Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Acadians were sent packing

16 July 2016

From Fundy National Park we made our way on dual lane highways to Nova Scotia. Just before the border is a national historic site called Fort Cumberland. If our national parks pass didn't include it, we probably wouldn't have stopped, and I'm glad we did. The road between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia has a $5.25 toll for four axles, which obviously pays for the great roads.

Gorgeous visitor centre and museum building

Fort Beausejour/Fort Cumberland

The old fort is pretty much in ruins, save a few storage facilities. It was originally built by the French in 1751 to hold off the English who had started invading forty years earlier. They called it Fort Beausejour. In 1754 the British decided they wanted to get rid of the French from North America. The English won the war and took over the fort four years later, renaming it Fort Cumberland. The lands switched ownership a number of times. But this explains why Canada is now part of the British Commonwealth. All the English colonies became part of a group called the Commonwealth when they got their independence. We all have a lot in common. Some of us still drive on the left hand side of the road (though not Canada), have a Westminster system of government, common law, widespread use of the English language, we share a common culture and we all get to play a cut down version of the Olympic games together, though you won't see me there.

The collateral damage in all of this were the Acadians. As a group they refused to sign an unconditional oath to the British monarchy. Some may have, but others were anti-British. Other reasons were religious as Britain was Protestant, others didn't want to have to fight against the French in case of war and they also thought it might leave them open to attack by the Mi'kmaq. So they were deported. They had lived in Canada for over a century and now they were told they had to leave. Those that went to Virginia in the USA were refused entry and were sent to Europe. Over 3,000 Acadians were deported to northern France. Some Acadians escaped into the woods and lived with the Mi'kmaq; some bands of partisans fought the British. Some followed the coast northward, facing famine and disease. Some were recaptured and deported or imprisoned.

After the Seven Years war, the Acadians were allowed to return but with conditions. They weren't allowed to live in large numbers or in the areas of Port Royal or Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia. Most of their houses had been burned by the British and their fertile Acadian dykelands had been resettled by New England Planters. They were left with land that was isolated and infertile.

We didn't stop here but kept driving to our next destination towards Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.


  1. Very interesting history about the Acadians. Not sure if you've been to Louisiana, but there's a large, thriving population of Acadians who settled around Lafayette. It's a fascinating area with wonderful music, food, and a "living museum" devoted to Acadian culture. We've written about it in our blog if you're interested.

    1. No, not yet, that is on our list when we do the South East at the end of next year. We can't do it this year as we will have used up our six months good behaviour bond with border control. Yes, I have read your excellent blog post and even saved a copy!