Historical journey
20 May 2011

At about 2:30 pm on January 19th, 1787, Charles Robin of The Charles Robin & Co. of Paspébiac decides to camp for the night in Causapscal because of the cold temperature. Headed for Québec City he is accompanied by five men.

The Battle of Restigouche in 1760 puts an end to France's possession of Canada. The people of the British island of Jersey are good navigators and excellent bilingual merchants. Their ability to speak French was owed to Jersey having belonged to the Duke of Normandy at the time of William The Conqueror's defeat of England in 1066. The Jerseyites were attracted by Canada's abundance of Cod fishing. Beginning in 1766 Charles Robin is present in Acadia where he is proprietor of a franchise of the Robin, Pipon & Co. In 1778, Two years after the American Declaration of Independence Charles Robin's trading posts at Artichat in Cape Breton and at Paspébiac in La Baie-des-Chaleurs are pillaged and burnt by American pirates. Unable to secure protection from the Royal Navy, he leaves Canada for five years.

In 1783 Charles Robin founds his own company, The Charles Robin & Co.(CRC). Upon returning to the Gaspé Coast he establishes himself in Paspébiac where he begins to build a trading post by the water, where some buildings still exist. Charles Robin's fishing plans brought about his meeting with Lord Dorchester, Governor General of Canada. Because Robin was busy with navigation and fishing during the summer, he would have to make the trip to Québec City in the winter. Travelling from la Baie-des-Chaleurs to Québec City during the winter being virtually impossible, Robin was obliged to walk from Paspébiac to Trois-Pistoles, where they would be able to continue on by horse.

Through his personal journal it was possible for Mr. Arthur Legroes of the Robin Co. to describe Charles Robin's trip from Paspébiac to Québec City. Mr. Legroes's article appeared in dans la Revue d'histoire de la Gaspésie. "At 6 am on Monday Juanuary 8th, 1787 he left his house in Paspébiac with James Huard and his sons. At 7 they ate breakfast in New Carlisle, arriving in Bonaventure at 10. At noon they arrived at Jean Arsenau's house where they had lunch. On January 9th they crossed the Caplan river. On January 10th the weather was good and they were able to travel without snowshoes. At one o'clock they arrived at Tracadiguèche (later named Tracadièche, today called Carleton). At three o'clock they arrive at Urbain Jean's house where they make an agreement with two men who will join them on their trip to Québec City. On Saturday the 13th provisions are prepared and attached to the sleds. A man named Ambroise would lead the expedition. The details of January 14th and 15th are lost, those pages of Charles Robin's journal having been torn out. On the 16th they traveled towards the Matapedia river, where they have difficulty crossing, the ice breaking under their feet frequently, leaving them soaking wet. On the 18th there is a foot of snow on the river, making the walking difficult and dangerous. On that day the group where barely able to advance five kilometers, and the night was very cold.

Friday January 19th, the group stopped for the night. They camped at the intersection of the Matapedia and another river of the same size: the Causapscal river. The cold became unbearable and they were obliged to camp for the night. The next day at 10:30 am we arrived at the first lake, le petit lac Matapédia (today called Lac-au-Saumon). This lake is about one and a half kilometers long and half a kilometer wide. On Monday January 22nd the group arrived at the connecting waters between lake Matapedia and the St. Lawrence river. The river could be seen the next day from the mountain tops. The 25th and 26th were spent at Rimouski where they meet Germain Lepage and on the 29th they reached Trois-Pistoles where they continued on by horse carriage. The 31st they had lunch at Rivière-du-Loup, where they discussed Camarasca, Islette, St-Ann and St-Roc…

The voyage is finally over on February 2nd. Twenty-seven days through snow, seventeen of them having been spent travelling between Nouvelle and Trois-Pistoles! They had good reason to make this trip, the days that followed were spent in numerous meetings and on February 26th at 8 am they left Québec City. They reached Trois-Pistoles on March 3rd, lake Matapedia on the 10th, Restigouche on 16th and Nouvelle on the 17th.