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Grand-Pre was the focal point of the 18th century expulsion of the Acadian people, starting a tragic set of events known by some as The Deportation.
Acadians were the descendents of French settlers who had arrived in the region now known as Nova Scotia – which became part of a larger area known as Acadia – in the 17th century. They had a large and prosperous community in Grand-Pre. At the start of the 18th century, the British colonised Acadia and, when war broke out between France and England in 1744, things began to unravel.
On 5 September 1755, all Acadian men and boys were assembled and told that they were to be deported. This would be the beginning of a great upheaval of Acadians from throughout the Minas Basin. In fact, by the end of 1755, around 6,000 Acadians were deported, a process which continued until 1763.
Today, the Grand-Pre National Historic Site commemorates these events and particularly those Acadians deported from Minas Basin. There are several monuments, a church and gardens as well as a visitor centre.
The Landscape of Grand Pré is a polder created for farmland by the Acadian community.
Originally a Marshland inhabited by native Mi&rsquokmaq people, the reclamation of the land was carried out in stages in the 17th and 18th century.
It is considered the best example of a historic polder in North America. It is still a living Cultural landscape of farming.
Grand Pré is also the place of memory for the Acadian diaspora. These descendants of the 17th-century French colonists were deported from here in 1755 by the British colonial officers.
When the War of the Spanish Succession (also called Queen Anne's War) widened to include England in 1702, it spawned conflict between the colonies of England and France in North America.  Joseph Dudley, the governor of the English Province of Massachusetts Bay (which then included present-day Maine), sought in June 1703 to ensure the neutrality of the Abenakis who occupied the frontier between Massachusetts and New France.  In this he was unsuccessful, because New France's Governor Philippe de Rigaud Vaudreuil, knowing he would have to rely on Indian support for defense against the more numerous English, had already encouraged the Indians to take up the hatchet.  Following the Wabanaki Confederacy of Acadia military campaign against the New England frontier during the summer of 1703, the English colonists embarked on largely unsuccessful retaliatory raids against Abenaki villages.  This prompted the Abenakis to participate in a raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts under French leadership in February 1704.  The severity of this raid (more than 50 villagers killed and more than 100 captured) prompted calls for revenge, and the veteran Indian fighter Benjamin Church offered his services for an expedition against the French colony of Acadia (roughly present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and eastern Maine).  
Acadia was at the time dominated by a series of settlements dotting the shores of the Bay of Fundy and its adjacent bays. Its principal settlement and capital, Port Royal, was the only significantly fortified community, defended by a star fort with a modest garrison.  The land at the top of the bay, on the shores of the Minas and Cumberland Basins was one of the major seats of food production in the colony, and Grand Pré was one of the largest and most successful communities on the Minas Basin, with a population of about 500 in 1701.  French settlers to the area had brought with them knowledge on the constructions of dikes and levees, which they used to drain marshlands for agriculture, and to protect those lands from the inflow of the exceptionally high tides (over 6 meters, or 20 feet, in some places) for which the Bay of Fundy is well known.  The community of Beaubassin was the largest of several towns situated on the Isthmus of Chignecto and elsewhere on the shores of the Cumberland Basin. 
Church had previously led expeditions against Acadia during King William's War, and Governor Dudley issued him a colonel's commission for the effort,  giving him specific orders to obtain Acadian prisoners that could be exchanged for the English prisoners taken in the Deerfield raid. The expedition was also to be one of punishment: "Use all possible methods for the burning and destroying of the enemies houses and breaking the dams of their corn grounds, and make what other spoil you can upon them".  Dudley, however, specifically denied Church permission to attack Port Royal, the Acadian capital, citing the need to get permission from London before taking such a step. 
The force Church raised consisted of about 500 volunteers from coastal areas of Massachusetts, including some Indians.  He left Boston on 15/26 May with fourteen transports and three warships. The warships include the Royal Navy vessels HMS Adventure,  HMS Jersey (42 guns) and HMS Gosport (32),   </ref> which were also accompanied by the Massachusetts Province Galley of Cyprian Southack.  (Church took a former prisoner of the Maliseet, John Gyles as his translator.) 
