DOUCET (Dowset), PIERRE (Pitre) ship’s captain and merchant; b. 16 May 1750 at Annapolis Royal (N.S.), son of François Doucet and Marguerite Petitot, dit Saint-Sceine (Sincennes); m. 1773 Marie-Marguerite Le Blanc at Salem, Massachusetts; d. after September 1799.
In 1755 François Doucet and his family were deported to Boston and settled in Salem. Like most Acadian families exiled in Massachusetts, the Doucets were in dire poverty, and the children were soon placed in foster homes. Pierre Doucet was adopted by a sea captain who instructed him in navigation and saw to it that he received an education. In 1773 Doucet married and settled with his wife in Casquebaye (Portland, Maine), where his first child, Olivier, was born on 20 Dec. 1774.
Two years earlier Doucet’s father had left Massachusetts and, along with Pierre Le Blanc and some others, settled along St Mary’s Bay in the district of Clare (N.S.). In the spring of 1775 Pierre Doucet bought from Joseph Gravois, one of these settlers, a tract of 360 acres near Sissiboo (Weymouth). Gravois had already built a house there, and Doucet and his wife moved in. Their second child was born there in 1776.
It is not known when Doucet received captain’s papers, but by the time of his arrival in St Mary’s Bay he was commanding vessels. In December 1775 he sailed from Halifax in his schooner Eunice, bound for Grenada. In the years that followed he established a triangular trade between Nova Scotia, the West Indies, and Boston. He usually carried lumber, potatoes, apples, and dried cod to the West Indies, whence he sailed for Boston with a mixed cargo of sugar, rum, and molasses. From there he returned to St Mary’s Bay with some of the West Indian cargo together with cloth, utensils, building materials, and flour. These articles he sold in his warehouse at Belliveau Cove. Raw materials and manufactures were not his only cargo; in August 1791 he cleared Kingston (Jamaica) in his schooner Peggy, bound for Havana with ten slaves. By 1795 the French revolution and the consequent activities of French privateers had disrupted the pattern of his trade, and he turned his interest to local freighting operations. In that year he planned, according to James Moody*, to carry coal between Cape Breton and Halifax “for the use of the government, on freight.”
In spite of his travels as a sea captain, Doucet still found time for the affairs of the Acadian community at St Mary’s Bay. He was a major in the Acadian militia of Annapolis County in 1794, and in March 1797 he and some other Clare inhabitants petitioned the government for aid in making and repairing roads.
Although it has been written that Doucet was drowned near the Grand Passage in 1798, it is quite possible that the report was erroneous. In September 1799 Simeon Perkins* noted in his diary that “Capt. Dowset of Sissiboo, puts on here [Liverpool, N.S.] in his way to Halifax.”
Credit is due Doucet for having shown the people of Clare the opportunities offered by the type of commerce in which he engaged. Many followed his example, and the district of Clare prospered for a century from this triangular trade.
Archives du Centre acadien, Collège Sainte-Anne (Church Point, N.-É.), Pierre Doucet, généalogie. PAC, MG 30, C20, 6, pp.1435–1, 1435–2, 1438–1. Private archives, Adolphe Doucet (Belliveau Cove, N.S.), Pierre Doucet papers (copies at Archives du Centre acadien). Perkins, Diary, 1797–1803 (Fergusson), 76, 169, 191. Antoine Bernard, Histoire de la survivance acadienne, 1755–1935 (Montréal, 1935), 238. P.-M. Dagnaud, Les Français du sud-ouest de la Nouvelle Écosse . . . (Besançon, France, 1905). I. W. Wilson, A geography and history of the county of Digby, Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1900). Placide Gaudet, “Unknown yet prominent,” Halifax Herald, 10 Nov. 1897, 1, 5.