Categories: Male Authors - Francophone Authors - Authors of Non-Fiction - North
Source: Gérard Sirois, Communications New Brunswick
Born in Edmundston, N.B., on August 7, 1936, Robert Pichette studied at the Académie Conway and Collège Saint-Louis in Edmundston and at the Collège de Saint-Laurent in Montréal. He was a radio and television host and announcer, and is a retired employee of the New Brunswick and Canadian governments. He was Deputy Minister to Premier Louis J. Robichaud, N.B.’s first director of cultural affairs and a representative of the Commissioner of Official Languages for the Atlantic provinces, among other things. He co-authored the Official Languages of New Brunswick Act, and he designed New Brunswick’s flag. Journalist, columnist and editorial writer for newspapers such as L’Acadie Nouvelle, the Telegraph Journal and The Globe & Mail, he is also the author of 20 or so books, mainly on Acadian and New Brunswick history.
How has New Brunswick influenced your work?
Very early on, starting at the Collège Saint-Louis in Edmundston, I developed a fascination for history in general, and New Brunswick history in particular, and then Acadian history – so much so that I was a founding member of the Société historique du Madawaska, in 1954, at the age of 17. I was already writing historic vignettes in the weekly Le Madawaska newspaper, strongly encouraged by its owner and editor, the late Gaspard Boucher.
With time, equipped with a fuller stock of knowledge and, in particular, a bona fide research and writing methodology, I nearly always featured New Brunswick in my books and other publications.
It goes without saying that New Brunswick was naturally and constantly the main driving force behind my editorials and columns, both in English and in French.
What is your favourite New Brunswick book, and why?
In my library, I’ve kept a book that has been and continues to be consulted so much that it is falling apart at the seams. Despite its intellectual and official nature, it is a fascinating book! It is Alan Rayburn's Geographical Names of New Brunswick, published in Ottawa, in 1975. Alas, there is no French version of this indispensable, if somewhat dated, work, which contains a wealth of historic and toponymic information. In it, we clearly see the traces of the three cultures – Francophone, Anglophone, and First Nations – that shaped New Brunswick. This work should be re-edited, expanded, corrected and distributed widely because it is such a faithful reflection of New Brunswick.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?
There are two. The first had nothing to do with literature, quite the contrary! From September 1963 to November 1970, I was first the Junior Executive Assistant to Premier Louis J. Robichaud, and then Executive Assistant, that is, his Deputy Minister. That was an exciting time! Louis Robichaud, a pragmatic humanist, gifted with superior intelligence, turned the provincial governance upside down in a positive and lasting way. It was a privilege to be associated daily with the artisan of these radical changes, which modernized New Brunswick.
The second flabbergasted me. I should have known better. In 2006, the Centre d’études acadiennes at the Université de Moncton – an institution that I saw conceived and developed in Louis Robichaud’s kitchen – published one of my books: Le pays appelé l’Acadie : Réflexions sur des commémorations. I had written a biting foreword, which I would not change one bit, and all of the "intellectual" world (and other not-so-intellectual characters!) stuck their noses in. They wanted to censor the work, which proved that I was right, and there were even very real threats of legal action. The Board of Governors of the UdeM were so alarmed that they brought the offended personalities in to express to them the Université’s "deep regrets."
Criticism is not permitted in Acadian New Brunswick (it does not seem to matter as much elsewhere in the Acadian Maritimes). Don’t cry for me Madawaska!
|Officer - Natinoal Order of the Legion of Honour - 2016|
|Honorary Doctor of Public Administration, Université de Moncton - 2014|
|Order of New Brunswick - 2006|
|Honorary Doctor of Letters, Université Sainte-Anne (N.S.) - 1998|
|Merit citation, National Newspaper Awards, “Columns” category - 1994|
|Prix France-Acadie - 1990|
Pichette en pièces détachées : éditoriaux, chroniques et commentaires
Entre « quêteux » on s’haït!
Après avoir étonné parce qu’elle est hors norme, la nomination d’Herménégilde Chiasson au poste de lieutenant-gouverneur du Nouveau-Brunswick suscite encore une controverse. […] Au lieu de vilipender une personnalité acadienne de premier plan, on aurait intérêt à considérer que la nomination de M. Chiasson au plus haut poste de l’État provincial constitue une première historique. En effet, pour la première fois dans l’histoire du Nouveau-Brunswick, les trois premiers personnages de l’État – le lieutenant-gouverneur, le juge en chef et le premier ministre – sont des Acadiens et, qui plus est, tous trois sont diplômés de l’Université de Moncton, qui marque cette année son 40e anniversaire. Sont-ce là des séquelles de la Déportation?Éditorial dans L’Acadie Nouvelle, le vendredi 12 septembre 2003.