The expedition first sailed for Mount Desert Island, near the entrance to Penobscot Bay. Church sent a force to raid Pentagoet (present-day Castine, Maine), where the Frenchman Baron Saint-Castin had a fortified trading post. Saint-Castin was absent, but Church took prisoner his daughter and her children.  He also learned that a new French settlement was being built at Passamaquoddy Bay, so the expedition next sailed for that destination. Church sent a small force ashore near present-day St. Stephen, New Brunswick, where they destroyed a house and raided a nearby Maliseet encampment, killing one Indian. Church then separated the warships, sending them to blockade the Digby Gut in the hopes of capturing a French supply ship, while the bulk of the expedition sailed for Grand Pré.  The three ship captains on 24 June demanded the surrender of the garrison at Port Royal, threatening a frontal assault with 1,700 New Englanders and "Sauvages".  Governor Jacques-François de Monbeton de Brouillan, despite defenses in poor conditions and a garrison of only 150 able men, saw through the bluff and refused. Historian George Rawlyk speculates that Governor Dudley may have intentionally asked them to make this bluff without Church's involvement. 
The principal detailed account of these events was provided by Colonel Church in his memoirs, first published in 1716.  French military officers later summarized the damage caused by the raiders. 
Day 1: Arrival Edit
On 24 June/3 July 1704, Church arrived at Grand Pré on the frigate Adventure.  Hoping to take advantage of the element of surprise, Church secretly approached the village from behind the heavily wooded Boot Island. His men unloaded the whaleboats to go ashore late in the day and started to move quickly toward the village. Church sent Lieut. Giles ahead with a flag of truce and a written notice demanding the village's complete surrender. 
We do also declare, that we have already made some beginnings of killing and scalping some Canada men, which we have not been wont to do or allow, and are now come with a great number of English and Indians, all volunteers, with resolutions to subdue you, and make you sensible of your cruelties to us, by treating you after the same manner.
Church stipulated the Acadians and Mi'kmaq had one hour to surrender. Although he expected to reach the village by the time the hour had past, Church's force became delayed by stream crossings made more difficult by the receding tide: "But meeting with several creeks near twenty or thirty feet deep, which were very muddy and dirty, so that the army could not get over them, were obliged to return to their boats again." 
Because Church's forces were stuck in the mud exposed by the retreating tide, they lost any element of surprise, and the Acadians took the opportunity to evacuate Grand Pré with some of their cattle and the "best of their goods".  Church's forces waited in their boats for the tide to rise. Church expected the high stream banks to provide some cover, but when tide rose that night, it was so high that the boats were exposed to gunfire from the local militia, who had gathered in the woods along the banks. According to Church, the Acadians and Mi'kmaq "fired smartly at our forces".  Church had a small cannon on his boat, which he used to fire grape shot at the attackers on the shore, who withdrew, suffering one Mi'kmaq killed and several wounded. Church's forces then waited out the rest of the night. 
Day 2: Inhabitants driven off Edit
Having withdrawn from the village, the next morning the Acadian and Mi'kmaq militia waited in the woods for Church and his men to arrive. At the break of day, the New Englanders again set off toward the village, under orders from Church to drive any resistance before them. The largest body of defenders fired on the raiders' right flank from behind trees and logs, but their fire was ineffective and they were driven off. The raiders then entered the village and began plundering. Some of the men broke into the liquor stores they found and began drinking, but Colonel Church quickly put a stop to that activity. They spent the rest of the day destroying much of the village.  According to one of Church's dispatches, they destroyed 60 houses, 6 mills, and many barns, along with about 70 cattle. 
At one point some of the men noticed that some of the Acadians were nearby, driving off some of their cattle. Church detached Lieutenant Barker and some men to give chase, warning them to advance with care. However, Barker was somewhat rash in pursuing the chase, and he and another man were killed before the raiders retreated back to the village. 
That evening the raiders built a fortification out of logs while burning the church and the rest of the village. Church reported that "the whole town seemed to be on fire all at once."  All but one home was burned. 
Day 3: Destruction of the harvest Edit
On the morning of the third day, Church gave the orders to destroy the dykes and, in turn, all of the crops. Seven dykes were broken, destroying most of the harvest and ruining over 200 hogsheads of stored wheat. 
To give the impression to the Acadians and Mi'kmaq that his forces were leaving, Church had his soldiers burn the fortifications they had built the day before.  He also had them load themselves and the whale boats back onto their transport vessels. Some of the Acadians returned in the night and immediately began to mend the broken dykes. However, Church had anticipated this, and sent men back to the town to drive the Acadians off. 
The next day Church left Grand Pré and went on to raid Pisiguit (present day Windsor and Falmouth, Nova Scotia, not far from Grand Pré), where he took 45 prisoners.  He then sailed for Port Royal to rejoin the fleet blockading Port Royal.  According to uncorroborated French reports, the blockaders had made some landings in the vicinity of Port Royal, burning a few isolated houses and taking some prisoners. Governor Brouillan organized defenses that successfully prevented further landings. 
