BOURG,  BOURQ,  BOURQUE,   or   BURKE, we may be related!!  Be sure to go to the bottm, there are two more links to sites related to the Bourg and Landry families.

This was a journey about finding my roots. (parts 2 and 3 are linked at the bottom of the page)  It begins in France, August 2001, in a town called…

In 1609 Antoine Bourg was born here.  He later, 1632, went to La Rochelle and set sail for La Haive (La Have) for 4 years, then to Port Royal, Nouvelle France, where he and his wife finally settled.  It turns out that all the Bourg, Bourque, Burke, and Bourq families in Acadia owe their heritage to this man and his wife, Antoinette Landry.  She came from the neighbouring town called Aulnay, two kilometres from Martaizé.

This is the road I took into Martaizé from Loudun.

Judy told me that Antoine may have worked on the estate (Seigneurie) called Aulnay!  There is also a town called Aulnay.  This is the back entrance to the church where Antoine was baptized in Martaizé.  I thought it was the front, but upon further exploration, I discovered otherwise.  I did not notice at the time, but the bottom name on the sign says Maison de L’Acadie. 

This is the front of the church.  It was built in the 1400s.  I took the picture before I knew anything else about Antoine.  It was about 8:30 p.m. and I was delighted to get this far in the day. 

This is the tower of the church.  I am not quite sure what the iron X is doing there, though I feel it must be offering structural support.

I went into the bar (above) found just behind where I stood to take the above picture of the church.  I asked the bartender if the priest was around. He said he was.  I said my roots are here, that I was a descendent of Antoine Bourg.  He knew the name very well.  He smiled.  He then told me to go visit the priest, and that the priest was a very loveable man and would be able to give me information.

I walked across the little street to this stone wall.  There is a gate leading into the priest’s garden to the left of the archway.  That is his house in the background.  He lives there alone.

I walked through a small rounded gate into the yard of the priest.  I rang the bell before entering.  By the time I got half way down the walk to his front door, he was in his doorway, ready to greet me.  We introduced ourselves.  He said his name was Pere Jean Bellion, but that his parishners called him Tonton (honorary, loving uncle).  He recognized my accent.  I told him I had Acadian roots, that Antoine Bourg was my great ancestor.  He smiled so widely, I thought his cheeks were going to disappear.  He said to follow him to the church.  (He apologized for having little time to share with me, he was on his way to dinner and was already running late.)  He opened the door to the church and said, “Look at this!”

He pointed to this plate on the wall dedicated to Antoine.  I could hardly believe my eyes. He then welcomed me home!  The sign basically says that Antoine and Antoinette gave rise to all of the Bourgs (and variations of the same name) in Nouvelle France.  I really did feel quite a tie to the place at this point.  I might say that I was beginning to feel “at home.”

After the jubilation, Pere Bellion smiling and enjoying the moment as much as me, he said I had to get in touch with some others in a nearby town, Chausee.  These people knew some of the history of the area and of the families who left for Nouvelle France.  As a matter of fact, he said that there was a house in the second village over, La Chausee, that was a museum: La Maison D’Acadie.  It turns out that so many people from the region went to Nouvelle France from there, that the people of this region decided to commemorate this event by establishing the museum.  You can see him eagerly looking up phone numbers for me of the people he mentioned.  He apologized for having to leave so early, but told me that I could go into the church and house any time I wanted to take pictures (he showed me where he “hid” the key).  This was the proverbial “Bishop” as described by Victor Hugo in “Les Miserables.” 

If you look closely, you can see the key to the left of the pipe, just above the ring.

Here we are in the church.  I am on the left and Tonton is at the altar.  It still is hard for me to believe that I got to the church where my great ancestor was baptized. 

My sister wanted to know what the town looked like.  She even gave me 4 rolls of film to take pictures.  This is the street behind the wall marking the priest’s garden.

The farmers in this area stack hay so high, that it forms quite a large sight.  This must be some 40 feet high.

Good thing I didn’t need a stamp in a hurry.  Hurry does not seem to be a big part of the vocabulary of the locals.  Some businesses close over lunch till 14:30.  La Maison d’Acadie, on the other hand, only opens at this time. 

