The Farmers' Bank of Rustico
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Acadians on PEI

 

Period     1860-1890

Tignish

First Acadian Politicians

Catholics were restricted from voting and participating in Prince Edward Island politics until 1830, but it wasn't until 1854 that an Acadian, Stanislas F. Perry (Poirier) of Tignish, was elected to sit in the Legislative Assembly. Another Acadian from Tignish, Fidele Gaudet, was elected to office four years later.

Stanislas Perry was one of two Acadians, along with Joseph-Octave Arsenault of Abrams Village, to dominate the political arena from 1860 to 1890. Perry held a number of prestigious positions including Speaker of the Legislative Assembly until 1874 when he was elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa, and the first Acadian Member of Parliament. In 1879, he returned to provincial politics as a Liberal and in 1887 he returned to the House of Commons. Perry's political career had its difficult moments. Towards the end of this career he was even accused of not having fought hard enough for the national and religious rights of the Acadians.

First French Language Newspaper

The evolution of the Acadians from 1890-1943 was marked by a series of important projects. One of the most outstanding was the founding of the French language newspaper, L'Impartial, in Tignish. Gilbert Buote and his son François Joseph established the paper with the goal of defending the cause of the Acadians. The editorial in the first issue stated its purpose as:

"To advance the Acadian cause in social, intellectual and moral domains, such is the goal of L'Impartial. The interested of our people will form the object of our most active vigilance whenever there is a question of gaining recognition of our rights." [Arsenault, Georges. Les Acadiens de l'Île 1720-1980, Éditions de l'acadie, 2e édition, 1989, p.157]

The newspaper promoted Acadian nationalism; it published innumerable articles on the French language and served as a forum for readers to exchange ideas. In 1915, the paper disappeared after 50 years of publishing due to financial difficulties.

Co-op Institutes

At the beginning of the 1860s, Acadian farmers set up a co-operative institute known as a granary. The granaries were agricultural-type banks for seed grain that operated in the same manner as a regular bank except that all transactions took place in kind.

Granaries spread quickly and eight were incorporated in Tignish between 1870 and 1878. The co-operative formula proved very useful for Acadian farmers who often had to go into debt to pay for grain in the spring and received praise from Anglophone press. The Examiner wrote:

The French Acadian inhabitants of Egmont Bay gave our small farmers an example of self-help and co-operative effort which they would be well to follow. [...] This industry [the grain bank] does infinite credit to the intelligence and the independence of the Acadian of Egmont Bay...

Fishery

The Reciprocity Treaty signed in 1854 between Britain and the United States was largely responsible for the expansion of the fishery. Tignish benefited the most with the establishment of numerous fishing companies. Due to the shortage of available farmland many young men who wanted to stay on the Island turned to the sea. In 1875, Pascal Poirier describes the situation in Tignish:

"The parish of Tignish is comprised of eight hundred families, almost all of whom are Acadian. The vast majority of the inhabitants are involved in fishing and farming. [...] But the head of the household cannot expand or increase his holdings for the simple reason that there is no more vacant land available. [...] Consequently, fishing has become more or less a necessity. And this state of affairs will become worse as time goes on".

Thursday, 28 September, 1893, edition of the newspaper ?L´Impartial.?

First French Language Newspaper L'Impartial

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