Final Journey Home

John Allen LeBlanc in the Acadian Museum of Erath, La.

John Allen LeBlanc, Acadian craftsman and painter of Lafayette, Louisiana, constructed to scale two identical replicas of the Saint-Charles-aux-Mines Church of Grand Pre, Nova Scotia.

On June 2, 2001, John and Shirley LeBlanc will begin a journey with grandsons Brazos Bennight, Damion Garrett and Damion's special friend, Kegan Bertrand, to bring and donate one of the replicas to the Grand Pre National Historic site, operated by Parks Canada.  The site has become the unofficial shrine for all Acadians and houses the memorial church blessed on August 16, 1922.

An unveiling of the replica will be on the grounds of Saint-Charles-aux-Mines Church at Grand Pre on June 10, 2001.  John and Shirley's son, Kevin, of Austin, Texas, daughter Sonya Key of Montgomery, Texas and John's sister, Barbara Molbert and her companion Loiston Belaire, will be arriving in Halifax on June 8, 2001 to be present for the unveiling.

John's replica of the church was on display last fall at the Acadian Museum of Erath, La. and Abbeville Arts and Cultural Alliance, Abbeville, La.  During January 2001 John donated one replica to the Acadian Memorial in St. Martinville, La.  Acadian Village, Lafayette, La. had the Church on display since the first of the year and now it is time to prepare the church for its final journey home.

In building the replica, John realized that there are Acadian descendants that would never have the opportunity to experience the feeling of Grand Pre.  It is his hope that all Acadian descendants would have the opportunity to view the replica and leave with an understanding of the importance and realize what this Church represents as it is so very much a part of our Acadian history.

Approximately 360 hours of work were used in building both replicas using a scale of 1/2 inch to 1 foot.  The replica measurements are:  20 inches in width, 36 inches in length, and 48 inches in height (that includes the cross with the rooster.)

To have a true symbolic meaning for our family, we have placed several items of interest in the interior and on the exterior of the church.

The following items were placed in/on the interior.
*  A fillet piece of cypress board that is about 260 years old, from the Old Opera House,    located in St. Martinville, La.
*  A fillet piece of the Evangeline Oak, also located in St. Martinville, La.
*  A fillet piece of the St. John Oak, located in Lafayette, La.
*  A fillet piece of a cedar tree from the old homestead of my Aunt, Estelle LeBlanc Devillier, located at the 4-corners, Cecilia, La.
*  A fillet piece of a pecan tree that was planted by my Great Grandparents, Sosthene Zeringue and Clemence Guidry, located at the 4-Corners in Ceciia, La.
*  A fillet piece of an oak tree from the homestead of my 5th Great grandfather, Jean  Guilbeau, located at the corner of Kilchrist Rd. and Gendarme Rd., Carencro, La.
*  A fillet piece of an oak from the homestead of my Great Grandfather, Arthur Onezime Guilbeau, located at the corner of West Congress and Ambassador Caffery, Lafayette, La.
*  A fillet piece of pear tree from Shirley's Grandmother, Mary Anaise Prejean Thibodeaux, located on Bellot St., Lafayette, La.
*  A small branch of the willow tree from the grounds of St. Charles des Mines Church, located in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia.
*  A small rock from the Old Acadian Cemetery located in Major's Point on Baie Ste-Marie, Nova Scotia.
*  A minute amount of soil from our present home, located in Lafayette, Louisiana.
*  A teaspoon of soil given to me by the Honorable Judge Allen Babineaux of Lafayette, La. taken from the homes 1707 homestead of Nicolas Babineau, located less than two miles from Port Royal, Nova Scotia.
*   Locks of hair from myself, from Shirley, from our children and their spouses, from our grandchildren, from Shirley's mother, from my two sisters and their spouses and from our two dogs.

On the Exterior of the Church:
*  The hand railings are from the pecan tree of my Great Grandparents, Sosthene Zeringue and  Clemence Guidry, located at the 4-Corners, Cecilia, La.
*  The base that the cross sits on is from cypress wood approximately 60 years old.  It was once used for a "hen house" belonging to Placide Belaire and Emma Landry from Breaux Bridge and Parks, Louisiana area.
*  Church steeple-The same trees that wood was taken for the inside of the replica were used for wood for the spindles, top and bottom rails.
*  The Cross on the top of the steeple is from our oak tree located in Lafayette, La

John Allen LeBlanc