BOURDAGES, RAYMOND, surgeon and merchant; b. 1730 or 1731 in France, son of Pierre Bourdages, a carpenter, and Marie-Anne Chevalier; d. 10 Aug. 1787 at Bonaventure (Que.).
Raymond Bourdages was a master surgeon in 1755, according to a deed of gift between him and his wife signed in Quebec on 17 Oct. 1760. He was probably in attendance on the garrison of Fort La Tour, at the mouth of the Saint John River (N.B.), which was under the command of Charles Deschamps de Boishébert shortly before the deportation of the Acadians. It was in that vicinity early in 1756 that he married Esther, the daughter of René Leblanc, royal notary at Minas (near Wolfville, N.S.).
Bourdages left Acadia during the winter of 1756–57 and moved his family to Ancienne-Lorette (near Quebec), where several of his children were baptized. In 1760 he travelled to France, probably to settle an inheritance. Upon his return in 1762 he established two trading posts on the Baie des Chaleurs, one at Bonaventure and the other at Caraquet (N.B.). He employed his near relatives in his business, in particular his young brothers-in-law Benjamin and Jean-Baptiste Leblanc, who set up at Tracadièche (Carleton, Que.) at this time. Alexis Landry, a cousin by marriage, was already in the region having been a pioneer settler at Caraquet.
It is not known when Bourdages moved his family to his property at Bonaventure; the 1765, 1774, and 1777 censuses do not indicate their presence there. Although he lived at Bonaventure only in the summer months, he took an interest in developing the region; in addition to his trading posts and the 300 acres of land he had purchased around 1762, he owned two mills there which he had built at the request of local residents.
On several occasions Bourdages’s properties were threatened. He was obliged to defend himself first against William Van Felson, a Dutchman who had arrived in 1763 and asserted his right to all the land on the Baie des Chaleurs. Three years later, supported by a survey, Samuel Jan Holland* claimed a grant which took in Bourdages’s land, and it was not until 1825 that Bourdages’s heirs were able to obtain title. The American War of Independence brought further troubles – American privateers set fire to his property and his trading posts, along with those belonging to Charles Robin*. He was taken prisoner in June 1778. The influence of the American agent John Allan* stirred up coastal Micmacs the following year and, on 22 March 1779, 16 of them pillaged Bourdages’s post at Caraquet alleging that a state of war existed. The date of Bourdages’s release by the Americans is unknown, but he was apparently not present at the raid.
Bourdages and Esther Leblanc had 11 children. Their son Louis* repeatedly had to present memoirs on behalf of the heirs to obtain recognition of his ownership of the lands bequeathed by his father’s will.
ANQ-Q, État civil, Catholiques, Notre-Dame de L’Annonciation (L’Ancienne-Lorette), 1750–85; Greffe de Simon Sanguinet, 17 oct. 1760. Archives paroissiales, Saint-Joseph (Carleton, Qué.), Registre des baptêmes, manages et sépultures, 1787. PAC, MG 30, C20, 3. Patrice Gallant, Les registres de la Gaspésie (1752–1850) (6v., [Sayabec, Qué., 1968]). Le Jeune, Dictionnaire, I, 224–25. [Bona Arsenault], Bicentenaire de Bonaventure, 1760–1960 ([Bonaventure, Qué., 1960]); Hist. et généalogie des Acadiens, I, 238–39; II, 897. Geneviève Massignon, Les parlers français d’Acadie (2v., Paris, s.d.), II, 65. F.-J. Audet, “Louis Bourdages,” RSC Trans., 3rd ser., XVIII (1924), sect.i, 73–101.