It's a Small World

By Juliana L’Heureux

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From l. to r., Father Frank Morin, Roman Catholic pastor to the Passamaquoddy at St. Ann's parish in
Princeton ME, Aigis Argot Butard, Pierre Reybet Degat, French ancestor of Pierre Dugua and my husband, Richard L'Heureux.

Dick and I were strolling around the small park in downtown Calais, Maine waiting for the St. Croix 2004 opening festivities on June 25 to begin when I happened to strike up a conversation with a stately gentleman from France named Pierre Reybet Degat. Monsieur Degat pulled out his French passport to validate his ancestry. He said he's the 16th generation ancestor of Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts, and the leader of the expedition who, along with Samuel de Champlain, brought the first French settlers to St. Croix Island in 1604. We were assembled in the park in the tiny City of Calais, Maine to celebrate a project his ancestor started in 1604! [Close-up of Degat]

Pierre Dugua convinced Henry IV of France to give him a monopoly on the lucrative North American fur trade in exhange for the King's support of his expedition. In other words, Sieur de Monts set up a "joint venture- public-private partnership" with the French crown.

Where were the drum rolls? Msr. Degat should have been on stage with the politicians and Chamber of Commerce folks at the opening ceremionies.

Well, I was at least able to get his picture. He came to Calais, Maine from the Bordeaux region of France traveling with a friend named Aigis Argod Butard. The two men just wanted to see St. Croix Island, located off the coast of Calais in the eastern section of Maine.

I directed Msr. Degat to take another trip to Port Royal in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia where he would see a very handsome statue of his ancestor Sieur de Monts in St. Ann Fort overlooking the Bay of Fundy.

Interesting, I wasn't able to find Msr. Degat again, after the first flurry of introductions and my picture was taken.

Like an apparition from the past, he just disappeared.

Perhaps, talking to a reporter like me was more validation of his ancestry then he bargained for. Who knows? But, I saw his French passport and it was enough for me to believe he was who he said he was.

It is a small world, indeed, where time as well as events are so fleeting: 1604-2004, Calais Maine.

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Copyright 2004, Juliana L'Heureux