Joseph Octave Arsenault

Joseph Octave Arsenault

Served during the following dates: 1867;1870;1872;1873;1876;1879;1882;1886;1890 as LIB

ARSENAULT, HONOURABLE JOSEPH OCTAVE, farmer, teacher, and merchant; b. 5 August 1828 in Cascumpec, son of Meleme Arsenault and Bibienne Poirier; m. 15 April 1861 Gertrude Gaudet, and they had five sons and four daughters, including Joseph Felix* and Aubin
Edmond*; Roman Catholic; d. 14 December 1897 in Abrams Village.
Arsenault, initially a Liberal and later a Conservative, was first elected to the House of Assembly in the general election of 1867 for 3rd Prince. He was re-elected in the general elections of 1870. 1872, 1873, 1876, 1879, 1882, 1886, and 1890. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in the general election of 1893. In August 1870 Arsenauh broke with the Liberal Party to join the Conservatives under the leadership of James C. Pope*. He did this in protest of the government's refusal tc give Catholic schools the financial grants that Peter Mclntyre, the Bishop of Charlottetown, hac requested. Several other Catholic Liberals defected, the Liberal administration was ended, and a coalition government was formed. Arsenault remainec a Conservative and was appointed to Executive Council by Premier Pope, where he served from 2: July 1873 to 4 September 1876. Later he was appointed to Executive Council by Premier W. W Sullivan and Premier Neil McLeod and served between 11 March 1879 and 21 April 1891. On IS February 1895, he became the first Island Acadiar. to be appointed to the Senate, where he servec until his death.
Two of Arsenault's sons followed in his political footsteps. Joseph Felix* was a successful candidate for the Conservatives in 3rd Prince in the general elections of 1897 and 1900, and Aubir. Edmond* was premier from 1917 to 1919.
A resident of Abrams Village, Arsenault was first educated in the local schools of Urbainville and Miscouche. Later he attended Central Academy in Charlottetown and achieved his first class teaching certificate. Around 1847, Arsenault began a teaching career that lasted 18 years. In 1865 Arsenault left teaching and opened a general store in Abrams Village, where he had taught for 12 years. In 1874 he expanded his business and opened a store in Wellington. This new store became his commercial base.
In the 1870s, Arsenault bought a fish plant. He first concentrated on processing mackerel, extending his interests into lobster in the 1880s. He built a plant at Cape Egmont and soon became one of the leading packers in the region. In an international competition held in Jamaica in 1891, he won the gold medal for his canned lobster. On 23 May 2001, Arsenault was inducted, posthumously, into the Junior Achievement Prince Edward Island Business Hall of Fame.
Arsenault did not lose his interest m education and French-language instruction once he entered the business and political worlds. In 1868, while serving as a Member of the House of Assembly, he obtained the Assembly's approval for a £5 bonus to be be paid to toteacher competent to teach French. He also served as a member of the Board of Education from 1879 to 1891.
The advancement of the Acadian people was one of Arsenault's major concerns. He was on the committee that organized the first national convention of Acadians in 1881. At that convention, Arsenault was elected second vice-president of the colonization society. This body was set up to encourage Acadians to settle on unoccupied land in Quebec and New Brunswick so that they could enjoy a more prosperous life. Joseph Arsenault died 14 December 1897.
Gertrude Arsenault was the daughter of Felix Gaudet and Marine Poirier. She died in Summerside on 18 Marc

References: Acadiens p. 86: DCB XII 1891-1900 pp. 39-41; Guardian 24 May 2001: Island Magazine 33 1993. Guide to abbreviations

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