SAVOIE, ROMAIN (he sometimes signed Savoy), office holder, jp, and politician; b. 25 Oct. 1847 in Neguac, N.B., son of Théotime Savoie and Sara Robichaud; m. there 6 Oct. 1873 Elizabeth Breau, and they had five sons and four daughters who survived him; d. there 18 Jan. 1914.
Romain Savoie was a great-grandson of Otho Robichaux*, who led the Acadians in Neguac after the British deportation, and he inherited obvious leadership qualities from him. At the age of 24 he was chosen to be the agent in charge of the 1871 census in Alnwick Parish; thus he became the first Acadian there to enumerate his French-speaking fellow citizens.
Savoie had been given a fairly good education, for the most part in English, but he had a fine grasp of written French. He was appointed a justice of the peace on 15 Jan. 1879 and also became a commissioner of the parish court. These offices he retained until his death in 1914. In the performance of his duties as a jp he was noted for patience and efforts to get adversaries reconciled. He also discharged many other functions or responsibilities of a public nature in the course of his lifetime. At the parish level he had served as a constable about 1873 and as an assessor of rates in 1874–75. On 1 Dec. 1878 he became the postmaster in the small community of Rivière-des-Caches, near Neguac, and he was still serving in this position at the time of his death. Savoie was commissioner of crown lands for 30 years. In this capacity he vigorously promoted settlement in the regions adjacent to Neguac, thereby preventing depopulation through emigration to the United States or elsewhere. In addition to being road inspector, coroner, and secretary to the trustees in bankruptcy in Neguac, Savoie was secretary of two school boards, one from 1885 at Rivière-des-Caches, and the other from 1886 at Barryville, retaining these offices for the rest of his life.
Romain Savoie had the honour of being the first Acadian in Northumberland County to run for public office and be successful. In 1876 he was elected a councillor for Alnwick Parish, a position he held until 1884 and again in 1886, 1891, 1894–95, and 1900–1. He saw both municipal and provincial politics as a way of working to get the rights of Acadians recognized. His fellow citizens had encouraged him to be a candidate in Northumberland in the 1908 provincial election, but he suggested that a younger person, teacher Guillaume L. (Louis-Guillaume) Allain, stand. When Allain was elected, Savoie’s joy and pride knew no bounds. “This is one of the greatest victories for us Acadians that has ever happened in our history,” he told his friend Placide Gaudet* on 26 March 1908. For the Acadians of his country, as members of a minority, it was indeed a great victory.
An amateur historian when the spirit moved him, Savoie collected a rich oral tradition from the old folk of Neguac and he preserved it in written form; he also copied out the first registers of Neguac parish. His competence in this field would be recognized by William Francis Ganong*, who noted that “Mr Romain Savoy of Rivière du Cache, a well-known authority on all matters concerning this region, has given me a great deal . . . of valuable information.” The Acadian genealogist Placide Gaudet had also obtained much information from Savoie about the history and genealogy of the Neguac region, as their correspondence shows. Always eager for information, Savoie regularly received the reports of the Public Archives of Canada, the Department of Marine and Fisheries, and the auditor general. Unfortunately, all the old documents he had accumulated disappeared in the fire that destroyed his home after his death.
A great patriot, Romain Savoie was eager for the newspaper Le Moniteur acadien to succeed. “[It is] the first French newspaper that has defended our rights as Acadians. . . . I hope you will receive enough encouragement among our true Acadians,” he wrote to Ferdinand Robidoux, its owner, on 8 May 1892. Savoie also actively supported the newspaper L’Évangéline when it first appeared [see Valentin Landry]. The Société l’Assomption, an Acadian mutual aid society, counted him among its most loyal members; he was also president of the local branch of the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association in Canada. Savoie died at the age of 66, on 18 Jan. 1914, having spent his life serving his fellow citizens of Neguac and Northumberland County.
A photograph of Romain Savoie and his wife Elizabeth Breau is reproduced in Dictionnaire biographique du nord-est du Nouveau-Brunswick (6 cahiers parus, [Bertrand; Shippagan, N.-B.], 1983– ), 3e cahier: 57. Arch. de l’Évêché de Bathurst, N.-B., Neguac, RBMS (copies at the Centre d’Études Acadiennes, Univ. de Moncton, N.-B.). Centre d’Études Acadiennes, Fonds Placide Gaudet, 1.71-2, 18; Fonds F.-J. Robidoux, 4.1-2. NA, RG 31, C1, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, Alnwick, N.B. (mfm. at PANB and Soc. Hist. Nicolas-Denys, Centre de Documentation, Shippagan). PANB, RS113/7/6–35. Soc. Hist. Nicolas-Denys, Centre de Documentation, Index des mariages de Neguac, 1807–1920. L’Évangéline (Moncton), 28 janv. 1914. W. F. Ganong, “History of Neguac and Burnt Church,” Acadiensis (Saint John), 8 (1908): 278.