Acadians – A Mini Primer

Many people know the name Acadian or Acadia, but probably would be hard-pressed to be sure who they were talking about.  When you visit Nova Scotia, it’s good to have the basics so you can better enjoy the various Acadian cultural artefacts and events.

In the 1600s 500 French settlers colonized Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, calling the area Acadie, and prospered and, in the 1750s, their numbers were about 14,000.

Unfortunately, the British had claimed Nova Scotia as its colony.  In 1755, Acadians were rounded up for an unwilling deportation.  Over 6000 Acadians were put on boats bound for elsewhere, including the USA, where they became Cajuns in Louisiana.

The problem was the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). France gave up land that included Acadia to the British. The British required that the Acadians swear allegiance to the Crown that would potentially require taking up arms, which might in turn force them to attack other French speaking people on behalf o the British.  The Acadians – understandably – balked.

The 19th century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote Evangeline, which is the fictional account of a young Acadian family that suffered through the expulsion.

Acadians did come back to Atlantic Canada, many landing in New Brunswick.  To explore this aspect, you should visit Village Historique Acadien, which is 45 minutes from Bathurst, New Brunswick.

If you hear Acadian French spoken in Atlantic Canada, and you then travel to Quebec, don’t be surprised if you hear a different accent.  The history of these peoples is different.

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