Jill Martin boasts deep maritime roots. In 1752, Jean George Bouteillier, known as ‘Passport George’, along with his wife, Sarah and their four children (aged 22, 17, 13 and 10) sailed from Rotterdam on the Sally to settle in Nova Scotia. It is believed an older son, John George, made the same journey on the Speedwell. From their home in the small duchy of Montbeliard on the French, Swiss, German border, these members of the Bouteillier family relocated in Lunenburg NS, and became the progenitors of all Bouteilliers – no matter how the name is spelled - in Nova Scotia.
The crossing was long and hard. The Sally left port on May 30th. 120 days later the ship arrived in Halifax where it remained 21 more days in quarantine in the harbour. Jean George’s wife died on the voyage. The Speedwell took 68 days to cross and spent 14 days in quarantine in the Halifax harbour.
But like all immigration stories, those who dared the journey, believed life would be better in their new country.
From the original passport:
“We the governor, President and Councillors of the Regency established at Montbeliard for his Serene Highness the Lord Duke of Wirtenburg declare that ….Jean George Bouteillier of Etabon…having informed us of his poverty and of his inability to make in this country a livelihood for himself and his family … has asked permission to seek his fortunes elsewhere and the grant for this purpose of a passport for security of his voyage. In consequence whereof, we the Governor and council require all such as may be required to grant free passage to the said Bouteillier and his family and to afford him all the help necessary for carrying out of his voyage under offer of reciprocity.
In witness whereof we have caused these presents to be sealed with the common seal of the Chancellery and signed by a secretary of the council, this fifteenth day of April, One Thousand Seven hundred and fifty two.”
Eight generations later, Jill and her husband live just a few thousand yards from her ancestors’ original homes.
Jill is a proud Come from Away who has come home.
The granddaughter of 6th generation Clarence Bouteillier who moved from Halifax in 1910 to settle in Saskatchewan, Jill was born in Saskatoon, grew up in Regina, attended U of S where she got her education degree. She began her teaching careerwith contracts in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba before moving to British Columbia. Two daughters and a Master’s Degree followed. Between 1977 and 2007, Jill taught high school English, history, creative writing, and Civilization in both Quesnel and Victoria.
In Victoria, as part of her contracts with the Ministry of Education, she sat on many committees both to create and mark provincial exams. Although the work was detailed and specific, the long hours were richly rewarded due to the camaraderie with other educators around the table.
But the lure of narrative was strong.
For decades, the story of her Nova Scotia ancestors percolated below the surface, threatening to break free. Of course she knew that her great-grandfather, Robert Jarvis Bouteillier, had been Governor of Sable Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He and his wife and six children had lived on the tiny spit of sand from 1884-1912. Stories of Sable Island, and her wonderful Aunt Trixie had been the stuff of conversations around dining room tables for as long as she could remember. Softly but insistently, the whispers in her ears grew louder.
In 2007, fate played its hand. Jill was offered a job first as the VP of LJSHS in Lunenburg, and then as Principal of Lunenburg Academy. Nova Scotia was calling her back.
From her house which overlooks the mighty Atlantic, 100 miles from Sable Island, the spell of the story would not be quieted. It was time to map out a storyboard and put her first tentative thoughts to paper.
In 2012, she got serious about her research. In 2015, Return to Sable became a real live book. Jill is happy to share her family’s story with others who have been captivated with Sable Island – wild horses, seals, shipwrecks, ghosts, and hurricanes – the island serves it all with reckless abandon.
She proudly writes under the pseudonym Jill Martin-Bouteillier in honour of her family.