Jean Bernard

P.E.I. historian Jean Bernard says he has completed the last volume of his books on Acadian genealogy. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

A Prince Edward Island historian has published the last of seven volumes of the genealogy of Acadian families of the Island. 

Jean Bernard said while the first Acadian families arrived on the Island in the 1600s, very little had been published on the genealogy. 

He decided to fill the gap, a challenge he thought would take a few months but instead turned into years. Bernard said the family name Arsenault with its many spellings became an entire volume of its own. 

The historian also had to convince others his idea of compiling the genealogy of the Acadians on P.E.I. could be done. 

The seven volumes contain 4,600 pages and are all in French. Bernard has begun translating the first volume into English. 

Bernard said his intent in researching and writing the books was to help people to be able to retrace their family roots.  

"It was like doing a puzzle with no cover [of the] box," he said of the work he did to compile the information.

He says people's reactions after finally finding answers about their family's lineage can be quite emotional.

"Some people would just melt down and cry. That is just kind of an experience that's hard to forget." 

With files from Island Morning