ARSENEAULT / DOUCET
Story written by: Leo Doucet
On a June night six people were sitting in the large
kitchen/dining room of the old farm house discussing politics, the
economy (although it was not referred to as the 'economy' then), and
just about everything else. My sister and I endured as best we could,
being six and eight years old we did not dare interrupt the older folks.
We were visiting at Grandma's in Balmoral, New Brunswick. My two Uncles, Cyrille and Armand were there and from time to time they took part in the conversation. My Dad came from a long line of semi serious Liberals, Grandma, (On Mom's side) also had been a Liberal until a relative was elected as a Conservative MLA in the Provincial Legislature, and then she felt she had to support him. Dad took advantage of this to sometimes call her a "turncoat" and things would heat up accordingly.
We visited often and always Dad would tease Grandma. Grandpa would laugh at all of this politics was not his fort and he would indulge himself by siding with whomever was winning the argument at any given moment. Mom would give Dad heck on the way home for the things he had said but Dad would always say he was just joking and liked getting Grandma upset. Upset or not Grandma could hold her own with anyone, tiny in stature she was imbued with more intelligence and common sense than the rest put together.
Times were hard, the country was in the grips of the Depression. Few
people had jobs. That night at Grandma's the conversation somehow
changed to what it would be like to have lots of money, not an unusual
conversation for the place or the times. One of my Uncles said he had
heard of a family in the community that had tried to find the treasure
but were either unsuccessful or were keeping very quiet about it.
The 'treasure', concerned a story that a few of the older folks shared that
implied that gold and other valuables had been buried near the seacoast
about four miles away. The conversation took on a more serious tone and
I was no longer bored. Dad asked Grandma to repeat again what she had
heard from her father and grandfather about the treasure. We all knew
there had been seafaring folks in the family, some being Masters of
their own sailing vessels. One of these vessels traded as far as the
Bosphorus in the winter and
They had known about a French supply ship that had been chased by an
English Privateer but had escaped into the Baie des Chaleurs, that body
of water on the western end of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The English
ship knew the French vessel was somewhere in the Baie, and had lain in
wait off Carleton on the South shore of the Gaspe Peninsula. Mount
Carleton at 3000 feet is close to the shore and provides a commanding
view of the Bay.
The story goes that the French Captain landed not far from Dalhousie
and had buried a treasure of gold and silver. Grandma's family had known
the exact location from the description given by her Father and
Grandfather. Further, one of them had, or had seen a copy of a portion
of the French ship's log on which markings made references to small
rocks that could only have been the 'Bonne Ami Rocks', just offshore
east of Dalhousie. Of course these seafaring folk knew the Baie des
Chaleurs well and Grandma was absolutely sure she knew the location. She
was however skeptical that anyone would find the treasure. Too many
people had known about it. It had been buried, she thought around 1780.
A long discussion followed, and finally it was decided that the matter
should be investigated more thoroughly. The Uncle who had brought the
matter up was delegated to tactfully obtain as much additional
information as possible. The hour being late we got ready to go home,
not however before being cautioned that the matter of the treasure was
not to be discussed with anyone.
It was difficult for me at that age to keep a secret of that magnitude
to myself. School was not yet over and I found opportunities to discuss
with my school friends stories of 'Pirate Treasures'. It rained for the
next few days so we had recess in class. I asked the teacher if she knew
of any stories about pirate treasures. She replied that she had a book
for children on the subject and would read from it at the next recess.
That got everybody in the class talking about it including vague
references to buried treasures along the Northeast coast of New
Brunswick. "Our" buried treasure however was not specifically mentioned
and although I felt I knew more about such matters I managed to keep
quiet about what had transpired at Grandma's house.
A few evenings later we went to visit again. It was not long before the
subject came up. Someone said they knew of somebody who had a devining
rod, one that could detect gold and silver. No one knew how to get the
owner to lend this tool without imparting at least some information.
Finally, Grandma went up to the attic and came back with two egg sized
rocks that showed a gold coloured streak. She explained that an uncle of
hers had prospected and then worked in a Colorado gold mine and had
brought back some samples of ore, two pieces of which he had given her.
She suggested that the devining rod might be borrowed to verify that it
could detect precious metals. It was the opinion of the group that a
devining rod did not work the same for everybody, but by hiding the ore
sample each person could have a try and the most successful chosen as
the carrier of the tool if an attempt to find the treasure was made.
Thus another evening passed.
The next time we were at Grandma's the first and only topic was the
treasure. Were they going to really try their luck?. To Grandma it was
not a matter of luck, She was sure it had been there, whether it was
still there or not was the only question. There was only one way to find
out. The next day being Sunday Dad could take the time to make a quiet
visit to the site. Both my Uncles, my Grandfather and I went with Dad
that Sunday evening. In about half an hour we were within a few hundred
feet of the supposed site that was just off Highway 11 where we had
stopped. Several cars went by, some of which on recognizing Dad's car
slowed and asked if we needed help. Dad said no, they were just going to
have a drink.
The site, particularly if one visualizes the area as it must have
looked in the 1780's was a natural one. The requirements for the owners
of the treasure would have been to find a place that was distinctive,
easy to travel to, and have definable landmarks that would be visible
from some distance at sea and be away from habitation. It must not be
forgotten that with a superior ship, at least in terms of fighting
ability, although out of sight for the moment meant for them that there
was no time to lose. The supply laden ship could not have sailed much
farther, they were at the mouth of the Restigouche River and sailing up
that river would have meant almost certain destruction. For example the
French fleet that sailed up this waterway in 1763 had been bottled up
and destroyed by an English fleet off Pointe a la Garde, only 12 miles
away. That naval engagement incidently ended the "Seven years war
between France and England".
It is widely believed that buried treasures are haunted and so the
supernatural creeps in. It was believed for instance that in the
vicinity of where the treasure is buried no one is allowed to talk, not
even whisper. One therefore has to know what his role is to be since
there will be no instructions given once one enters the (haunted?)
territory. It was almost dark now and it was decided that we had seen
enough. I was scared that they would go into the woods and leave me on
the road alone.
This page was designed by Irene Doyle Feb. 1998