COMEAU, ANSELM-FRANÇOIS, farmer, businessman, politician, and magistrate; b. 2 Dec. 1793 at Comeauville, N.S., second son of Major François Comeau and Marguerite Melanson; m. in 1824 Marie-Gertrude Amirault (d. 4 Sept. 1865), and they had four sons and five daughters; d. 27 Nov. 1867 at Comeauville.
Anselm-François Comeau was the grandson of François (Maza) Comeau and Félicité Le Blanc, the first family to settle at Comeauville. Although there were no regular schools in the area during his youth, he received instruction from an itinerant school-teacher, Louis Bunel, who taught in the vicinity of Comeauville from 1798 to 1825. A late 19th century local history suggests that Comeau worked at farming, lumbering, and fishing but also had some intellectual interests. The books he kept as clerk of Clare Township from 1831 to 1837 show a good handwriting and precise spelling in both French and English. He owned a small farm and a sawmill, and in 1835 was appointed postmaster of Clare. He also owned 1,000 acres of land in Digby County.
Clare Township was part of the Annapolis County constituency in the assembly until the 1840 general election. When it was given its own seat, Comeau declared himself a Reform candidate. According to the Yarmouth Herald, on 13 Nov. 1840, he was the sole contestant, but in a report two weeks later the same newspaper noted that Frederick Armand Robicheau, a Clare resident who had been a Reform party candidate in Digby Township, had shifted his candidacy to his home riding. The polls favoured Comeau, referred to in newspaper reports as “Samuel Commo.”
He was re-elected in 1843, 1847, and 1851, but apparently took no active part in the assembly debates, usually supporting the Reformers. In 1848 he was appointed magistrate in Clare. He did not stand for re-election at the end of his fourth term in the assembly but was appointed to the Legislative Council in July 1855, the first Acadian in the Maritime provinces to be so honoured. He continued to serve in the council until his death in 1867. The Halifax Novascotian had kind words for him: “No politician can ever leave behind him a fairer record than Anselm Comeau. True always, despite all temptation, to what he believed the right, he has left behind him a memory free from all spot or stain.” Since Comeau’s time the Acadians of Digby County have almost always been Reform or Liberal party supporters.
The record books of the township of Clare are in the possession of Mr Jean-A. Comeau, Little Brook, N.S. Centre acadien, Collège Sainte-Anne (Church Point, N.S.), paroisse de Sainte-Marie, registres et lettres du père Sigogne, 1818–29, 1840–44. Centre d’études acadiennes, université de Moncton (Moncton, N.-B.), Placide Gaudet, “Notes généalogiques sur les familles acadiennes, c.1600–1900” (copy at PAC). N.S., Dept. of Lands and Forests, Land survey map no.6. Novascotian, 3 Dec. 1840, 16 Dec. 1867. Yarmouth Herald (Yarmouth, N.S.), 13 Nov., 5 Dec. 1840; 5 Dec. 1867. Directory of N.S. MLAs, 69. P.-M. Dagnaud, Les Français du sud-ouest de la Nouvelle-Écosse: le R. P. Jean-Mandé Sigogne, apôtre de la baie Sainte-Marie et du cap de Sable, 1799–1844 (Besançon, France, 1905), 175. [J.-]A. Deveau, La ville française (Québec, 1968), 192–94. I. W. Wilson, A geography and history of the county of Digby, Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1900), 319.