A very sad chapter in Canadian History is the story of the Acadians –
a story similar to that of the Jews in the Second World War.
I was unaware of this whole story, until I researched the ancestors of one of my friends.
The Acadians, descendants of French colonists who in settled Acadia during the 17th and 18th centuries, were a hard working people who came to Canada (before it was Canada) to search for a new home. They carved out a living for themselves,farming land reclaimed from the sea through diking. The colony was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), as well as part of Quebec, and present-day Maine to the Kennebec River. Although today most of the Acadians and Québécois are French-speaking (francophone) Canadians, Acadia was a distinctly separate colony of New France. It was geographically and administratively separate from the French colony of Canada (modern-day Quebec). As a result, the Acadians and Québécois developed two distinct histories and cultures.
The settlers whose descendants became Acadians came from many areas in France, but especially regions such as
Île-de France, Normandy, Brittany, Poitou and Aquitaine.
During the French and Indian War (the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War), British colonial officers suspected Acadians were aligned with France after finding some Acadians fighting alongside French troops at Fort Beausejour. Though most Acadians remained neutral during the French and Indian War, the British, together with New England legislators and militia, carried out the Great Expulsion (Le Grand Dérangement) of the Acadians during the 1755–1764 period.
They deported approximately 11,500 Acadians from the maritime region. They were expelled, their lands and property confiscated, and in some cases their homes burned. Families were separated, Approximately one-third perished from disease and drowning (overcrowded, sinking ships) The result was what one historian described as an ethnic cleansing of the Acadians from Maritime Canada. Other historians indicate that it was a deportation similar to other deportations of the time period.
Most Acadians were deported to various American colonies, where many were forced into servitude, or marginal lifestyles. Some Acadians were deported to England, sent to the Caribbean, and some were deported to France. After being expelled to France, many Acadians were eventually recruited by the Spanish government to migrate to present day Louisiana state where they developed what became known as Cajun culture.
In time, some Acadians returned to the Maritime provinces of Canada, mainly to New Brunswick because they were barred by the British from resettling their lands and villages in what became Nova Scotia.
Before the US Revolutionary War, the Crown settled New England Planters in former Acadian communities and farmland as well as Loyalists after the war (including nearly 3,000 Black Loyalists, who were freed slaves). British policy was to assimilate Acadians with the local populations where they resettled.
In 1847, American writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published Evangeline, an epic poem loosely based on the events surrounding the 1755 deportation. The poem became an American classic, and contributed to a rebirth of Acadian identity in both Maritime Canada and in Louisiana.
Some helpful links for you research:
Acadians & French-Canadians Ancestral Home which includes the Acadian Census Records
Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History So many links to information about Acadian Life, surnames and a special section on the Hebert family.
I followed one family through the Acadian Census from 1671 – 1714.
It is interesting what kind of information if given in each. Several are mentioned how many guns were owned by a family, others how many armor bearers in the house. How many acres and how many of each animal; one even mentions how many fruit trees. I created a few charts to take all that information into an overseeable 3-page chart.
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