Bathurst bishop discovers 16th century books in diocese basement
Bishop Daniel Jodoin had no idea of treasures hiding in the basement library until flood cleanup
An ancient treasure has been discovered in the basement library of the Roman Catholic diocese in Bathurst.
Staff were cleaning up after a burst pipe flooded the basement when they uncovered religious texts dating back to 16th century Europe.
Bishop Daniel Jodoin says the discovery was a shock.
"I didn't know it was so old. I thought it was maybe 100 years old, but not 400 years old," he said.
Amateur historian Albert Dugas says it appears all of the books were printed in Europe.
However neither Dugas nor Jodoin know how they ended up in the library.
"The priest came from France to Louisbourg and from Louisbourg, Nova Scotia to here … but we are not sure," said Jodoin.
He says most of the books they have discovered are scripture, written in Greek and Latin, and some are bound in lamb skin.
"For us, just to touch these books, we have the impression [of going] back in history and to be with people of this time — people at the time of Jacques Cartier touched that book, so it's special."
The oldest book is from 1589 and Jodoin says the collection also includes books written in old French and books written in Mi'kmaq.
At the Bathurst Heritage Museum, archivist Florence Gray, who spends her days looking at old records and books, says these texts are something special.
"When you mentioned that to me, my heart really started beating because I've seen records written in that year, but I've never seen a book. I'm thinking if that's [Father Pierre Maillard's] collection … he had to bring them by boat, because that's the only way they could get here at the time," Gray said.
Jodoin says the books are copies of originals and do not have a large monetary value.
He says the collection will remain at the library of the Bathurst Roman Catholic Diocese office.