History of Embrun/Saint Augustine-de-Catherine/Saint Augustine-de-Catherine from 1848-1856
Saint Augustine-de-Catherine: Saint Augustine-de-Catherine from 1848-1856
Connection to the Outside World
In January 1848, the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada issued a request for a road to be built from Bytown (now Ottawa) to Saint Augustine-de-Catherine.
The corduroy road's construction began on January 14th, 1848. The road was completed and reached the small community on March 14th. Shocked at the ribbon of logs stretching as far as he could see, Jonathan Smithson, a young resident of Saint Augustine-de-Catherine, got on a horse and traveled down the road. He reached Bytown then rode back to Saint Augustine-de-Catherine, telling tales of the road winding through forests and fields to Bytown.
People in Saint Augustine-de-Catherine decided to use the road to export lumber. The road became known as the Saint Augustine-de-Catherine road and lasted until 1951.
This road brought prosperity to Saint Augustine-de-Catherine in the 1850s. A schoolhouse was built in 1853, when the village had 145 people. That year, the Saint Augustine-de-Catherine road was rebuilt out of cobblestone.
A small chapel was built in July 1853 to replace the log cabin used for religious ceremonies. Some people began rebuilding their homes out of stone. By 1854 nearly half the homes in Saint Augustine-de-Catherine were made out of stone. And the main road was rebuilt out of cobblestones, just like the Saint Augustine-de-Catherine road that branched off it. An interesting fact to note: Part of the route the Saint Augustine-de-Catherine road took is now a road in Embrun called Saint Augustine Road.
Some newcomers wanted to live closer to the river. However, the people who were already in Saint Augustine-de-Catherine told them not to start their home there, as the floodwaters extended out in that direction. But most of these newcomers didn't listen. They built their homes right by the river anyway. However, when the floods started in the following Spring, they understood their mistake. But many of them already spent all their money on a home by the river, and couldn't afford to move to a better spot. They tried to sell off their homes, but not many were going to fall for a home that would be pounded by floods the next spring. The 'river-dwellers' as the people living by the river were now called, eventually managed to sell their homes at a very low price. This started a cycle of the poorer people in the town living by the river.
In 1855, the Citizens Committee of Saint Augustine-de-Catherine decided to build a church in the town. It was completed on May 15, 1856. That day, the town was renamed Embrun after the town of Embrun, Hautes-Alpes in France.
So ended Saint Augustine-de-Catherine and began Embrun.