After rejoining the warships Church held a council to discuss whether or not to launch a large-scale attack against Port Royal. The council decided that their force was "inferiour to the strength of the enemy", and that they would "quit it [Port Royal] wholly and go about [their] other business".  The expedition then sailed back up the Bay of Fundy to Chignecto, where the village of Beaubassin was raided. Its inhabitants had by then been alerted to the English activities, and under the leadership of Father Claude Trouve  had removed their possessions and as much livestock as possible from the village to Chedabucto (Guysborough, Nova Scotia). Church, after some ineffectual skirmishing with villagers hiding in the woods, burned the village's houses and barns and slaughtered 100 head of cattle, before sailing for Boston. Church reported that six of his men were killed over the course of the expedition.< 
The prisoners that Church took were brought to Boston, where they were at first given relatively free access to the town. The town selectman complained, and the Acadians were then confined to Castle William. They were exchanged in 1705 and 1706 for prisoners taken in the Deerfield raid, although the negotiations were complicated by Dudley's initial refusal to release the noted French privateer Pierre Maisonnat dit Baptiste, who was ultimately exchanged, along with Noel Doiron and other captives, for Deerfield's minister John Williams.  
The direct effects of the raid were fairly short-lived. Because of the destruction of the crop and stored grain, the colony suffered a flour shortage that winter, although it was not severe enough to cause significant hardship. Grand Pré was rebuilt, the dykes were repaired, and there was a successful harvest in 1706.  The memory of the raid however, lasted in the population. As late as the 1740s (after Acadia had become British Nova Scotia) Grand Pré's inhabitants worried about a return of English raiders, and were cautious in their dealing with British authorities. 
Dudley's decision to deny Church permission to attack Port Royal had political ramifications: his opponents in Massachusetts accused him of protecting Port Royal because he was benefiting from illicit trade with Acadia. These allegations continued for several years, and Dudley eventually chose to deal with them by launching the failed attacks on Port Royal in 1707. 
Grand Pré, NS, Unincorporated Place. Grand Pré is located on the shore of the MINAS BASIN 83 km northwest of HALIFAX. Founded by ACADIANS shortly before 1680, the name refers to the 1000 ha "Great Meadow" of fertile marshland that drew settlers eastward from PORT-ROYAL to farm on the shores of MINAS BASIN. Using traditional French diking techniques to protect the low-lying marsh from the saltwater tides of the basin, Grand Pré farmers annually exported agricultural products to Port-Royal, other French colonies and New England.The Memorial Church of Grand Pré located in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia in the Grand Pré National Historic Site, a park commemorating the deportation of the Acadians between 1755 and 1763 . (Photo taken on: June 21, 2008. 25294678 u00a9 Verena Matthew | Dreamstime.com Image: u00a9 Nancy Rose/flickr.com. This memorial chapel, in the style of mid-18th-century French architecture, opened in 1930 (photo by Freeman Patterson/Masterfile). Stained-glass memorial dedicated to the memory of the Acadian Deportation (courtesy T.E. Smith). Deportation Sculpture in Grand Pré in Nova Scotia marks the centre of the Acadian settlement from 1682 to 1755, and commemorates the deportation of the Acadians. Photo taken on: June 4, 2014. 43286590 u00a9 Meunierd | Dreamstime.com Statue at Grand Pré, Nova Scotia (Corel Professional Photos).
By the early 18th century, Grand Pré was the focus of Les Mines (Minas), the most populated of 3 Acadian districts. In the 1740s it consisted of 150 houses that stretched in a line some 4 km long. On 11 Feb 1747, it was the scene of the Battle of Grand Pré, a surprise attack by French and Indians on British troops during the WAR OF THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION.
Longfellow's romantic poem EVANGELINE portrayed the tragic events of the Acadian deportation at Grand Pré (1755). In 1917 property near the centre of the village was set aside to develop as a tourist attraction. A bronze statue of Evangeline was unveiled in 1920, and a memorial chapel in the style of mid-18th-century French architecture opened in 1930. The area is now a historic site - Grand Pré National Historic Park.
Grand-Pre - History
Further south in a 500 ft. gore until within 5 miles of its mouth is the Gaspereau. The population in this area in 1714 was 530 [Gaspereau River - 37, Grand Pré - 287, Cornwallis River - 94, Canard River - 76, Habitant Creek (&/or Pereau Creek) - 36 according to Morris]. Sometimes Habitant and Pereau were called (together and separately) Riviere des Vieilles Habitants.
