from Pubnico’s Historic Acadian Village/Le Village Historique Acadien de la Pubnico
The village of Pubnico on the Southern tip of Nova Scotia is a close knit community with a shared history of valiance and hard work. Founded almost 400 years ago, in 1653, by Philippe Muis-d’Entremont, his descendents still populate his village. Originally of French descent and Roman Catholic faith, they developed a close relationship with the Mi’kmaq people in the area and their lives intermingled. “Oh, there is most likely a little Mi’kmaq blood in each of us!” joked Réal d’Entremont. The Mi’kmaq adopted Catholicism, there was intermarriage between the cultures, and these people developed a unique self-reliant identity quite separate from their French and British counterparts which made sense as they were physically isolated from them, as well. They came to know themselves as Acadians. Pubnico is one of three areas in Atlantic Canada where the Acadians relocated after the Great Deportation in 1755, thus the history of this community is one of the oldest in Canada. Today, the identity of the Acadian people of Pubnico is strongly rooted in honouring their past as they know stories of each ancestor for generations. Thus, a visit to Pubnico’s Historic Acadian Village/Le Village Historique Acadien de la Pubnico will take you back in time and enable you to envision that history as it is re-enacted before your eyes.
And, when you go there, there will be the scent of the fresh salt water from the sea mingled with the breeze coupled with the warm, spicy, hot from the oven Famous Pubnico Molasses Cookie. Edith d’Entremont is known to be the grandmother who first baked this recipe and it is prepared daily at the Historic Village and shared with visitors around the globe. Most villagers have this recipe and make it in their own home.
This particular Pubnico Molasses Cookie is most definitely a Taste of Pubnico. Bernice d’Entremont took me to the Village immediately after viewing d’Eons Rappie Pie Making. We met Roger d’Entremont, the Manager of the Village, who we visited with at the end of the pre-season tour. But, first, I make the cookies that I will forever remember as The Famous Pubnico Molasses Cookie. Then, I will share my tour of the village with you.
Edith d’Entremont’s recipe for these cookies is on page 65 of this cookbook, available for sale at The Historic Acadian Village bookstore and souvenir shop.
Theirs did not have crinkles on top. These were baked a minute longer, and developed crinkles. The Famous Pubnico Molasses Cookie is soft and smooth on top. But, now I know that a little more time in the oven changes the crust on the cookie. I like them better the original way.
Mis en place. Lots of molasses in this recipe, and as I compared mine to the one I ate at the village, I would guess that they used Fancy Molasses in their recipe. I did not.
Preparing the dough is very straight forward. The process is the same as any cookie recipe.
Handprint so you can see the density of the dough. Refrigerate overnight.
Take the dough out of the fridge and bring to room temperature to roll.
I thought the first batch was rolled thick enough to duplicate the tasting experience at the village. It was not. The cookies were tasty, but not soft enough.
The texture is important. The Famous Pubnico Molasses Cookie is soft.
Above, you can see the difference in the thicknesses of the dough. To the left, my original roll; and the right is the thickness necessary to replicate this cookie and present it as it should be.
After refrigeration, the dough is gorgeous to work with. Molasses cookies are grandmother cookies, aren’t they? Whenever I bite into any molasses cookie, I instantly think of my own grandmother, and her favourite Molasses Gingerbread Cookie. As this cookie is a taste of Pubnico, my grandmother’s cookie is a taste of my childhood.
Home in Edmonton, the garden springing to life, it was gratifying to sit outside enjoying a Pubnico Molasses Cookie. One bite, and I was instantly back in the town and at Pubnico’s Historic Acadian Village/Le Village Historique Acadien de la Pubnico. This is a place the entire community has invested time and hard work to create. It is now owned by the province and employes a good sized staff in the summer that brings this history to life and enables visitors to participate in the traditional Acadian lifestyle and culture.
The statue in front of the entrance to the historic village is that of Philippe Mius-d’Entremont.
Philippe was Réal d’Entremont’s great great great great great great great grandfather. Yes. Seven generations back. Réal has a granddaughter, and Philippe goes back 9 generations for her. Réal instantaneously listed the names of each of his seven great grandparents. This community knows its roots.
A painting of Philippe, above.
Who doesn’t love shopping? There are Acadian history books, recipe books, story books – everything and anything about this culture available here. I did need more time than I had to browse.
An excellent introduction to the village and the history and culture of the Acadian people of Pubnico is written here with photographs and maps. I photographed it to read later. The information is succinct and fascinating.
Today, (shoulder season) the village is not open. But, the beautiful blue sky was expansive and welcoming and it was easy to imagine this village a couple of hundred years back.
Réal’s mother was born in this house. All of the buildings have been moved from various parts of the community to recreate this village.
You can see how they used to stack the hay, or grasses, below.
Open theatre is held here in the summer. The audience sits on the hill and the stage is in the building, below.
The modern vehicle jars the time period depicted back to present day. Yet, the peace and tranquility of this expanse of land cannot be underplayed. This is a gorgeous little piece of paradise and it is very easy to understand why people would have settled here and how they did live in the original time period.
When the village is open, employees are dressed in period costumes going about the chores and crafts of the day. There are valuable artifacts on site to be shared with visitors. Réal immediately picked up this harpoon to show us as he has actually harpooned a huge fish before.
Any idea of what it is that he is holding, above?
A grinder or sharpener that would be used during the summer.
Salt cod and herring used to be packaged in wooden crates….
Guests can go out in a boat in the summer.
The life of the community has always revolved around fishing, and lobster fishing the last hundred years, or so. There will be people making nets, carving lobster pegs, teaching children and adults alike about the crafts and work of this people’s past.
The wooden boardwalk took me back to my own childhood at my grandma’s village in Clive, Alberta. My sister and I would play by the railroad tracks on the swing set at the end of the wooden boardwalk in her village, for hours. This walk takes people to a wilderness area to learn about the ecosystem.
I can imagine the fields filled with children and families, horses, and animals, all busy with the work at hand in the day of old. Those times past are so intertwined with who we are now. Who we have become, and why. The people of Pubnico know who they are. They know from whence they came. They know their stories and their history. This is such a rarity within any community of Canada and I was overwhelmed with my personal discovery of this jewel of a town and its people: the keepers of the memories and the forgers of their future.
After a day in the sun, working at the tasks at hand, one must relax in the coolness of the restaurant on site with a lemonade, a slice of rappie pie, or a variety of other concoctions offered.
We didn’t have much time to visit with Roger, though he was a most gracious host. The cookie? Unforgettable.
A taste of Pubnico that I have brought home to share with my family, here.
The Famous Pubnico Molasses Cookie
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup margarine (i put butter)
- 1 cup dark molasses
- 1 large egg
- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon each of ginger , cloves, cinnamon and salt
- 1/2 cup milk
Pre-heat oven to 350F
Cream sugar and butter
Add molasses and egg; blend well
Combine dry ingredients: add to the above, alternately with milk
Bring dough together; refrigerate tightly wrapped
Roll to 1/4 inch thick (this is quite thick; these cookies should not be thin)
Cut into shapes (They are round at Le Village Historique Acadien)
Bake at 350F for 10 minutes; serve warm or cold
Delicious with milk
Dough can be kept in the fridge, wrapped tightly, and cookies baked, as needed.