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N. E. S. Griffiths’s essay “The Acadians (early history)
Louisiana French Language ( an explanation )
Article on Acadien.org
After spending the winter of 1604-1605 on Sainte-Croix Island off the coast of present-day Maine, Pierre du Gua, Sieur DeMonts and his men moved their colony to Port Royal in the sheltered Annapolis Valley. In 1605, these French explorers built a fortification which they named in honor of the King's geographer on the expedition, Samuel de Champlain. He called the land "La Cadie", a derivative of "L' Arcadie", the name given to the region early in the sixteenth century by the Italian explorer Verrazano. It is here, and all along the river that winds its way through the Annapolis Valley that the majority of our Acadian ancestors would take root in the first half of the seventeenth century.
Later, a number of families gradually moved further northeast to the Minas and Cumberland Basin areas settling in regions such as: Grand Pré, near the town of present-day Wolfville, N.S.; Cobequid, the Truro region of today; Beaubassin, near the present-day town of Amherst, N.S., as well as the Memramcook region, in southeastern New Brunswick.
Today there exist a number of historic sites which symbolize Acadian history in the province of Nova Scotia. Examples of these include the fort at Port Royal, which signifies where the French first settled in 1605, and Grand-Pré, which commemorates the Acadian deportation and subsequent migrations. The following Acadian family names are listed today in the memorial church on the site at Grand-Pré
As a result of the deportation begun in 1755 and the subsequent migrations it entailed, the Acadians were dispersed all over the Atlantic rim including the New England States and all along the eastern seaboard as far south as Georgia. Some were deported to England and back to France. The Acadians also migrated to present-day New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and back to various locations in Nova Scotia and to Newfoundland as well as to Québec. Many would eventually reach Louisiana, the West Indies and even the Falkland Islands.
Present-Day Acadie in Nova Scotia
Four centuries later the province of Nova Scotia, and especially the Acadian villages that dot its shores, will receive some 100,000 visitors attracted to the region by a myriad of historical and cultural activities. As with the two past Congrès, Nova Scotia's celebrations will span a two-week period beginning on July 31, leading up to and concluding with the National Acadian Feast Day on August 15.
The northern Acadian regions of Nova Scotia are located in Richmond and Inverness Counties on Cape Breton Island and in the Acadian communities in Antigonish and Guysborough Counties. The southern Acadian regions of the province consist of Saint Mary's Bay in the Municipality of Clare, Digby County, as well as the Acadian communities in the Municipality of Argyle, Yarmouth County. Acadians are also found in the center of the province in the village of Chezzetcook, Halifax County.
The greater majority of Acadians are found today residing in the Metropolitan areas of Halifax/Dartmouth and Sydney. Since the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Acadians from many rural communities in Nova Scotia were attracted to these centers because of employment opportunities and other city life experiences.
The Deportation Period, 1755 - 1762
The period between 1755 and 1762 was a very tragic time for Acadians, for it was in those years that the British authorities decided to enforce a deportation order. Acadians were stripped of all their rights and placed in the holds of over-crowded ships bound for destinations unknown. The traumatic events deeply scared the Acadians people. Memories of the terrors of the deportation and exile lasted for generations.
After the fall of Beauséjour in the spring of 1755, events progressed rapidly toward deportation. The British authorities in Halifax continued to ban Acadians from using their guns and canoes and in the late summer the plan was put into motion. On Friday, September 5, 1755 Colonel John Winslow ordered that all males aged 10 years and up in the area were to gather in the Grand-Pré Church for an important message from His Excellency, Charles Lawrence, the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova
The decree that was read to the assembled and stated in part:
"Gentlemen, I have received from His Excellency Governor
Lawrence the King's commission which I have in my hand and
by who's orders you are conveyed together to manifest to you
His Majesty's final resolution to the French inhabitants of this
his province of Nova Scotia who for almost half a century
have had more indulgence granted them then any of his
subjects in any part of his Dominions. What you have made of
them you yourself best know."
(quoted by John Winslow in : Acadie; Esquisse d'un parcours; Sketches of a Journey. p.52)
The promise made to the Acadians that families were not to be divided during the process were not kept. Lawrence's motives were not at all sympathetic to the Acadian's plight as evidenced in a letter he sent to
Colonel Robert Monckton:
" I would have you not wait for the wives and the children coming in but ship off the men without them.". (quoted in Naomi Griffiths, "The Acadian Deportation; Causes and Development,"
Ph.D thesis, p. 176)
A wooden sluice or aboiteau (plural aboiteaux) is then built into the dyke, with a hinged door (clapper valve) that swings open at low tide to allow fresh water to drain from the farmland but swings shut at high tide to prevent salt water from inundating the fields.
Aboiteau farmingis intimately linked with the story of French Acadian colonization of the shores of Canada's Bay of Fundy in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Acadians constructed earthen dykes to isolate areas of salt marsh from repeated inundation by the tides.
A rare original "aboiteau" is the jewel of the West Pubnico Acadian Museums' artifacts. In 1990, local residents found a couple of boards sticking out of an eroding beach on Double Island, West Pubnico. They returned to the site in 1996 to remove the aboiteau, to preserve and display it at the museum
Settlers on the Port Royal River (now the Annapolis River) were the only agricultural establishment in Acadia at that time. Rather than deforesting high lands to make them arable land, the Acadians used the experience some had in marshland drying to establish a completely original farming system. These settlers, pioneers of water, dried up the marshes around Port Royal (around 5,000 acres) and claimed the sea, by the construction of dams or dikes, made land of fertile alluvium.
A French visitor of the 18 th century, the Sieur de Dièreville, left us a description of the construction of aboiteaux
"They plant five or six rows of large whole trees where the sea enters the swamps, and between each row they lay down other trees along each other and fill all the voids so well with clay well beaten, that the water could not pass in. They adjust in the middle of these works a [channel] so that it allows the low tide, the water of the marshes to flow by its impulse, and forbid to that of the sea to enter there "
(From D R Broussard Article)
"The construction of an aboiteau, because of the technology of the time required the implementation of a large amount of labor as well as the decision-making by certain individuals charged to lead. Once completed, there was a need for constant surveillance of the ravages of the sea. The system of building aboiteau and cultivating alluvial lands created a state of interdependence and a community spirit that forged the soul of the Acadian and tightened existing ties more closely."