A little history about Val d’Espoir.
By Réal-G Bujold.
Val d’Espoir was born around 1917-18 when Antoine Poirier, parish priest of Cap d’Espoir wished to establish new settlements inland, a few kilometres from Percé. Many Gaspesian from the shore went to prepare the ground of the little valley and temporarily settled there until 1923 when a few families permenantly settled there. They make a l diving out of culture, forest and some fishing. The next ten years, the village was a colony totally dependent on Cap d’Espoir.
The village is first called ST-Antoine then ST-Phocas before taking the beautiful name of Val d’Espoir around 1930. The Cisterciens Fathers mainly coming from Holland founded a Monastery as the priest Edmond Plourde a Gaspesian colonisation- missionary built a school-chapel.
During the economic crash of 1929, some Franco-Americans as wel l as people from Beauce,Megantic,Québec and “Bas St Laurent” settled in the valley. In 1932, a first church was built. The village was then recognized by the Canon Law and could now accommodate the first parish priest, Priest Albert St Laurent who will be the sole leader for 32 years.
General stores, sawmills, forges, a health centre, restaurants, cooperatives,a door and window factory, a post office, schools, etc… grew here and there on can road III,IV,V,VI,VIII of Val d’Espoir. As the population grew, a new Parish, St Gabriel de Gaspé, was created around 1935 north-west of Val d’Espoir.
In 1938, after the Cisterciens left, Bishop François-Xavier Ross of Gaspé ask to “Clercs de St Viateur” from Joliette to open an agricultural school which will blossom for 25 years. Brother Réal Desrosiers will be an important figure at that school.
During the 40’s and 50’s, the population continued to grow. The population was around 1800 people, about 250 families. In 1955, a new church and presbytery was built and the former 1932 church become a multifunction hall: Housing shows, a skating ring, etc… Youth education was provided in about ten schools as well as “les Filles de Marie de l’Assomption”’s convent school.
However, the 60’s saw a decline in the little valley and many residents, following a devil plan from “bureau d’Aménagement de l’Est du Québec”, leave Val d’Espoir for elsewhere, Montreal and Québec mainly where they join the Gaspesian diaspora. A few can road disappear, the agriculture school close its doors in 1961. The village is in the middle of rout, many back-country little parishes closed but, thanks to fights and many requests of all kind, it resisted.
During the following decades, Val d’Espoir came back to life and prosperity. Many yearly activities have been created such as; The famousCarnaval which will have its 45th edition in 2010. A Pionners Festival happened in 1989 and a Reunion with “La Grande Aventure de Val d’Espoir’s” a play about Val d’Espoir foundation and history which was presented in the church in 1995. Since eight years, the traditional “Grande traverse de ski de fond” has stop in the heart of the village near the end of February.
Close to 190 famillies, a population of about 400 souls now lives in Val d’Espoir. People from everywhere lately settled in the village and are part of its ecologic and economic blossoming: “Produire la santé ensemble”, “la Coopérative de Solidarité Rocher Percé, les Bio- Jardins, le Musée La Vieille Église”, le théâtre Les Val-Heureux, La Corporation de Sports”, etc.
In 2007, Val d’Espoir had its 75th anniversary and is now part of the Municipality of Percé .
Réal Gabriel Bujold.
Val d’Espoir history books:
-Val d’Espoir, à fleur de souvenance, Laval 1978.
-Val d’Espoir, la huche aux farfouilleux, Laval 1979