Goyetche Family History & Genealogy

It Began With One

Basque Fisherman

It’s an uncommon and unusual name. Unlike others with more common surnames, there are a relatively small number of Goyetche family members. In Canada most are concentrated in Nova Scotia. Others are scattered across Canada, France, the United States, South America and the South Pacific. in the early 1970’s, inspired by conversations with my grandmother Maria of Petit de Grat, Nova Scotia, I began tracking down those who share the Goyetche surname in towns and cities across Canada and
elsewhere in the world. Thus began a life-long journey to research our family history and genealogy. I discovered that, with only a few exceptions, those who share the Goyetche surname in North America trace their origins to Jean Goyetche. He was a Basque fisherman born in 1763 in the Bayonne region of France, who arrived in North America sometime before 1793. It is believed he may have spent time on the islands of St. Pierre & Miquelon or at Louisbourg before finally settling in Arichat on Isle Madame in Nova Scotia. In the more than 225 years since Jean’s arrival, the Goyetche family in North America has grown to include some 2,200 descendants. They span nine generations and encompass more than 700 family groups.
Basque whalers on the hunt - National Geographic The Goyetche family has included a number of colourful characters. Among them was Martin Goyetche, who travelled with the pirates Pierre and Jean Laffite, and married one of the Laffite daughters; Dominique Goyetche, who was sentenced to prison on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific; and Billy Goyetche, freight-hauler, undertaker and police constable in St. Peter's, NS. Historical profiles of the islands St. Pierre & Miquelon and of Isle Madame in Nova Scotia include a number of references to Goyetche family members.
2019 by Darryl Goyetche. All rights reserved

The Basques in Atlantic Canada

Basque fishermen began using Isle Madame in Nova Scotia as a summer base for their North Atlantic fishing and whaling expeditions perhaps as early as the 16th century. There is evidence they were making yearly fishing and whaling voyages to Atlantic Canada by around 1525, and possibly as many as ten years earlier. Among the attractions in that early period of European exploration were the immense herds of walrus that invaded the shores of Isle Madame on a regular basis. Even once the last walrus had left, the seas around Isle Madame continued to yield a sufficient bounty to justify a continued European presence. In time a number of the Basque fishermen, who had been using Isle Madame as a fishing station for generations, chose to settle permanently. While they were eventually assimilated, through intermarriage with their Acadian neighbors, their family names, Goyetche, DesRoches, Baccardax, and Josse (Joyce) may be found in Isle Madame to this day. On the islands of Saint-Pierre & Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland, an historical profile notes that the current population with Basque origins can trace its roots back to immigrants who came over from the mid to late 18th century. "These fishermen and peasants mostly came from Iparralde. Basque migration was at its peak at the end of the 18th century, however not all remained in Saint-Pierre & Miquelon, some returned to Iparralde after two or three years. This migration to Saint-Pierre & Miquelon was organized by the Goyetche family."