“I have always loved antiques and when Mrs. Corinne and François (Blanchard) told us she had the idea of starting a museum with items she and François had accumulated in their house, we liked the idea right away because in the top of my mother’s old store (Mrs. Jos Blanchard) there were also enough items to start a museum. So in 1963 we opened one in my mother’s store. Our first hired guides were two little girls from Caraquet, of 10 and 11 years old; Thérèse à Armand Mourant (daughter of Armand Mourant) and Claire à Albanie Léger (daughter of Albanie Léger). They were paid $0.25 a day!’’
Excerpt from a speech by Jean de Blanchard, Caraquet, August 13, 1988, 25th anniversary of the Musée acadien de Caraquet
The first museum was set up in a former general store owned by the mayor of Caraquet, Alban Blanchard. At that time the building was used as a craft workshop by Mrs. Marie-Louise Allard-Blanchard, an artisan known throughout Canada and the United States. A large number of objects from Marie-Louise Allard-Blanchard’s collection were displayed for visitors to see. The Museum also featured an old-fashioned furnished room and two other rooms filled with various antiques, showing the everyday life of the past. (1) The official opening of the first Musée de Caraquet took place on August 13, 1963, during the Festival acadien de Caraquet. Its first vocation was to combine a museum and a craft center.
As soon as it opened, the number of objects donated or loaned by the people of Caraquet and the surrounding area began to pile up. The Museum was also very crowded during the months of July to September. The already decrepit building had become too small. It’s on the occasion of the Centennial of Canadian Confederation, in 1967, that the City of Caraquet sponsored the construction of a new building to house and protect the growing collection and to better accommodate visitors.
The project of the ‘new museum’ was made possible thanks to the grants available at the time of Canada’s centennial in which the three levels of government (federal, provincial and local), participated. From a private museum the institution became a city museum in 1967.
The official opening of the Musée acadien de Caraquet and Centre d’artisanat (craft centre) took place on Saturday, August 26, 1967, as part of Festival acadien de Caraquet activities. “The ribbon cutting was done in the presence of the former Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, Mr. Léonard O’Brien, his wife Mrs. O’Brien, Mr. Alonzo Cormier, co-director of the Centennial Grant Program, members of the clergy and many of the people interested in the Museum. (1)
(1) Le Voilier, Monthly Newsletter, Caraquet, NB, vol. 3, no.1, pp.12-15
The exhibitions of the new Museum were put together by Médard Chiasson in 1967 “following a thematic method of grouping objects according to their function. As you enter, along the wall to the left and right is the living room; opposite, arranged lenght-wise in the center are themed white panels displaying dining room, fishing, carpentry, audio-visual equipment, office, crafts, farm, blacksmithing and shoemaking objects. Along the wall facing the water, there is an exhibit of religious art and furniture. In the gallery, there is a bedroom-themed exhibit. There are also a number of lockable display cases containing historical artifacts of various values that are located along the walls near the craft store, in front of the foyer and on the wall to the right of the kitchen.” (1)
(1) Paul Thériault, Le Musée acadien de Caraquet, La Revue d’histoire de la Société Nicolas-Denys, Vol. V, no. 2 & 3, April-August 1977, p.5
The collections of the Musée acadien de Caraquet began with ethnological objects amassed by the families of François and Corinne Blanchard and Jean and Aldegonde Blanchard. From a private museum, the institution became a city museum in 1967 with the construction of a new building for it. Today, a non-profit corporation, Les Ami-e-s du Musée Acadien, inc. manages the Museum as trustee for and on behalf of the City of Caraquet.
In 1967, the Museum moved into its new premises and hired a few employees. Around 1972, the Museum began to organize exhibitions and to make an inventory. In the summer of 1974, a general inventory of the Museum’s collections began. From 1974 to 1977, hundreds of inventory cards were filled out and approximately 1,893 objects were photographed. This three-year process was carried out by the New Brunswick Provincial Inventory Team under the direction of Richard Philips in collaboration with Museum staff. At that time, the total number of objects was approximately 2,100.
In 1992, Les Ami-e-s du Musée Acadien, inc. undertook a planning study for the future development of the Museum. Ms. Nicole Lemay, a museum consultant, analyzed the Museum’s collections and suggested the presentation of thematic exhibitions as well as the computerization of the collections to facilitate access and ensure better management.
Since then, the Musée acadien de Caraquet has presented exhibitions and maintained a computerized inventory of its collections in order to ensure proper administrative conservation and preserve the identity of the objects acquired by the Museum since its establishment.
Today, the Musée acadien de Caraquet is provincally renowned for its work in the conservation, research, promotion and education of the socio-cultural history of the Acadian people of the Acadian Peninsula. It is among the oldest cultural institutions in Caraquet.