Sunday, June 19, 2011

Grand Pré


Stacey and I visited Grand Pré during her soggy May visit.  Photos from that visit illustrate my brief summary of what Grand Pré commemorates.
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Founded in 1604, the French colony of Acadia covered parts of present-day, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Maine and much of Nova Scotia.  Although the colony was ceded to Great Britain in 1713, the Acadian population continued to grow and thrive.

Acadian farmland.

Due to continuing skirmishes between France and Britain, in 1754 the British lieutenant-governor proposed that the Acadians take an unqualified oath of allegiance to the British government, and if they refused they would be deported. Despite their stated neutrality, successive Acadian representatives were arrested when they would not take the oath.  The British now had the excuse they wanted to get rid of the perceived threat. 

Statue commemorating the expulsion.    The parents are
gesturing at two more children off to the right.

British troops were mobilized and the expulsion began.  Many Acadian men were arrested, hundreds of homes and buildings were burned and crops destroyed.

In the end, over 10,000 Acadians were expelled between 1755 and 1763.  One group of 3,100 deported to France, on overcrowded transport ships, suffered a fatality rate of 53%  due to drowning (two ships sank) and disease.   Families were broken up.  Some children were taken from their families to become indebted farm workers.  

Being both French and Catholic, those who were shipped to the American colonies were met with discrimination and rejection.

It was from Grand Pré, a once thriving Acadian settlement, that so many of them were expelled.  That same location now stands as a witness to a shameful page in early Canadian history, but also as a tribute to a people who maintained their culture in the face of terrible hardship, indignity and loss.

That pride is still visible in flags painted on the sides of barns, licence plates sported on the fronts of cars and flags proudly flying from rural flagpoles. 

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Perhaps you've heard of the Acadians who did successfully settle in the U.S. ?   They migrated to the Louisianna area which already had some French settlers.  Over the years the term Acadian evolved into its present-day term -- Cajun.


  1. Though the number of ugly chapters in Canadian history is minute compared to those of your southern neighbor, this one is pretty bad. But your loss, has resulted in a great addition to the stew pot of my country (I don't like the term melting pot, because it is not accurate, there are still lots of chunky bits to savor).

  2. Les, thanks for dropping by. Until I visited Grand Pre I did not understand the origins of the Cajun people.


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