BERGIER, CLERBAUD, initiator of a project for a shore fishery in Acadia and one of the leading members of the Compagnie de la Pêche sédentaire de l’Acadie formed in 1682; lieutenant for the king in Acadia in 1684; fl. c. 1680–85.
Bergier, a Huguenot merchant of La Rochelle, desired to establish a company to promote fishing and trading in Acadia, and in 1680 obtained permission from Nicolas Denys to visit Acadia. Bergier and his associates being Huguenots, the grand vicar of Quebec, M. Dudouyt, protested that their project would be contrary to the interests of the state and religion and to the intentions of the king in founding the colony. To meet this objection, Bergier associated himself with Gabriel Gautier, Boucher, and de Mantes, of Paris. Organized into a company by the Marquis de Chevry [see Duret], Bergier and his associates received from the king of France on 28 Feb. 1682 a grant on the coast of Acadia and the Saint John River as a suitable area for fishery and trade. Bergier then proceeded to Acadia to select a base of operations.
Favourably impressed by its climate, its soil, its timber, and its advantages for fishing, he chose Chedabouctou (now Guysborough), left men to clear land and erect buildings, and went back to Paris to report. Returning to Acadia in 1683, he sowed wheat, oats, and barley, and planted vines and fruit trees at Chedabouctou and urged the inhabitants of Port-Royal to engage in fishing. Chedabouctou had previously been the site of one of the fishing establishments of Nicolas Denys; his son Richard and son-in-law Michel Leneuf* de La Vallière still occasionally hunted and fished there.
The trading monopoly of the fishing company was disputed by the heirs of Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour, Menou d’Aulnay, and Emmanuel Le Borgne. Attempts to enforce it drew protests from various quarters and led to conflict with New Englanders, for La Vallière, seigneur of Beaubassin (Chignecto), who had been placed in charge of Acadia in 1678, had been selling licences to New Englanders to fish along the coast and use its harbours. Early in 1684 the Conseil d’État authorized the Company of Acadia to seize foreign vessels trading or fishing along the coast, and La Vallière was dismissed from his post and forbidden to issue licences to the New Englanders, although the intendant, Jacques de Meulles*, had ordered La Vallière in 1683 to prevent Bergier from establishing his fishery without express permission. By a decree of 14 April 1684, Bergier was appointed lieutenant for the king in Acadia for three years. About this time he and his son – and agent – Bergier Deshormeaux (or Des Ormeaux) came into conflict with La Vallière, his son Alexandre Leneuf* de Beaubassin, and Richard Denys (Deshormeaux’s procès-verbal, 12 mai 1685, AN, Col., C11D, 1, f. 192). Bergier himself was accused of trying to engage in the fur trade and in trafficking with the English.
Bergier seems to have played a less important role in Acadia after this year, for Charles Duret de Chevry de La Boulaye replaced him as lieutenant for the king and another merchant, Antoine Héron, acted as director of the fishing company in La Rochelle. In 1686, after repeated requests, Gabriel Gautier, a member of the company, received a grant of fishing rights at Cape Breton, Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island), and the Îles de la Madeleine for a period of 20 years. The company extended its operations to Port-Royal in 1687. In that year there were 150 persons at Chedabouctou, 80 of whom were fishermen. Bergier’s protests at the French court against Denys and La Vallière were rewarded in April 1687 with the Cape Breton concession, which had been Nicolas Denys’s. (In compensation, Denys was given a large seigneury at Miramichi.)
The Company of Acadia suffered heavy losses in 1688, when Chedabouctou was pillaged by New Englanders, and in 1690, when Fort Saint-Louis was demolished by Capt. Cyprian Southack* following Phip’s capture of Port-Royal. After the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 it endeavoured to revive its operations in Acadia. In 1698 it established a fishing station at Chibouctou (the future Halifax), but its employees soon absconded to Boston or to Port Razoir (later Port Roseway and now Shelburne). Thereafter, for a few years, it had to content itself with a dwindling trade at Port-Royal, until all its effects were returned to France in a king’s ship in 1703.
Among the many sources on the company and Bergier are: AN, Col., B, 13, f. 186; C11A, 1, f. 211 (the Bergier here referred to, a bourgeois of La Rochelle who attempted to establish sedentary fishing in Acadia from 1645, may be Bergier’s father); C11A, 6; C11D, 1, passim; 2, f. 165; Col., E, 277; E1, 536B, ff. 493–94; Marine, liasse 21; B2, 50, 52, 56, 57; B3, 62, 64, 69. BN, MS, NAF 9283 (Margry), f. 35; NAF 21395 (Arnoul), f. 21. Public Archives of Nova Scotia, MS docs. II, 18–20, 27–28, 40, 45; III, 14, 24. Recensement de 1686 (Acadie).
Coll. de manuscrits relatifs à la Nouv.-France, I; II, 361–62, 368, 378. Denys, Description and natural history (Ganong), 13, 16, 40. Le sieur de Dièreville, Relation of a voyage to Port Royal in Acadia or New France, ed. J. C. Webster (Champlain Soc., XX, 1933). La Morandière, Hist. de la pêche française de la morue, I, 356–62. Mémoires des commissaires, II, 327; and Memorials of the English and French commissaries, I, 614. PRO, CSP, Col., 1681–85, p. 688; 1685–88 nos. 545, 925.
Antoine Bernard, Le drame acadien (Montréal, 1936), 120–21, 124, 140–44, 185–86. “Chedabouctou, d’après l’Intendant de Meulles (1686),” BRH, XXXV (1929), 304. Roger Comeau, “Nicolas Denys, pionnier Acadien,” RHAF, IX (1955–56), 31–54. Robert Le Blant, Le baron de St-Castin (Dax, s. d.), 44. Bruce T. McCully, “The New England-Acadia fishery dispute and the Nicholson mission of August, 1687,” Essex Institute Hist. Coll., XCVI (1960), 277–90. “Richard Denys, sieur de Fronsac, and his settlements in northern New Brunswick,” Historical-geographical documents relating to New Brunswick, ed. W. F. Ganong, 4, N.B. Hist. Soc. Coll., [III], no.7 (1907), 15–16. Robert Rumilly, Histoire des Acadiens (2v., Montréal, 1935), I, 119. Webster, Acadia, 124, 206–8.