Located in southeastern New Brunswick, the Town of Champdoré is a new local government created on January 1, 2023 as a result of local governance reform that includes the Village of Saint-Antoine, the Local Service District of Sainte-Marie, the Local Service District of Saint-Paul, the Local Service District of Grand Saint-Antoine, part of the Local Service District of Wellington (McKees Mills) and part of the Local Service District of Harcourt.
This new bilingual municipality of approximately 5,100 citizens is recognized for its high quality of life, its many services offered, its proximity to urban centres and its economic and community dynamism. With a growth in the tax base in 2023 of 11.75% and building permit values issued for a total of $11 million in 2022 in Champdoré, the municipality is experiencing a growing economy.
Saint-Antoine, formerly known as Higho, Higho de Cocagne or Saint-Antoine-l’Ermite, has more than 185 years of history.
In the spring of 1832, the three DesRoches sisters, who came from the top of the Cocagne river with their husbands, were the first to claim land in Saint-Antoine. Joseph Goguen (Barbe), his brother Anselme (Geneviève) and Basile Thibodeau (Marguerite) came to make maple sugar in an area of Grub Road.
While the men were working at the sugar bush, the three ladies ventured into the forest. When they arrived on the current land of the late Gérard (son of Édouard) Caissie and his wife Alice on Caissie Street, Marguerite puts a stick in the ground and claimed that this land would be hers. ‘’You, my sisters, take the other lands.’’ She found that the land was higher than the other ones with good quality wood and fertile soil.
Geneviève inherited the land where the brothers Lionel and Robert LeBlanc live today on Bel Air Street. The next piece of land, former residence of Valmond (son of Floribert) Léger at 34 avenue de l’Église, which includes the site of today’s church, became the land of Barbe Goguen. They called their colony ‘’Higho of Cocagne’’, because of its elevation compared to the neighboring parishes (Notre-Dame, Sainte-Marie and Bouctouche).
The following year, in 1833, the DesRoches sisters established themselves on these claimed lands with their spouses. Thereafter, other families joined them, and a first chapel of 28 feet by 40 feet was built in 1838. Until this time, it was the house of Joseph Goguen which served as a place for the mass. In 1859, the chapel was already too small, so the second church was built with a dimension of 36 feet by 50 feet, in addition to a sacristy of 18 feet by 20 feet.
The name of Saint-Antoine-l’Ermite was given in 1873 by Father Gosselin because of the Reverend Antoine Gagnon who did ministry work in the region.
In addition, a post office (1873) and a small school (1876) were built, and a small hamlet nestled around this mission. The school was located on the current land of the late Jean-Paul (son of Amédée) LeBlanc and his wife Élise at 98, avenue de l’Église. The first postmaster was Cyprien Dionne.
In 1886-1887, a railway line was constructed between Bouctouche and Moncton. This benefited Saint-Antoine because the parish was on the route of the line. The railway line passed where Yvon Street is located today. Entrepreneurs established themselves near the station and Saint-Antoine became a service center as it is today. The railroad was used to transport goods and provide passenger service to people traveling to Moncton. In 1963, the Moncton-Bouctouche train made its last trip. In 1966, the railroad tracks were removed.
Little by little, the center of the village moved to become Principale Street as it became known.
With the arrival of the first families, a cemetery became necessary. Over the years, the first tombstones have been lost and the few hundred names of our builders are no longer in place. It is even said that two cemeteries are built on top of each other.
Therefore, a cross was unveiled and blessed on July 5th, 2009 to recognize our first settlers of Saint-Antoine at the site of the first cemetery. The Pioneer Monument was installed in 2010 where the first cemetery of the village was located to commemorate the names of our brave builders who arrived here from 1833. In 1923, the large stone church that we have today was built with dimensions of 158’ by 60’.
The municipality was officially incorporated under the name of Village of Saint-Antoine in 1966. The council consisted of a mayor and two councillors until 1974.
Generations of pioneers and builders have contributed to the evolution of the village. Today, the Village of Saint-Antoine, located in southeastern New Brunswick, has 1,733 inhabitants, 87% of whom are Francophones (statistics from 2016 Canadian census). The municipality is located 34 km north of Moncton, which explains why it is a privileged place for people who want to live in peace in the country while being close to the big city.