The mid-1800's saw the earliest settlers come to Black Duck Brook (L'Anse a Canards), Winter Houses (Maison d' Hiver), and Long Pont (La Barre).  They were a mixture from France and Acadian French from Nova Scotia and came here to make a living from fishing and farming.  Some came for the Summer and returned to France or St. Pierre in the Fall, but many remained here.

Some of the family names (with variations thereof) of these earliest settlers were:

BOZEC                                                           LECOURE                                                   DUFFENAIS (DUFFNEY)
GASTIA                                                          LETACONNOUX                                         LE BOLLOCH (RIOUX)
HUON                                                              LE ROY                                                        LAINEY
BUISSON                                                        FORMANGER                                             BOURGEOIS
FELIX                                                              BENOIT                                                        SECARDIN (SCARDIN)
YOUNG                                                           REBLOT

According to some of the elders of the community, there was a small school built in Black Duck Brook on the marsh near Joe Bozec's house before 1899.  Children were also taught in private homes in the early 1900's.  For example, a Miss Morrison was known to have taught school in Joe (Peter) and Roseanne Duffney's house.  Another school was later built in what is known as "the bonus" near the brook in Winter Houses, on the left-hand side going towards the cemetery.  Some of the teachers who taught there were Sarah Duffey, Miss Morrison, Dora Cashin, Isabelle Dubordieu, Joe Hartery, John McCarthy and Clementine Rioux.  Some of these same teachers possibly taught at the school on the marsh and also at the Chapel/School at the crossroads.

According to the Catholic Directory of 1894, the Church of St. Francis Xavier was the main church in the area and was situated at Black Duck Brook, near the Crossroads.  Reverend M. O'Rourke was the pastor at the time.  This church also later served as a school.  Mass was also celebrated at the home of Henry and Domitille Duffenais (nee Benoit).  A Mission Cross was erected near the church and was made from the mast of the schooner "Le Barge de Mage" which had come ashore in Winter Houses around 1904.  According to an article in the Western Star of July 23rd, 1913, the cross was erected on a Sunday morning in July in the presence of Reverend Holland.  This cross, said to be around 55 feet in height, was constructed by the the people of the Community and it took 10 men to raise it.  Reverend Holland is purported to have said that anyone who took a piece of the cross and kept it in their home would be protected against destruction by fire.  Even to this day, some families still have a small piece of the cross in their homes for this very reason.  Because of the height of the cross, fishermen used it as a marker, whether fishing from the Gulf or the Bay.  It has been said that this same cross was later cut down and made smaller, and placed in the cemetery by the school in Winter Houses.

When the Church/School was torn down around 1941, the wood from it was used to build the one-room school in Winter Houses.  This one-room school, which has been restored to its original state, was opened in April of 1942 and was named Our Lady of Perpetual Help by the first teacher, Kathleen Duffenais (nee MacDonald).  There was also a school built in Black Duck Brook in 1945 and the first teacher was Marianne Maher.  Another school was built at Long Point during this same time frame.  Many of the children who went to these schools, especially in the earlier years, could only speak and understand French but were taught in English only and were punished for speaking their native tongue in school.  These one-room schools closed in 1966 and children were then bussed to the school in Lourdes.

Father Adolphe Pineault was the first Parish Priest of the Parish which also encompassed the communities of Black Duck Brook, Winter Houses and Long Point. The new Parish was named Our Lady of Lourdes Parish by Father Pineault during his tenure between 1912 - 1928.  He referred to Winter Houses as "St. Denis" and the Church recordes of the era reflect that name.  To date, Father Pineault is the only French priest to have served in this Parish.


In the Spring of 1951, Father Ronald Jones (Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Priest) had the statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought from house to house on a hand-barrow (a stretcher type carrier with two handles on each end), carried by two men of the community.  A procession followed them and people would throw flowers in its path to show their respect and their faith in the Blessed Mother.  The statue stayed in each house for 24 hours and while there, the occupants and neighbours said the Rosary hourly, beginning at 6:00 PM.  From one community to the next, the statue would be brought by horse and wagon or by boat.  It is told that when it was time to bring the statue to Fox Island River, it was placed in one of the fishing boats and several other fishing boats followed in a procession.  After this event, many people of the communities made a pledge to say the Rosary at least once a day for the rest of their lives and there are people still keeping that promise to this day.

Submitted by:  Diane White