A local street…

a beautiful house…

… formerly a girl’s school…

… a wonderful home leading to Aulnay and having a very Roman feeling… 

Tonton came out this doorway to meet us.

This is a view of the garden he tends opposite his front door.

Of course, no garden is complete without roses!

The next day, after having called the main person on the note that Pere Bellion gave me, Mme Michčle Touret :President of La Maison de l’Acadie.   After speaking with her, we headed for Aulay.

I figured, this looks like an estate (seigneurie), maybe the one that Antoine worked for?…It is between Martaizé and Aulnay.

This is the back of the estate.  Horse paddocks are in the distance, as are stables.

 

Here is another candidate for the estate that may have employed Antoine. This is in Aulney itself.

We saw a sign which read: Chateau de la Bonnetiere.  Being too early for La Maison de l’Acadie, we decided to explore.  Perhaps it would be free!

It was!  And it was beautiful.  We parked on the left and spoke to a man up to his arms in granite dust wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  He noticed my accent and suggested that I sounded like an Acadian.  I told him I was and that I was looking for my roots.  He asked who that might be.  I said Antoine Bourg.  He smiled and said he knew of Antoine.  He suggested I go to Martaizé to investigate the church.  I told him I had been there the day before.  He smiled again and seem very pleased.  Then he basically said what Tonton said: Welcome home!

Boy, I thought!  I wish this were my home!  He told us to because the lady who gives tours at La Maison de l’Acadie would soon be arriving.  Her name is Michele Landry. Like Tonton, he knew that the Landrys and the Bourgs were related since Antoine married Antoinette Landry.  Twenty minutes later he came to the tower containing the Acadian museum and said that Michele was just pulling in.  He led us all to the shady side of the chateau where he had a large, white garden tent erected.  He unzipped it and bade us to sit.  He appeared moments later with a tray full of drinks: pernot, water, apple cidre, whisky, and a few other drinks.  He was the owner.

 

He introduced Michele to me and Les and we chatted for half an hour.  It was great.  At one point, Michele pointed out that there was a genealogical society at the University of Moncton, beneath the library.  At this point, M. de la Bouillerie Baudouin began to laugh quite heartily.  He found it ironic that I came to France to find information that was also available in Canada, just a couple of hours down the road from where I live!  Naturally, he was happy that I got to see the area in which Antoine lived.

M. de la Bouillerie Baudouin’s château was just before La Chausee.

Michele was just getting the video on La Nouvelle France ready.  There were four of us in the crowd.  She spoke English for the couple from Louisiana.

Mme Michčle Touret surprised me by coming by with this young man in toe, Jules Bourg: he is my cousin!   She has researched the Bourg line completely in France.  She thought it would be good for both of us to meet.  That was great!  We didn’t get to talk a lot, we didn’t quite know where to begin.  We more or less stuck to the pleasantries, but it was quite a thrill for me.

This lady gave us a tour of the church behind the museum.  She let me take her picture.  I suggested she look hard at work.  She agreed, and we both giggled.

I am holding the journals written by the Antoine Bourg society.  It is published by his descendants.  They want as many of the descendants as possible involved.

This church was bulletin the 800s.  The original door was blocked off.  Another feature is that the steps lead down into the church, not up into the church.

 

A plaque to Isaac de Razilly.  He organized many families to leave the area for Nouvelle France.

 

This is a wonderful shot of the altar inside the same church, the one behind the Maison d'Acadie museum.  It turns out that Tonton is the parish priest here too.  It turns out he ministers 22 parishes and has been involved in Martaizé since he was 29 (he is now 72 and looks 52).

 

Here are the Robichaux.  I translated the tour of the church for them and filled them in on what was going on in the area.  They were very grateful  After our tour of the church we all went back to Martaizé to explore the graveyard headstones for clues of our relations.  We had no luck finding family names there.  But there must be Bourgs buried somewhere in the area… This may call for a return trip!

All in all, I had a most wonderful visit and hope to return some day to explore a little more, and just to feel at home in another place again.

See the part of Acadie (in Nova Scotia) where Antoine and Antoinette arrived.  It is called Port Royal.

See the part of Acadie (in Nova Scotia)  which is its cultural heart.  It is called Grand Pre. 

You can email me at waymac_007@yahoo.com