Mgr. Donat Robichaud is known for publishing numerous collections on the history of many communities in the northeast of the province. Outstanding examples of his work are the monographs he prepared on Shippagan, Beresford, and Paquetville. He also penned many articles published in the Cahiers of the Société historique Nicholas-Denys.
He is less well known for his work of cataloguing primary sources (archives) and publishing research tools that he authored. For example, he catalogued information from the Gloucester County Registry Office, which he published in 12 volumes, covering the years from 1827 to 1891. But perhaps his greatest legacy was the fact that he went through many newspapers such as The Mercury (1826-1829), Miramichi’s The Gleaner (1829-1880), and Bathurst’s Le Courrier des Provinces Maritimes (1885-1903). Similarly, in 1989, he began going through the L’Évangéline newspaper, which he entitled “L’Évangéline tells the story of northeastern New Brunswick.” Beginning in 1989 with the first volume, which covered the period from 1887 to 1889, this adventure terminated in 2003 with the publication of the eighth volume ending in 1957. These publications therefore contain 70 years of northern New Brunswick history, events of great historical significance, of course, such as the major Acadian conventions (Caraquet, Moncton, etc.), and the two World Wars, but also the minor events that occurred in the many communities that make up this part of the province. This consummate “monastic” labour now affords other researchers easier access to a very important body of literature without which their work would be much more time consuming and difficult.
A few years before his death, I asked Mgr. Robichaud for his permission to convert this documental corpus into a database that would be accessible via the Provincial Archives website. Mgr. Robichaud readily agreed as he saw it as an opportunity to make this wellspring of information even more accessible than found in L’Évangéline. As he put it so well when the first volume appeared in 1989, “Once I had completed this work for my own satisfaction, I felt embarrassed to keep this indispensable research tool all to myself.”
The project proved much more difficult than anticipated and took several years to complete. Today, we are proud to present and offer it to researchers as a legacy of this great Acadian historian who helped, through his many publications, to raise awareness of the immense wealth of our heritage.
The documentary corpus covers the years from 1887 to 1957 and focuses mainly on northeastern New Brunswick, although some news articles from other regions are also indexed. We respected the original format of Mgr. Robichaud’s work, that is, the information is presented in the form of a summary of the article as it appeared in the newspaper and is accessible via three indexes: by people, places, and topics. It is therefore important to realize that what appears in this database is a summary of the article as it appeared in L’Évangéline. For the full article, the newspaper must be consulted, which is available on microfilm at a number of provincial institutions (libraries and archives). Several digitized editions of the newspaper are also available through Google’s “Newspaper Archives” project. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=UY3hNwcQ290C
In terms of figures, here is a breakdown of the volume of information contained in this portal:
- 15,128 article summaries
- 29,733 people are referenced
- 1,533 places are referenced
This component consists of more than 3,400 pages genealogical and historical information accumulated by Mgr. Robichaud during his extensive research activities. Coming from a multitude of sources as varied as newspapers, church records, and collections from various archival institutions, this component also contains information obtained during interviews conducted by Mgr. Robichaud and from private sources.
Information on each family is contained in a PDF file and is presented in alphabetical order by surnames. To facilitate research, each document is accompanied by a table of contents that includes a reference to all of the families listed in the file.