AUFFRAY, CHARLES-DOMINIQUE, teacher and farmer; b. 1794 in Lamballe, France, illegitimate son of Jeanne-Mathurine Auffray; d. 28 March 1837 in Pré-d’en-Haut, N.B.
Charles-Dominique Auffray never knew his father, a soldier who died in battle several months before he was born. His mother decided to go and live with her father, Charles Auffray. She later married, but died a short time afterwards. On the death of her father in 1807, Charles-Dominique, who was only 13, was taken in by his uncle Victor Auffray.
Auffray attended the local school in his youth, and then apprenticed with master silversmiths in various French towns. In 1813 he enlisted in the Napoleonic army. After six months in the field he was wounded; subsequently, after the restoration of Louis XVIII, he was granted temporary leave. In 1816, even though he had received no discharge from active service, he left Saint-Malo for St John’s with Auguste Flulin, a silversmith who had hired him. On arriving at St John’s, however, Flulin, who had contraband goods with him, had all his possessions seized by customs officers, and consequently had no choice but to give his workman notice.
After spending six weeks in St John’s, Auffray managed to get to Prince Edward Island, to the Acadian village of Cascumpec not far from Tignish on the northwestern coast. Since he was able to read and write, and so was considered a scholar by the villagers, he offered his services as a teacher. For the next three years, from 1816 to 1819, he taught there, but before long, according to an account written some 80 years later, he began to be distrusted: “He behaved in such a manner as to arouse suspicions, and soon his odd ways earned him the title of sorcerer. So many things were imputed to him that finally Auffray had to clear out.” In fact he was brought before the justice of the peace by the parents of a girl who was carrying his child. Having made reparation to the parents, he left Cascumpec in 1819 and went to live at Barachois, another Acadian village, this time in southeastern New Brunswick, and again was hired as a teacher.
After two years, Auffray seems to have had it in mind to settle there permanently: he was engaged to a local girl, and on 12 Dec. 1821 he petitioned the lieutenant governor of the province, George Stracey Smyth*, for a grant of land in a new settlement near Barachois. His request was rejected, however, and Antoine Gagnon, the missionary responsible for Barachois, apparently refused to marry him because of insufficient proof that there were no impediments to the union. When consulted by Gagnon earlier that year, the archbishop of Quebec, Joseph-Octave Plessis*, had assented to the marriage but counselled Gagnon to seek the opinion also of his diocesan bishop, Angus Bernard MacEachern* of Charlottetown. MacEachern had already advised Gagnon that he himself would perform the ceremony only if two witnesses were able to swear on the Gospel and the crucifix that the suitor was single or a widower. As there was no one at Barachois to bear witness on his behalf, Auffray evidently had to abandon the idea of getting married.
In the autumn of 1822 Auffray was a witness at the wedding in nearby Memramcook of his friend and compatriot from Dunkirk, Gabriel Herbert, who was also a teacher. Tradition has it that he met a young lady there and fell in love with her, with the result that he moved from Barachois to Memramcook, where the missionary Louis Gingras* raised no obstacles to his plans to wed her. On 4 Nov. 1823 he married Nathalie Bourgeois, and he settled down at Pré-d’en-Haut, an Acadian village on the east bank of the Petitcodiac. Interestingly, he had stated to Gingras that he was the son of Charles-Victor Auffray and Jeanne Cantin, probably thinking that if he told the truth his marriage would not take place. At the time of the wedding he was still calling himself a “schoolmaster,” but a year later, at the baptism of his first child (he would have five others in the period from 1827 to 1835), he was described as an “agricultural labourer.” He remained so employed until his death on 28 March 1837. For some time he had apparently been planning to take a trip to his native land and had put a little money aside for this purpose, but death intervened unexpectedly.
Charles-Dominique Auffray figures among the first teachers or “itinerant masters” to serve in the Acadian community, both on Prince Edward Island and in New Brunswick, after the deportation of 1755. He was in some ways a precursor of Jean Leménager (the husband of his sister-in-law Élizabeth Bourgeois), Gabriel Herbert, Alexis-Théodore de La Burgue, Jacques Grenet, and Henri Renouard, Frenchmen who in the first half of the 19th century taught the Acadians in southeastern New Brunswick the rudiments of grammar and arithmetic.
AAQ, 210 A, X: 424; 311 CN, V: 54, 56–58. Arch. of the Diocese of Saint John (Saint John, N.B.), Antoine Gagnon papers, no.126. Arch. paroissiales, Saint-Henri (Barachois, N.-B.), Reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures (mfm. at Centre d’études acadiennes, univ. de Moncton, Moncton, N.-B.); Saint-Thomas (Memramcook, N.-B.), Reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures (mfm. at Centre d’études acadiennes). Centre d’études acadiennes, 604-1-1 (C. Renaud, “Histoire généalogique de Dr. Jean-Marie Auffrey”); A-4-7, no.503. G. Buote, “La paroisse de Cascumpec,” L’Impartial (Tignish, Î.-P.-É.), 17 mars 1904: 3.