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Storms & Shipwrecks of l'Ardoise

Originally compiled by Paul Pâté, 1982

Photo: Chapel Cove - l'Ardoise 1930s

Source: Raymond G. Sampson

There was a storm.

The exact date he does not recall. It was in the years that followed the first World War.

People here were nearly all fishermen who anchored their vessels off LaBille’s Cape. The gale came from the North-East and was great. The boats were battered to pieces on the shoreline. There were also some buildings damaged and barns, but everything was repaired from scratch, and before the fall, the boats were ready to fish again. This gale was so bad that the boats came ashore dragging their anchors.

There was also an earthquake in 1931. It did not do much damage - only the swaying of houses and barns. A result of this earthquake was a tidal wave. D.K. Matheson’s field had been flooded. The area around Mr. Samson’s had not been flooded because it was higher ground. When the earthquake occurred, his mother was milking the cow in the barn - it did not take long to get out of there.

Art: Painting by Georgette Burke of LaBille's Cape, L'Ardoise

Source: Annie (Walter) Mombourqutte.

She remembers the storm mentioned above where the boats came ashore dragging their anchors. She also remembers when the bell in the church was hit. It was just like a meteorite she said and her mother-in-law was in church for benediction on that Sunday afternoon.

It was just one flash of lightning, and then there was a downpour of rain. When the lightning hit the steeple, the bell fell and landed on beams. People attending the mass scrambled to get out. They pushed each other in their panic. Some fell and were walked on. Her husband, Walter, went to make sure his mother was alright and to take her home. He had to wear oilskins it was raining so hard.

They took the old bell down and replaced it with a new bell. They blessed it in a cemetery. The people of l’Ardoise thought that the old bell, which was cracked, would be erected outside the church and rung when a person between the age of eighty and ninety would die. This is what Father Boudreau had told them. However, when Father LeBlanc came, he sold it for junk. This shocked the people of l’Ardoise.

Source: Mrs. Mary Nancy Pâté

She remembers a thunderstorm. It was very windy with rain and lightning and thunder. It broke windows and doors off some houses.

One Sunday afternoon there were a lot of people at Church for the funeral of “le vieux Dan Barron”. They had just got out of the church with the coffin when the lightning hit the church! It tore the steeple apart. Everyone had gotten very frightened because they thought it was some sort of explosion.

Source: Mr Wilfred Pâté

He remembers there was a big wind that had thrown a lot of debris around. All the boats in LaBille's Cape were wrecked. On Sunday they went to pull the boats up that had come ashore. He was 14 years old when this happened.

Source: Raymond Samson

Storms were very common in those days. One night a storm hit that sent the ships inland. There was no place where the ships were safe except maybe for St. Peter’s. The men would have to hold the ship down with new ropes and moorings preventing the ship from drifting until the storm passed.

After a storm, Jose Jones would walk along the shore to look for any sign of a wreck. This one time he noticed some shining pieces in the water. When he reached one, he found it to be a gold coin! It was said that he sold quite a few of these pieces to Dr. Bisset of St. Peter’s who is said to have been a collector. There were also other items he had salvaged from other wrecks.

Two cannons can still be found at his house today.


Source: Mr Edgar Cote

There were three that he can remember. The St. Louis was loaded with general cargo. The vessel struck the shoal of the ponds near Grand Greve.

The E.A. Skribbener, loaded with coal, struck the Horse Heads out in the bay. The Horse Heads is located halfway between Ile Madame and Grand Greve.

The third was the Juan, which was loaded with lumber. It went down in St Esprit. It broke up and the lumber came ashore. A lot of houses were built with it.

A vessel went aground at Cape La Round. Three men were drowned. A Middleton man was killed off Sable Island. He does not remember what year.

Source: James Landry

Once there was a ship that had gotten wrecked during a bad storm. It was loaded with leaf tobacco (punchens). They used to roll the tobacco up, wash it, soak it in molasses and black tea and smoke it like they would a cigarette.

Do you have details or photos to add to this story? I'd love to know! Just leave me a message in the comments, or email me:

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