An avid fisherman and duck hunter from Galliano has created a massive Cajun collection of memorabilia that preserves his family’s history and culture. Coonie Lefort says that his collection is a testament to the hard work and perseverance of the people who have lived “down the bayou” for generations.
the start of a cajun collection
Lefort’s love for collecting Cajun artifacts began when he was just a teenager. He points to an old wooden oar hanging on the wall and recalls, “This is the piece that pretty much started my whole collection right here, washed up on the rocks on Timbalier Island.” Lefort believes the long wooden oar may have been used by pirates who frequented coastal Louisiana. This oar sparked Lefort’s curiosity and began his journey of collecting and preserving the history of Cajun culture.
living off the land
Lefort’s collection includes many items of everyday life from his Cajun ancestors. He has turned a large attic into a private museum, filled with camp furnishings and old dugout pirogues that were made from hollowed out cypress logs. Lefort explains, “These people live hard lives.They lived in the marsh the whole season in a little bitty camp. And they would have a pot belly stove to warm themselves and cook on, no electricity, no running water, and they would live off the fat of the land.”
cajun collection featured on tv
wood carvings that tell stories
Lefort’s collection includes 800 decoys from some of the top artists in the region, including carvings by father and son Ronnie and Ben Flynn. The elder Flynn began making duck decoys for hunting when he was just six years old.
giant fish preserved in wood carving
Chris Weaver, another artist in Lefort’s collection, carves exact replicas of fish caught in coastal waters. Weaver’s largest carving is a wooden replica of a large amberjack that Lefort speared while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Weaver explains, “When you fish enough and you handle these fish over a period of time, you learn the shape and you learn the different poses that you can carve these fish in.”
For Coonie Lefort, his collection of Cajun artifacts is not just a hobby, it’s a legacy that he is passing down to future generations. He explains, “You know, my whole family did that all their lives, so I did it too.” From old wooden oars to preserved alligators and hand-carved decoys, Lefort’s collection represents the Cajun people who have lived down the bayou for generations.
Where is this collection and can anyone visit?
My father was a trapper and fisherman out of larose. We had 2 of those dug out pirogues. I have one on the old had carved paddles and an old shell bucket. My father carved a lot of decoys that he put to work for harvesting food.
I trapped during my winter breaks from college to help the family.
At this point, the collection is private.
I knew Mr. Earl Fedderine from down the Bayou.
He was a fantastic wood Carver. Could some of his
carvings be featured here?
My grandfather, and my perrian where duck carvers, and I really would like to get in touch with Mr. Cookie to see if he has any of my family ducks in his collection
Dear Mr Lafort, I watched the WVUE special about your collection of acadian history and would like to donate something if you are interested? My father passed away and had a small collection of decoys from JR Flynn that went through hurricane Katrina. They need to be wiped off slightly but you are welcome to them. They are signed and labeled on the bottom of each one. Please let me know. Christy Wildey
Enjoyed the heart of Louisiana segment!