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Home | Heritage & Culture | Bathurst : History and Changes

Bathurst : History and Changes

The Parish of the Holy Family changed its name in 1812, while the Village of Nepisiguit changed its name in 1826. It is to be regretted that these new names have caused us to forget to a certain extent the historical past of our area. At the beginning of the whole Canadian colonization, the rivers and the bays were the first to be named: the villages that sprang up, usually at the mouths of rivers, took the same names as the rivers. The missionaries, however, took care to dedicate their churches or chapels to a Holy Patron. It so happens the first settlement at Bathurst bore the name of “Parish of Nepisiguit” (cf. The registers of the Parish of the Holy Family going back to 1798). The first chapel built in the area at Ferguson’s Point, present location of the Gowan Brae Golf and Country Club, was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. This was the settlement of Nicolas Denys. It disappeared with its founder, but was transferred to another site, the point where to-day stands the church of the Holy Family. This new chapel was placed under the patronage of St. Peter, and the village bore the name of St. Peter, but more often, of Nepisiguit. This spot is truly the cradle of the whole area, comprising to-day Bathurst and its surroundings.

In the register of the Holy Family Parish, the missionary François Huot, on the 5th of October 1812, refers for the first time to the “Parish of the Holy Family of Nepisiguit. The preceding year, Monsignor Plessis of Quebec visited the shores of the Baie des Chaleurs. From Caraquet, he proceded to Nepisiguit by canoe and historians give us the details of that trip. Having left Caraquet on the first of July 1811, he had been in hopes of reaching Nepisiguit in time to celebrate Mass the next day, Feast of the Visitation, but a prolonged calm delayed his arrival until Wednesday. The Harbour was entered into through a deep but narrow passage. Four Rivers empty the harbour: the Great River Nepisiguit, the Little River, the Middle River and the Tetagouche. It was between the last two mentioned , on an elevation, that the church known as St. Peter was situated. The future Town of Bathurst arose on the other point, opposite, which for a long time bore the name of St. Peter Village (Chronicles of the the Most Ancient Churches of Acadia, by Rev. Father Pacifique, O.M.I., P.11).


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