The Grove

The grove in Le Petit Bois early 1900s
An early 20th century picture postcard of the grove in Le Petit Bois. (Photograph courtesy Centre acadien.)

The ruins of stone walls in the woodland behind the Église Sainte-Marie are the remains of a picturesque and whimsical recreational village built by the Eudist priests who taught at the university. Rarely able to afford the trans-Atlantic ocean crossing to their homes in France, the teaching Fathers vacationed in Le Bosquet – ‘the grove’ – on the edge of the campus, investing it with their energy and creativity.

Workers constructing a pavilion in the grove
Workers pose for a photo during the construction of a pavilion in Le Bosquet in Le Petit Bois. (Photograph courtesy Centre acadien.)

From the late 1890s to the 1940s, the Eudist fathers built primitive buildings, walking trails, gardens, ornamental twig fences and even some very substantial stone walls. The priests built their own small cabins and spacious open-air pavilions with the help of the students of the college.

A flower garden in the grove
One Father’s flower garden, sheltered by stone walls. The white objects on top of the stone pillars are bones – the spinal vertebrae of a whale found on the shore nearby. (Photograph courtesy Centre acadien.)

There were beautiful flower gardens enclosed with wooden fences and tall stone walls. It has been said that some of the priests imported their favourite flowers and shrubs from Europe, and some claim that a few of these exotic species can still be found in the woodland today. At its peak, the grove had a chapel, grottos with religious statues, a clay tennis court for summer, an outdoor skating rink for winter and a stately avenue lined with pillars linking it to the campus.

Postcard of a pavilion in the grove
A postcard of a large two-story pavilion built in a style similar to the university’s main building. (Photograph courtesy Centre acadien.)

The grove was a favourite spot for visitors. It was pictured on souvenir postcards and was often used as a backdrop for the college’s sports teams and club photographs. With the departure of the Eudist teachers, the vacation village fell into disrepair. Only the ruins of some of the stone grottos remain today.

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