The Channel Islanders

Charles Robin:

Charles Robin was born on the Island of Jersey located in the English Channel. Situated between France and Britain, this small island is mainly known for its agriculture, banks and maritime activities. Since the time of William the Conqueror (1066), its population is politically under British rule. Protestantism is widespread and three languages are spoken: English, French and its regional variation, the Jèrriais.
Born in 1743, Charles Robin spends his childhood in the port of St-Aubin where his father owns a general store. From this building, young Charles could gaze at the ships with merchandise and sailors from all corners of the Atlantic. Two of his uncles are ship captains, as is his brother, John, who is familiar with the cod fishery based in Newfoundland. Upon their father’s death, in 1754, the eldest brother, Philippe, takes over the family business leaving Charles looking toward the fishery in the Gulf of St-Lawrence. Charles settles first in Arichat (Nova Scotia) around 1765, soon choosing to establish his business in Paspébiac, in 1766.
Undoubtedly, the first years are difficult. Competition is fierce and many Channel Island entrepreneurs want to launch themselves into the cod trade. Furthermore, during the American War of Independence, Charles Robin’s establishments are destroyed by privateers. After 1783, he has to rebuild them from the ground up. In spite of the hardships, Charles Robin is particularly tenacious; he is also relentless, meticulous and cautious. From his base in Paspébiac, he remains fully informed about the state of the export markets and adapts to the political changes occurring in Europe, most notably those brought about by the French Revolution. CHILDLESS, Charles Robin bequeaths his business to his nephews in 1802. His enterprise had become a global commercial empire adding another strong link between the Americas and Europe. As one of the most influential men in all of eastern Canada, Charles Robin retires to his native island where he dies in 1824.

In the collective memory, Charles Robin is often portrayed as an exploiter. To others, he is revered as a force leading to the establishment of a Canadian identity.

David Le Boutillier

Born in 1811 at St.Jean, Jersey, the son of Josué Le Boutillier and Anne Amy. He settled at Paspébiac in 1827 and apprenticed as a clerk with the Charles Robin and Company. William Fruing, the head clerk, taught him bookkeeping and current practices in the dried cod trade. In 1838, Le Boutillier entered the trade in salt cod, in partnership with his brothers Amy and Edward, forming the company Le Boutillier Brothers. David was appointed manager. In addition to Paspébiac, the company had fishing operations in Gaspé, New Brunswick and Labrador and traded with the West Indies and ports on the Mediterranean. He represented Bonaventure in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1852 to 1854 as a Reformer. David Le Boutilllier died in 1854 - seemingly unmarried and probably at Paspébiac.

Eugene Auguste Albert Bouillon

Born in 1869 at Grenville House, Bagot, St-Saviour, Jersey Eugene's family lost their shoe store in the bankruptcy of 1886. As the eldest son, he signed a contract with Charles Robin while the rest of his family had just enough money for their fares to New Zealand. He never saw his family again. He rose to be a formidable presence on the coast and became General Manager of Robin, Jones, Whitman Company. Known to be severe but fair, he would survey the Anglican congregation every Sunday and question those of his employees who were not in attendance. It is said that he knew every member of his community in the peninsular by name. Died 1959.

Charles Philip Le Maistre

Born on the 7th January 1895 at Fiquet in the Rozel parish of Jersey. Charles and a cousin signed a contract with the Brothers Le Boutillier before consulting their parents. He arrived in Québec in 1909. Ended up as manager of the Paspébiac Robin store 1944 - 1952. He was well known for his great sense of humour and warmth. He died in 1962.