Travelogue Talk

Travelogue Talk --Sunday, December 27, 1942 --11.50 To 11.45 AM
Fr: John W. FisherHalifax to NationalAtn: S.R. Kennedy.

Announcer: As another in its series of talks on Travel and Adventure, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation presents John W. Fischer. This is the third and final talk in a series entitled: “This is Canada Too”. The speaker is a well known journalist and radio commentator from Halifax ad his home is at Sackville, New Brunswick.

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Fisher: Good morning fellow Canadians and friends across the line—We greet you once more from Atlantic Canada and invite you to rendez-vous with us in the land of ocean breezes, ships and friendly people- the provinces of ballads and ghost stories, sea yarns and characters—we invite you to come to the Eastern corner of our country with the reminder that “This IS CANADA TOO”.

This morning, we are going in search of stories and characters. And first of all let us visit the land of the Acadians, on the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia. In this part of our Province the tongue is French and the customs are quaint and almost story-book like. Here in Acadian are the one-lunged villages, such as you see in Quebec. In fact, they call it the worlds longest street. For sixty miles the Acadian houses follow the shore line in an almost continuous row--- from Digby to Yarmouth it is a single village. This is the land of the Terriault’s, Belliveau’s, Doucettes, Leblano’s and the Comeau’s. It is a ship-building shore---a fishing center, where these people have braved the seas for generations-in search of food.

And what folk lore there is here! Take the story of Jerome, the ungrateful wretch who wouldn’t speak for 58 years. I told it once before on the radio, but, so many people wanted to hear more about him, I decided to include it in our adventures today.

It seems that in the year 1854 the fishermen of these parts set sail one morning on St. Mary’s Bay, -just another fishing day they thought. While near the shore they saw an object that looked to them like a man on the beach. Sure enough it was a man. He seemed to be in agony. Beside him was a box of crackers and jug of water. The fishermen shouted but there was no answer-the strange man never moved a muscle-he kept staring out to sea. There was vengeance in his gaze. No wonder for both his legs had been cut off above the knees. How did he get there on the beach? Who cut off his legs? No one knows and no one ever will, for that mystery is as deep as the ocean from whence he came.

No one knows his real name. The French Acadians called him Jerome because he used to mutter an incomprehensible jargon—it sounded as though he were saying Jerome…—jer-rom-me. All sorts of linguists and foreigners were brought to see him in the hope he would speak—but, Jerome, it seems did not want to speak.

Always he looked out to sea. He seemed to be searching for someone. He would sit by the window and wine like a dog as he watched the ships got out to sea. Although of massive frame and quick tempered, Jerome was supposed to have the manners of a Prince. Some people say he was a Prince. I’ve seen his picture and his facial expressions have the stamp of a noble ancestry-he looks Italian. His nose was very thin and aristocratic. But, his violent tempers hid the real Jerome.

But, around such a mystery, more stories-speculative ones-have grown. I’ve spent many hours trying to find out the truth about Jerome. I’ve talked to people who knew him, but, still, the stories are varied and legion.

Some people say Jerome was just an ungrateful wretch-he never expressed any form of appreciation for the kindness extended him. That he would snatch out of the hands of little children; that he would steal hot food off the stove or spit at you if her were teased.

Others say Jerome was cast off by pirates, because whenever pirates were mentioned he would fly into horrible rages. Some say he was a political prisoner or a titled European whose lands had been wrongfully seized and that his legs and speech were removed so that he would no longer be a threat. Whatever the cause of the punishment, it seems his perpetrators wished to see him live, because the amputation was apparently skillfully made and he was left on the beach with crackers and water. Another plausible theory advanced is that Jerome was an ordinary sailor, who lost his legs in an accident and because he was of no further use to his Captain, he was beached.

There are others-and I met some of them who claimed Jerome did speak when surprised. They say he was unwilling to speak and that always he looked far off into space- he seemed to be thinking, hating- but never apparently planning revenge. Once in New York two women-of of them bearing a striking resemblance to Jerome- gave a letter to a Nova Scotian and asked him to deliver it to the Nova Scotia mystery man. He grabbed the letter and tore it into shreds without opening it.

Little wonder that the friendly French speaking people of this Shore shake their heads and say “On ne le saurais pas jamais qui etait Jerome”…one will never know who Jerome was…

I thought that if I could meet the oldest resident of this District de Clare, that perhaps they could tell me. So, I asked to meet the oldest people. To find the oldest was almost as difficult as discovering the true Jerome for it seems that in this quaint land of Nova Scotia, to be called the oldest person was to be the most highly honoured. I found that many aspired to this position. The rivalry was women who had all passed the 100 year mark. Finally, I was told buy the Post Master that La Vielle was a Madame Comeau. You see in French districts they always refer to the oldest woman as La Vielle. Madame Comeau was 106 years old. She could not say a word in English so we had to speak in French. Yes, she knew Jerome—she saw him when he first came there. Her guess was that he was a wealthy European who had committed some horrible crime and that he had been punished by having his legs amputated and that he dare not speak. She also offered the theory that in later years he wanted to speak but couldn’t because his long silence had paralyzed his vocal chords.

Madame Comeau herself told me how as a little girl she used to run and hide under the bed when Les Fourbans were reported off the Coast—she meant the pirates. You see, Madame Comeau was born in 1856-the last year of William IV’s reign or before the gracious Queen Victoria ascended the throne. All this time she has lived in the land of Acadia. She ahs seen the French speaking population of this Province grow from a few exiled families to its present proportions of more than 30,000. And you know the story of the Acadians who treked (sic) back to Nova Scotia is one of the most stirring tales in our colorful history. Longfellow in his poem Evangeline immortalized the expulsion of the Acadians, but, he told nothing of the great trek back to the land they loved. Great numbers of the poor exiled Acadians homesick and miserable, persecuted and prosecuted, gathered in Boston-about 12 years after they were expelled-and laid plans for a trek to their hold homes. They walked more than 1000 miles through the forests of Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. They died; the suffered, they bore children on the marsh; they were cruelly treated on route by the English, they were discouraged and advised to return—yet onward they marched. Is it any wonder they love their land today and have preserved its old customs. It was this little band of dauntless Acadians who were the pioneers of the present day French Acadian community.


Well, radio friends, we have heard four stories this morning--two of the present day and two from Nova Scotia’s past. We hope you have enjoyed them and that at some other time you’ll come with us again to the land of friendly people, history, romance, fish and ships-----but anyway, don’t forget- THIS IS CANADA TOO.

Announcer: You have heard John W. Fisher, well known journalist and radio commentator from Halifax. Mr. Fisher was the CBC’s guest on the Sunday morning series “Travel and Adventure”. This was the third and concluding talk given by our guest today who spoke to you under the title “THIS IS CANADA TOO”.

Source: Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, , , John W. Fisher, "Travelogue Talk (transcription)," December 27, 1942.

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