The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


BOURDEAU, Augustin Cornelius (1834-1916) and (first wife) Charlotte (c. 1836-1883) and (second wife) Martha (1842-1901)

A bilingual French Canadian evangelist, Augustin Bourdeau, with his brother, Daniel Bourdeau, is best known for pioneering the Seventh-day Adventist message among both English and French communities in Vermont and Quebec. 1EGWLM 794.2

A. C. Bourdeau was brought up a Baptist in northern Vermont and at a young age preached in the local French immigrant communities. In the early 1850s Augustin married Charlotte Saxby. In 1855 Charlotte's brother, William L. Saxby, introduced the Sabbatarian Adventist message to Augustin. By the next summer Augustin began to preach his new faith. For the next quarter century, with few interruptions, he preached and established new churches on both sides of the Canadian border, but in particular in the eastern townships of southern Quebec. Other ministers, including his brother, Daniel Bourdeau, were associated with him in his work in Quebec, but Augustin “stands out as the one who had the most influence in the conversion of members and the establishment of churches.” During this period Bourdeau also served as president of the Vermont Conference (1865-1870) and president of the Quebec Conference (1880-1884). From 1884 to 1888 he engaged in evangelism in central Europe. On returning from Europe, he spent his later years of ministry in a number of places in Canada and the United States, often involving work with French-speaking communities. 1EGWLM 794.3

As early as 1861 Ellen White expressed her respect for the “judgment and experience” of the Bourdeau brothers in their evangelistic endeavors. However, the bulk of her correspondence with A. C. Bourdeau dates from 1886, while he was working in Europe, during a low period in his spiritual experience and effectiveness as a preacher. “Your preaching will do but little good till you are a converted man,” she urged. “You live in a past experience instead of having a fresh experience daily. … Your discourses are dry and spiritless.” Of Martha, Augustin's second wife (sister of George I. Butler), Ellen White noted that she was “born with an inheritance of discouragement.” In a stirring letter of encouragement written in 1887, Ellen pointed Martha to some verses of Charles Wesley's hymn: “Plenteous grace with Thee is found, Grace to pardon all my sins; Let the healing streams abound. …” See also Ellen White's 1883 letter of comfort to Charlotte, who was on her deathbed. 1EGWLM 794.4

See: Obituary: “Augustin Cornelius Bourdeau,” Review, Aug. 17, 1916, p. 16; obituary: “Charlotte Bourdeau,” Review, Dec. 18, 1883, p. 797; obituary: “Martha A. Bourdeau,” Review, Sept. 10, 1901, p. 598; Denis Fortin, Adventism in Quebec, p. 109; search term “A. C. Bordeaux” or “A. C. Bourdeaux” or “A. C. Bourdeau” in Review and Herald online collection,; Ellen G. White, Lt 31, 1861 (c. 1861); Lt 52, 1886 (Nov. 20); Lt 35, 1887 (Feb. 6); Lt 28, 1883 (Sept. 3). 1EGWLM 794.5