and we would have to flee, or trust that our safe harbour would once again provide a friendly refuge for those feeling threatened by this wave. Trusting our instincts we chose the latter, and our 2004 celebrations were viewed by many provincial coordinators as being one of the best staged events held throughout the province that year. As one person later analyzed, “it was strange watching people directing traffic through Larry’s River”.
A Reflection of Our Celebrations
Our celebrations saw a series of professionnally presented Genealogy workshops directed by such notable Genealogists as Steven White, l’Université de Moncton, Eileen Avery, Santa Barbara, California, Bill Gerrior, Halifax, and Sandra (Petitpas) Perro, British Columbia. Each of these almost filled our Église St. Pierre with interested participants. We had two successive night-time dances under a big-top tent with the well-known Acadian Band, Blou, and world renowned Cajun Band, Waylon Thibodeaux creating unparrelled excitement and enjoyment. We also had a very large Liturgical Celebration concelebrated by 4 priests, 3 of whom (Father Douglas Murphy, Father Frank Pellerin, Father Leo Richard) have roots here and graced by our beautiful choir under the direction of Karen Delorey and guest singer, Kathy Doornekamp (Bonnevie). What a beautiful setting for this event! The canvassed tent shaded us from the warm August sun and we were united once again in prayer with our countless displaced Acadian cousins from many locations near and far. Ave Marie Stella, our Acadian Anthem, had a special meaning that year on our National Feast Day, la Fête de l’Assomption. (August 15) It was amazing to see people’s properties filled with RVs, campers and tents as we made our way through the community to attend the various activities.
A professionally scripted Theatre Production, ” le Sel et le Poivre”, with Actor Michael Pellerin and under the professional direction of Emmy Alcorn and Guysborough’s Mulgrave Road Theatre Company, was produced and staged for the event. The story mixed carefully scripted humour and folklore to give the locals and visitors an historical reflection of life in Larry’s River and how being Acadian was both a feeling and an emotional connection to our past.
One day was spent reenacting the arrival of our people from Chezzetcook in the late 1700s by boat to the shores of Tor Bay, as well as by land in “charettes” (horse and oxen drawn wagons). This event was organized under the direction of volunteer Jim Muise. It was beautiful to see 40-50 people from different parts of North America and beyond, dressed in period costumes participating in this event and joined by our Chezzetcook cousins and family visitors. What a tremendous and moving experience to walk side by side in this event with cousins from Zambia, Africa, Arizona, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Massachussets, New York, Rhode Island, Florida, the Carolinas, every province and Territory of Canada as well as France. This was professionally filmed and serves as a beautiful and valued reminder of our cherished 2004 celebrations.
Every property proudly displayed the Acadian flag and family name lawn signs, while banners and other decorations told visitors that the Acadians of the Tor Bay region had been awakened. We were ready to open our doors and share our “joie de vivre” with our extended families and visitors as well as the world at large.
One can still close his/her eyes and picture the arrival in our bay of a sailing vessel under full sail as it made its way past Ram’s Island to the shelter of our harbour as experienced by our ancestors so many times in the past. The impromptu musical reception provided for these hearty Acadian sailors on the wharf was something to experience. Accordion players and dancers made merry the safe arrival of our sea people after a long and dangerous passage.
How could we let those 2004 nostalgic moments go dormant again?
Next episode: We Could Not Let It Happen!