At the Home of Dedier Comeau and His Family in St. Alphonse

[ Jérôme près du poêle chez Dédier ]

Jerome near the stove in Dedier's home, Inconnu,

When Jean Nicolas left Clare, another home had to be found for Jerome. So it was that in 1870 the mystery man ended up in the home of Nicolas’ brother-in-law, Dedier Comeau. At the time, the village of St. Alphonse was still called Cheticamp or Petit-Cheticamp. When Jerome arrived in the Comeau household, Dedier and Elisabeth (Zabeth) already had four children. Nine more would be born, who would grow up having Jerome as a playmate. The family received a small allowance for his care.

This large family lived in a rather small house by the side of the road, of which nothing remains today. The house served as a coach stop for the village. In 19th-Century Nova Scotia, coach stops were at once post offices, where people could pick up their mail, and stops along the stagecoach runs. Besides carrying mail from town to town, stagecoaches brought passengers and tourists through St. Mary’s Bay. With the arrival of the railway at the end of the 1870s, the coach stop lost some of its importance. However, since the nearest train station was inland near Meteghan, the house by the side of the road continued to serve as a meeting place in St. Alphonse. In 1902, the large family moved into a new house higher up the hill, built by Dedier and his sons. Dedier died that same year. Rumor has it that building the house was what killed him. Jerome stayed with Zabeth in this house for 10 years, until his own death in 1912.

Jerome’s life in the Comeau home was simple and routine. Jerome was far too handicapped by his amputation to do the manual work men usually did — chopping wood, hunting, doing the chores, plowing, fishing — and his silence made it difficult to communicate with him. He would get up in the morning, look out the window, and sometimes go out in the sun in summer. Otherwise, he spent his time keeping warm beside the stove. He ate his meals with the family and slept in his own room.

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