Lucille(toc) & Elizabeth Samson(Catoux)with grandmother Marie Bonin a Thomas Boudreau (Toc)
'Les Sobriquets' (meaning 'nicknames'), is an age old custom within the Acadian communities of Richmond County and pre-dominantly Isle Madame, to label an individual or family with a sort of alias.
Chosen to describe individuals or families by the region inhabited, family members themselves, unique physical characteristics, personality style, behavior or mannerisms, strengths or weaknesses, occupation or profession or special event in a person's life and were chosen without bad intentions or malice.
The tradition came from the need of the Acadian people for a sense of identity and belonging, and was amicably given in the air of mockery and fun. It remains an original and ingenious way to distinguish family ancestor through generations during a time when few could read or write. This great, rich & charming tradition of intangible cultural heritage flourished in the Acadian regions of Richmond County and is still widely used to present day.
The Sobriquets for the different regions of Richmond County are as follows:
L'Ardoise- 'Les Plumeux'
So named for their love of wild game, namely birds, and the large abundance they gathered and consumed as food. The word 'plumeaux' is French for 'feathered' and was given for the action of plucking birds of their feathers before cooking.
River Bourgeois- 'Les Choins'
The majority of persons from the region of River Bourgeois were refugees of the French Revolution of 1779. They had to leave France under fear of death because they were Catholic royalists. They would travel at night and hide during the day. In order to communicate with other groups, they ingeniously learned to mimic the sounds of the smallest bird of the owl family, 'le chouin'. And thus the name 'les Chouins' was born.
Louisdale- 'Les Baracos'
The name Louisdale was given to this Acadian village out of a need for a postal address. However, for the Acadians of this region it was known as 'le Grand Barachois à Loup Marin' (Seal Cove) and the nickname 'Baraco' stems from the word 'Barachois'.
The Isle Madame region of Richmond County had nicknames given for each community and is the largest compilation of Sobriquets currently in use to present day.
Poulamond- 'Les Ventres Jaunes'
In winter, the 'poulamond'; a Mik'maw word for a species of tom cod with a yellow belly, would swim up river in this area of Isle Madame. The Acadians would fish these tom cod in the winter as a way to nourish their families. The people of this region became known as 'les Ventre Jaunes' translated as 'the Yellow Bellies'.
West Arichat- 'Les Mangeurs de Coques'
The coastline and small islands of West Arichat contain an abundance of coastal clams. The people of this area served to procure and cook these clams for food. For this reason they came known as 'les Mangeurs de Coques', the 'clam eaters'.
||Petit de Grat- 'Les Mangeurs d'arrêts'
The arrival of the Jersey merchants to Isle Madame in 1765 marked the beginning of a regime of 'slavery' for the Acadian fishermen. The very survival of the Acadian people of Petit de Grat was at the mercy of the Jersey merchants. Through fishing agreements, these merchants strictly controlled procurement of fish species in the local waters.
Traditional fisherman were not allowed a single whole fish to feed themselves or their families. After having filleted the fish on behalf of the merchants , there was only the bones left to feed on. And this is the origins of the nickname. 'les Mangeurs d'arrêts', 'the bones eaters'.
Isle Madame also gave birth to the greatest number of 'Sobriquets' to name persons and individual family lines.
'Les Boudreau'- 'les Madouesse', 'les Jakes', 'les Neds', 'les Oiseaux', 'les Milots', 'les Matarattes', 'les Tucks', 'les Wishbins', and 'les Cakes'. *Being the largest family surname line, the Boudreau family surname has nine nicknames!
Les Martell'-'les Plattes', 'les Karimousses' and 'les Robets'
'Les Landry' -'les Timounes', 'les Saindoux', 'les Helaires'
Sammy and Lillian (Saindoux)
'Les Samson' -'les Catou', 'les Mulots', 'les Jimmy-Joe', 'les Zarouches'
'Les LeBlanc' -'les Babs'
'Les Josses(Joyce)' -'les Garreau'
'Les Forgeron'- 'les Phillpeaux', 'les Snooks'
'Les Babin' -'les Grappines'
'Les Girroir'-'les Barrouettes', 'les Caouette'
'Les Covin'-'les Cailloux', 'les Petty-Clow'
Individual nicknames given to persons to describe their character, personality or physical appearance are as follows:
- la Trousse
- la Poulette
- le Petit Canot
- le Petit Avocat
- les Foot
- Pierre à deux pouces
- Jack à Sel
- la Grêle
- Sous Race
- les Vents d'Est
- le Rat
- Chocolat Tom
- la Petite Gruche
- le Veau
- la Boiteuse
- le Mauvais Temps
- le Blue
- Mon Oncle Tick
- la Panne
- Cigarette Butt
- la Divorcée
- la Sangloude
- Joe Canne
- Bas Tchu
- la Gazette