AcadianAcadians are the original French settlers of parts of the North Eastern region of North America comprising what is now the Canadian Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
During the 17th century, about a hundred French families were established in Acadia. The Acadians avoided the disputes between the French and the British and developed friendly relations with the Aboriginal Mi'kmaq , learning their hunting and fishing techniques.
The British Government, doubting the neutrality of the Acadians, demanded that the they take an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. The Acadians refused.
British Governor Charles Lawrence decided to deport the Acadians from Nova Scotia and dispersed them among the 13 English colonies, from Massachusetts to Georgia. Several of these colonies refused to take in any refugees, such was the case of Virginia who deported the Acadians to England and France.
Families were separated and cast away in boats, where one third perished. Many, however, managed to hide in the woods or return to their homes over the following decades.
In 1764, the Acadians were granted permission to return to Nova Scotia; however, they were prohibited from settling in any one area in large numbers. Some Acadians therefore spread out along the Nova Scotia coast and remain scattered across Nova Scotia to this day.
Other Acadians sought refuge in France, especially in the slums of Nantes. The French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon near Newfoundland became a safe harbour for many Acadian families until they were once again deported by the British in 1778 and 1793.
The Acadians today inhabit the North and East shore of New Brunswick, the area around Moncton, the Magdalen Islands, and smaller pockets in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia such as Chéticamp, Clare, Annapolis Valley, Halifax-Dartmouth, Pomquet, Richmond and Sydney, Nova Scotia. . There are also people of Acadian ancestry in the American state of Maine and the province of Quebec. Some of the Acadians who were deported in 1755 were encouraged by the French King to settle in Louisiana, where their descendants, the Cajuns, have become a dominant cultural influence in many a Louisiana Parish (County).
The Acadians virtually disappeared from history for a century after the Grand Dérangement (Great Disruption), as they call the Acadian Expulsion, but being hardy and determined, they survived and experienced a minor cultural and political revolution in the 1880's.
In 1847, an epic poem by American writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline, was loosely based on the events surrounding the 1755 deportation. The poem became an American classic.
Today Acadians are a vibrant minority, particularly in New Brunswick and Maine.
Acadians speak a dialect of French called Acadian French.
The American folklore hero, Paul Bunyan, is believed by some to have been influenced and if not inspired by Acadian stories about lumberjacks.
Notable Acadians include singer Angele Arsenault, writer Antonine Maillet, former Governor General Romeo LeBlanc, and former New Brunswick premier, the Louis Robichaud who was the first Acadian premier, and who was responsible for modernizing education and the Government of New Brunswick in the mid-Twentieth Century.
For more information:
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino's Acadian Home web site is a respected and frequently cited source of information on Acadian history and genealogy.