October 30, 1918: Private Louis Bernard Durant*

Durant Louis Bernard headstone4

Date of Birth: November 24, 1898 at Pomquet, Antigonish County

Parents: John B. and Saraphine “Sarah” (Duon) Durant

Siblings: Brothers John Findley & Levi; sisters Mary Ann & Rose

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Carpenter

Enlistment: September 12, 1918 at Boston, MA

Unit: 1st Depot Battalion, Nova Scotia Regiment

Service #: 3199814

Rank: Private

Previous Military Service: None

Next of Kin: Sara Durant, Pomquet, Antigonish County (mother)

Date of Death: October 30, 1918 at Halifax, NS

Final Resting Place: St. Croix Parish Cemetery, Pomquet, Antigonish County

*The surname “Durant” is a phonetic rendition of the name “Doiron.” Louis’ family name was recorded as “Dorant” on his attestation papers and all other documents in his service file.

Louis Bernard Durant was born at Pomquet, Antigonish County, on November 24, 1898, the youngest of Saraphine “Sarah” (Duon) and John B. Durant’s five children. Louis was a descendant of the community’s pioneers on both sides of his family. The saga of the Pomquet Doirons commences with the arrival of Jean (Pioneer) Doiron to Acadia around 1670. Jean married twice, resulting in a large family of 19 children. One son, Noel Doiron, became famous in 1758 as an Acadian leader from Port Royal. Noel was twice taken prisoner—once at Boston and again at Halifax—and the town of Noel, Nova Scotia, bears his name, as he resided there for 40 years.

Another son of Jean (Pioneer) was Louis, who raised a family of five children. One was a son, Alexis, born at Pisiquit (Windsor), Acadia, in 1723. Alexis married Marguerite Thibodeau in 1743 and the couple had three children before Marquerite’s death on Île St. Jean (PEI) nine years later. Alexis remarried in 1753, his second marriage resulting in more children.

By 1750, the situation was becoming grim for Nova Scotia’s Acadians. In response, many Doirons decided to move to Île St. Jean, with Noel Doiron leading the way. The group included his nephews, Alexis and Jean, their emigration later becoming known as the “Acadian Exodus.” Their actions proved fortuitous, as British authorities forcibly expelled Nova Scotia’s Acadians in September 1755. As a result, many Doiron families were dispersed along the 13 Colonies’ eastern seaboard.

The PEI branch of the Doiron family was secure until 1758, when British forces captured Fortress Louisbourg and commenced expelling Acadians from the island. The British organized a convoy of 11 ships. Noel Doiron, a community elder, his extended family of five children and 30 grandchildren were placed aboard the leaking transport Duke William. Alexis, Jean and their families were passengers on other ships.

As the 13 Colonies did not want to accept any more Acadians, the destination this time was France. The convoy departed in the autumn of 1758 and soon encountered winter storms. When the Duke William sank off the English coast, Noel and his whole family were lost at sea. Two other ships sank, with the total loss of over 1,300 Acadians. In addition, two ships ran aground in an effort to evade the storm, one on the Azores, the second off the coast of Spain, with more lives lost in each wreck.

Alexis Doiron made it to France, but during the voyage lost two children to disease, both of whom were buried at sea. His brother, Jean, also survived but lost four children during the passage. The convoy made landfall at St. Malo, France. Alexis found work in the area but after 14 years in France he arranged through fishing merchants from the Isle of Jersey, off the coast of Brittany, to return to Île St. Jean. His son, Josephat, departed France in 1772 with his father-in-law, Pierre Duon, brother-in-law Cyprian Duon, Pierre Broussard and his grandson, Charles Melanson, and the families of Simon Vincent and Louis Lamart (Lammare).

The group first settled at Arichat, but later relocated to Pomquet. Alexis took the rest of his family, with the exception of Josephat, and returned to Île St. Jean. Today, most of the Rustico, PEI, Doirons are descendants of Alexis. Josephat Doiron and his large family received a grant of 750 acres at Pomquet—400 acres on the harbour’s south end, divided into two sections of 200 acres, two sections of 200 acres each on the west side, and a 50-acre section on the “Neck.” Josephat’s son, Cyprian, received 200 acres on the west side and 70 acres on the southwest side of the harbour. Altogether, the Dorion family received 1,020 acres of land in the Pomquet area.

Pierre Doiron, Josaphat ’s son, resided on the most southern of the two sections and passed this property down to his son, Cyrille (Cyril) Doiron, who in turn bequeathed the land to his son, Dosithe. Finally, Dosithe’s son, John B. Durant—Louis Bernard’s father—inherited the property. [The spelling of some Doiron family branches changed to “Durant” due to pronunciation and English influence.]

Louis Bernard’s mother, Saraphine “Sarah,” was a daughter of Costain and Irene (Landry) Duon. Costain was a member of the Pierre Duon family that arrived in Pomquet at the same time as the Doirons. Pierre and his son, Cyprian Duon, received grants of 200 acres each. Some branches of the Duon family also changed the spelling of their surname to Deon and DeYoung, but Sarah’s family name remained “Duon.” Sarah was Pierre (Pioneer) Duon’s great-grand-daughter, twice removed.

In 1901, John and Sarah were living at Pomquet, NS. Five children—three sons and two daughters—also resided in the household, Louis Bernard being their youngest child. Sometime after 1911, Louis’ older brother, Levi, emigrated to Boston, MA. In May 1918, 19-year-old Louis joined him and found work as a carpenter.

While he was a British subject by birth, Louis filed for American citizenship on August 8, 1918. As required of all men his age at the time, he also registered for the US military draft on September 12, 1918. Rather than serve with the American Expeditionary Force, however, Louis chose to enlist with the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Boston, MA, on the same day. He immediately travelled by train to Nova Scotia and by September 18 had arrived at Camp Aldershot, near Kentville, for training,

Within days of his arrival, health concerns interrupted Louis’s training. Initially hospitalized at Camp Aldershot on September 21 with eczema, he was transferred to Military Hospital, Halifax, on October 4 for treatment of psoriasis and admitted to a medical facility at Pine Hill three days later. While under medical care, Louis contracted influenza—specifically, the highly contagious “Spanish flu” that was spreading across the province at the time—and was admitted to Rockhead Military Hospital on October 23.

Private Louis Bernard Durant failed to recover, passing away at 10:35 a.m. October 30, 1918. His remains were returned to Pomquet and laid to rest in St. Croix Parish Cemetery. Louis was one month shy of his twentieth birthday at the time of his death.

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