A new true life fiction novel from Cape Breton University Press chronicles the remarkable life of one of the founding families of Chéticamp. The book’s release will be celebrated in Louisbourg, Chéticamp, St. Peter’s, and Petit-de-Grat this month.
The title character of Jeanne Dugas of Acadia, was born of Acadian parents at Louisbourg in 1731. For more than thirty years, she and her husband, their family and extended families, lived under the threat of capture and deportation by the British militia and of attacks by pirates and privateers.
At various times the family lived in Louisbourg, Grand Pré (NS), Port Toulouse and Mira (Cape Breton), Île Saint-Jean (PEI), Remshic (NS), Restigouche (NB) and back again – sometimes more than once – before being captured and imprisoned on George’s Island (Halifax harbour), where three of their four children died.
When released, the family sought refuge on Île Madame (Cape Breton) and eventually found peace and permanence in the area now known as Chéticamp.
Written by Chéticamp native Cassie Deveaux Cohoon, Jeanne Dugas of Acadia is, in many ways, the story of the Acadians. Cohoon’s Acadian roots go back to the early days of Grand Pré on her father’s side and Beaubassin (now Amherst) on her mother’s. She has lived in New York City and Paris, France, and now makes her home in Montréal, Québec. She has worked as a freelance journalist and written family histories. Her first novel, Severine, told the story of a fictitious heroine of Acadia. In Jeanne Dugas of Acadia, the author tells the story of her own ancestor. One of Jeanne Dugas’ granddaughters married a son of Augustin Deveau, another founder of Chéticamp and the author’s paternal ancestor.
Ms. Cohoon will be in Cape Breton to launch her new novel in Louisbourg (Fortress Louisbourg, June 14, Chéticamp (16th, 7pm, La Salle des retraités), St. Peter’s (17th, 6:30pm, Nicolas Denys Museum) and Petit-de-Grat (18th, 6:30pm, Petit-de-Grat library).