ENTREMONT, BENONI D’ (he signed Dentremont), mariner, shipbuilder, office holder, jp, and militia officer; b. c. 1745 at Pobomcoup (Pubnico), N.S., son of Jacques Mius d’Entremont, third Baron de Pobomcoup, and Marguerite Amirault; m. July 1783 Anne-Marguerite Pothier, and they had nine children; d. 21 Feb. 1841 at Pubnico, aged 96.
Benoni d’Entremont could pride himself on being of the “noblesse” for he was a direct descendant of Philippe Mius* d’Entremont, who had arrived in Acadia from France in 1650 or 1651 and had been made Baron de Pobomcoup by Charles de Saint-Étienne* de La Tour, governor of the colony. Benoni was influenced in his early years by his French cultural inheritance but also by the exigencies of survival in a hamlet that had not changed much since the 17th century. He shared its fervent Catholicism.
For d’Entremont, as for thousands of Acadians, the mid 18th century was devastating and heart-breaking. The Anglo-French struggle for domination in North America resulted in the deportation of some 7,000 Acadians in 1755 [see Charles Lawrence*] ost of them being removed to the Thirteen Colonies. A year later, at age 11, d’Entremont witnessed the near-destruction of his village by the English, was captured along with his family, and was transported to Marblehead, Mass.
Life for most Acadians in Massachusetts was difficult, to say the least. Deprived of priests in that Puritan colony, separated from immediate family members and prevented by law from searching for them, many lost hope of ever regaining their homesteads and way of life. Others, through mere circumstance, were better treated on the whole. This was the case with some of the people from Pobomcoup. Tradition has it that Benoni’s father met a mariner in Boston whose life and ship he had saved some 35 years earlier. To repay him, the seafarer pleaded his case with Governor William Shirley; as a consequence, his family was granted food, clothing, and a degree of liberty unknown to most exiles. The d’Entremonts and a closely associated family, the Amiraults, were even permitted to build the very vessel that would transport them back to Nova Scotia.
At the age of 21 Benoni d’Entremont again saw the shores of his native land. On 29 Aug. 1766 his family, along with eight others, arrived at Pubnico. Benoni later settled on the west side of the harbour and soon began to follow in the steps of his father, first as a sea captain, transporting goods on ships he and fellow Acadians had built. Sometimes more than the elements had to be braved. In 1778, on a return voyage from Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, his ship was seized by an American privateer, but he heroically recaptured it with two other men. He also imitated his father by becoming a community leader, initially of his own people and later of the entire population of Argyle Township, which included New England settlers who had arrived after the deportation at the invitation of Charles Lawrence, former governor of Nova Scotia.
D’Entremont’s position as a community leader may have been the result of his family background, of his ability to read and write in both French and English (acquired, surprisingly, while he was in exile), or of personal qualities which people admired and respected. He became an important figure in his church and an assistant to the parish priest, Jean-Mandé Sigogne, acting as a sort of envoy for villagers with specific requests to make of their pastor. The provincial authorities also recognized d’Entremont’s leadership. After a law was passed in 1791 permitting Acadians to serve as public officials he was named first treasurer for Argyle and a justice of the peace. In addition, he demonstrated a willingness to defend his home by joining the militia, in which he became a lieutenant. A son, Simon*, made further contributions to the community as a member of the provincial legislature.
Arch. of the Diocese of Yarmouth (Yarmouth, N.S.), Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, reg. des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 1799–1841 (copies at Centre acadien, univ. Sainte-Anne, Pointe-de-l’Église, N.-É.). PAC, MG 30, C20, 8: 1803–4 (mfm. at Centre acadien, univ. Sainte-Anne). PANS, RG 1, 168: 434. Acadian exiles in the colonies, comp. Janet Jehn (Covington, Ky., 1977). Bona Arsenault, Histoire et généalogie des Acadiens (2v., Québec, 1965), 1; (éd. rév., 6v., [Montréal, 1978]), 4. Edwin Crowell, A history of Barrington Township and vicinity . . . 1604–1870 (Yarmouth, ; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1973). C.-J. d’Entremont, Histoire du Cap-Sable de l’an mil au traité de Paris, 1763 (5v., Eunice, La., 1981). H. L. d’Entremont, The Baronnie de Pombcoup and the Acadians: a history of the ancient “Department of Cape Sable,” now known as Yarmouth and Shelburne counties, Nova Scotia (Yarmouth, 1931), 44–45, 51, 53–54, 111–15, 121–22. Vanguard (Yarmouth), 26 Sept. 1973.