The secret society of the Order of Jacques-Cartier, or La Patente, remains mysterious for many historians. A briefcase filled with documents dating from 1956 to 1965 has just been found in Grand Falls, in northwestern New Brunswick, and sheds new light on this secret group dedicated to the advancement of Francophones in New Brunswick. political and economic spheres in Canada.
Luc Doucet simply could not believe it. The president of the Richelieu International Club was handed last November an old dusty briefcase filled with official documents from the Grand Falls Commandery of the Order of Jacques-Cartier.
“The briefcase was locked in an attic from February 1965 until last November,” says Doucet.
It is a former member of the Order who handed the documents to Luc Doucet. The latter recalls that the Richelieu clubs were born in 1944 at the initiative of members of the Order of Jacques Cartier who sought to establish an official channel to transmit some of their claims.
The Order of Jacques Cartier was dissolved in 1964 following revelations by a former member, Roger Cyr, who published a book on the existence of La Patente . The secret and elitist side of the Order also contributed to the end of its existence, as did the social and cultural changes of the mid-1960s.
Luc Doucet reports that the commanderies were ordered in February 1965 to destroy all documents related to the Order of Jacques-Cartier.
“But that gentleman was not able,” he said, speaking of the member at Grand Falls. He could not bring himself to burn everything and he put it in his attic, “explains Luc Doucet.
When he told me that, I thought, “we can not let that go, that’s part of our story!”
Luc Doucet, President of Richelieu International
The briefcase and all the documents it contains will be given this week at the Center d’études acadiennes of the Université de Moncton.
The files contained in the briefcase contain unpublished information on the operation of the Order of Jacques-Cartier and its members.
“We have the names of certain members, their phone numbers, their professions and even their registration numbers,” says Mr. Doucet.
In a recorded report, we discover the strategy of the members to elect municipal councilors in Grand Falls. We also learn that the group made representations for the Simpsons-Sears catalog to be distributed in French in the region.
Luc Doucet believes that the Order has been essential to the development of the French fact in Canada.
“These people are making things change. If our banknotes and postage stamps are bilingual, it’s thanks to the Order of Jacques-Cartier, “says Mr. Doucet.
Luc Doucet does not know if other former members have kept documents. Membership in La Patente was secret and families often did not know that one of them was a member. Many even took their secrets to the grave, but the documents found in Grand Falls help lift the veil a little more about the organization.