ROBICHAUX (Robichaud, Robicheau), JEAN-BAPTISTE, fisherman; b. c. 1751 in Village des Cadet (Great Village), N.S., son of Joseph Robichaux, dit Cadet, and Claire Le Blanc; d. 4 March 1808 in Grand Chipagan (Shippegan), N.B.
Jean-Baptiste Robichaux’s father came from Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N. S.) but settled in the region of Cobequid (near Truro) at Village des Cadet after his marriage in 1726. Eleven children were born there; Jean-Baptiste was the tenth. Although many of their neighbours responded in the early 1750s to the efforts made by the French government and its agents to persuade Acadians living under British rule to remove to French territory [see Jean-Louis Le Loutre*], the Robichaux family remained in Nova Scotia; their distance from Annapolis Royal and the presence of French troops at Louisbourg, Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), and Fort Beauséjour (near Sackville, N.B.) perhaps gave them a sense of security on their lands. Nevertheless, they had eventually to take the weary road to exile. About the time of the deportation in 1755 [see Charles Lawrence] – whether before or after is unclear – Joseph Robichaux took his family by the “emigrants’ road” to Tatamagouche, and then by ship to Pointe Prime (Point Prim) on Île Saint-Jean (P.E.I.). It was there that many Acadians from Cobequid, as well as the former parish priest, Jacques Girard*, had settled.
The surrender of Louisbourg to British forces under Jeffery Amherst* and Edward Boscawen* in July 1758 brought with it the capitulation of Île Saint-Jean. In spite of an appeal by Pierre Cassiet and Jean Biscaret, two of the missionaries to the Acadians on the island, it was decided that Colonel Lord Rollo* should proceed with plans to deport the inhabitants. Sent to France, the Robichaux family arrived at Saint-Servan in Brittany at the onset of winter, after a crossing that proved fatal for their father. They settled in the tiny village of Pleudihen on the outskirts of Saint-Servan and, like other Acadian families, were supported for some years by the French government. But they had difficulty adapting to their new life and dreamed of returning home.
On 4 Feb. 1773, at Saint-Servan, Jean-Baptiste married a fellow exile, Félicité Cyr (Sire); they were to have 15 children. At that time the Jersey merchants of the firm Robin, Pipon et Cie were eager to sign on the Acadian families living on the coasts of France in order to obtain a stable work-force for their settlements in Gaspé and on Cape Breton Island, since the young people from Jersey did not seem to want to take up permanent residence there. Early in the spring of 1774 Jean-Baptiste and his brothers went to Jersey, and in April the Acadian contingent left Saint Helier on two ships, the Hope and the Bee, bound for Charles Robin*’s establishment at Paspébiac in Gaspé, which they reached the following month. Jean-Baptiste and his wife settled at Bonaventure with their eldest child, Jean-Baptiste, who had been born on 16 Nov. 1773 at Saint-Servan. There they lived in straitened circumstances on his ten-acre plot, completely dependent on the company, Charles Robin having encouraged the Acadians to concentrate on fishing rather than farming. Unable to gain secure possession even of this small property, Robichaux contemplated joining the Acadian families south of the Baie des Chaleurs. About 1790 he crossed the bay with his family to settle at Grand Chipagan, taking up residence on Pointe Brûlé to the west of the harbour. He was the first settler from Grand Chipagan to petition the government for title to his land, in 1798. His rights were recognized, but he was not long to enjoy peaceful possession of his property. He died on 4 March 1808, and was buried the next day in the old cemetery at Caraquet. His widow went to live at Caraquet in the home of one of her daughters, where she died some years later.
Jean-Baptiste Robichaux’s story clearly recalls the numerous moves that Acadian families had to endure at the time of the deportation. He was one of the first Acadians to settle at Grand Chipagan and a pioneer of that locality. His brothers all established themselves in New Brunswick, Isidore being an early settler at Pokemouche (Inkerman), and Joseph, Pierre, Michel, and Charles the founders of Saint-Charles (Kent County).
AAQ, 311 CN, I–VI. AD, Ille-et-Vilaine (Rennes), État civil, Saint-Servan, 1762; 4 févr. 1773. AP, Saint-Bonaventure (Bonaventure), Reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures; Saint-Joseph (Carleton), Reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures. Arch. paroissiales, Caraquet, N.-B., Reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures de l’Acadie, 1768–99. BL, Add. mss 21862: 17b (transcript at PAC). Northumberland County Registry Office (Newcastle, N.B.), 8: 23–25, testament de J.-B. Robichaux. Placide Gaudet, “Généalogie des Acadiens, avec documents,” PAC Rapport, 1905, II, iiie partie: 333. Patrice Gallant, Les registres de la Gaspésie (1752–1850) (6v., [Sayabec, Québec, 1968]), 5: 454–56. Donat Robichaud, Les Robichaud: histoire et généalogie (Bathurst, N.-B., ), 86–90.