What was at one time, a school project for his son focused, solely, on his family, has turned into a much larger genealogy project for Alfred Benoit and his son Daniel.
“I’ve been at it for more than 20 years; Daniel came home one day with a Grade 7 project of doing his family history, or family tree, we kind of worked that out and started off from there,” Benoit said.
“So it started off just as our own family tree and then we had this great idea – why don’t we do all of the families,” he added with a chuckle, of how the casual idea became the long-term project.
Benoit said it starts with six original families.
“Actually, if you look at the dynamics of the six, they were all married to daughters of the eldest guy so, if you narrow it down, it was more like two families which came over but all with different names, of course,” he said.
“There are only two that have no decedents here; one had no children and the other moved to Carleton in Quebec, they left after three or four years.
“So we’ve been doing the genealogy of each of those families and, of course, everything intersects and gets into other areas where, some of them moved to Cheticamp or Petit-de-Grat or Arichat, those areas. Others moved out to the States or other parts of Canada.”
Benoit talked about using the works of Stephen White, from the Centre of Acadian Studies at the Université de Moncton, as a source and obtaining “some” information off the internet.
“He [White] has written a lot of papers of Acadians and he has two books right now he has put in, from 1604 to 1713,” Benoit said. “Those are just two volumes of Acadian families.
“Hopefully, he is still working on from 1714 to 1785, which is going to be at least 10 volumes, maybe 15, because, as the population grows, you have that many more generations.”
He said the interesting part is the variety in the maiden names of the women.
“I can go Benoits until the cows come home but then you get all the different [maiden names]. My mother was a Boudreau, her mother was a Doiron and her mother was a Cross; it just extends further and further out.
“And that’s the thing with Acadian names, there are some names which are particular to a particular area, as far as Nova Scotia goes. Doiron is mostly here, Broussard is definitely here; they are ones who came back after the deportations and the only place they settled was here, as far as Nova Scotia was concerned. So, if you find a Broussard in Cheticamp or Arichat, chances are they both started here.
“Boudreau’s are everywhere, Landry’s, LeBlanc’s, it’s another big one; we did have a LeBlanc here, they were the ones that left, went to Carleton, for some reason … they left after three or four years.”
Benoit said he and Daniel enjoy doing the research.
“I enjoy it but I haven’t been able to do a whole lot in the last few years,” he said.
“I do a lot of the back stuff and Daniel, more so now, is picking up the new people – the newer generations. My sons, now we have a grandchild, so, now, you’re up to about 14 generations. We like it, enjoy it.”