The first settlers in the area came to Habitant and Canard, then to Grand Pré. Many willows were planted in their days there. Miles of dykes eventually protected the pastures. It would become the most populated area of Acadia. [Herbin, 95]
Though it was founded after Port Royal and Beaubassin, Grand Pre was very successful due to: 1) being pretty much ignored by New England raiders and French officials, 2) weak seigneurial control, and 3) good marshlands. It seems to have been established in 1682 when 2 well-to-do Port Royal inhabitants moved there. Pierre Terriau settled on the Riviere St. Antoine (today's Cornwallis River) and was soon followed by others, including Claude and Antoine Landry and Rene LeBlanc. Pierre Melanson&rsquos family (son of d&rsquoAulnay&rsquos tutor, married to Marie Marguerite Mius d&rsquoEntremont) and one other (a hired hand?) were also early settlers at Grand Pré. [Clark, p. 148] Melanson was the seigneurial agent, a leader in the area, and captain of the militia.
By 1686, there was another family at Grand Pré and 7 families at the St. Antoine (total - 57 people . 10 families, 83 acres tilled, 90 cattle, 21 sheep, 67 pigs, and 20 guns). The census lists only 5 farms. People moved there from Beaubassin and Port Royal. Gargas (in 1687/88) said there were about 30 families there &ldquowhere all the young people from Port Royal [are] settled.&rdquo Visitors remarked of the area&rsquos isolation from interference. The population quickly increased from 57 (1686) to 580 (1707).
The settlements at Habitant were Antoine, Aucoin, Brun, Claude, Claude Landry, Claude Terriau, Comeau, De Landry, Dupuis, Francois, Granger, Hebert, Jean Terriau, Michel, Navie, Pinous, Poirier, Saulnier, and Trahan. The settlements at Minas were: Comeau, De Petit or Gotro, Gaspereau, Grand LeBlanc, Grand Pre, Granger, Hebert, Jean LeBlanc, Jean Terriau, LaCoste, Landry, Melanson, Michel, Pierre LeBlanc, Pinour, Pinne, and Richard. (Eaton, p. 29)
Villebon, who visited in October 1699, said there wasn&rsquot much cod fishing at Minas, but the tidal streams had shad and gaspereau (alewives). Gargas has said in 1687/88 that the rivers had shad, trout, gaspereau, and shellfish. [Clark, p. 150] The main crops were wheat, rye, peas, and oats. He mentioned the women spinning and weaving wool and linen. There was one sawmill and another planned, a windmill, and 7-8 water gristmills. [Clark, p. 151]
New England traders made their way into the basin. By 1701, there were 33 families (188 people) at Pisiquid. There were also 3 families at Cobequid, where Mathieu Martin was given a seigneurie in 1689. By 1707, Cobequid had 17 families (82 people). Pisiquid was growing, but not as well. The area developed both farmland and took care of their livestock.
Brouillan visited Minas in 1701. He reported that they had abundant cattle, and that they could export 700-800 hogshead of wheat if they chose to. But they were very independent . being separated from offical control . and were used to deciding things for themselves.
The following is an account of a 1720 visit to Minas is given.
The area is Minas, called Les Minas by the French due to the copper mines. Grand Pre is 30 leagues by sea and 22 by land ENE of Port Royal. The harbor is wild and insecure. Vessels (usually less than 40-50 tons) going there to trade use the tide (which rises 9-10 fathoms) to go up the creek (Dead Dyke) to the town of Grand Pre. When the tide goes out, they are left on a 5-6 mile bed of mud. There is a meadow (Grand Pre Dyke), stretching for 4 leagues that produces very good wheat and peas. It could produce enough grain for a much larger area. The scattered houses of the town are on high ground along the 2 &ldquoCricks&rdquo, which run between it and the meadow. There are a lot of cattle in the area. They catch white porpoises (a type of fish) and make oil from its blubber (yielding good profits). There are more people in that area than at Port Royal and Indians also inhabit the area. They have never had any force near them to &ldquobridle&rdquo them. &ldquoAll orders sent to them, if not suiting to their humors, are scoffed and laughed at, and they put themselves upon the footing of obeying no government.&rdquo They won&rsquot submit easily to any terms unless a sizable force (300-400) landed and a Fort or redoubt of earth was built (with 4 cannons, upon their beloved meadow, big enough to hold 150 men). Because of the harbor, the vessel bringing them would have to be 12 miles from the fort. Any ships that rode in with the tide would be left on a bed of mud for 16 hours (and subject to burning). [Herbin, 53]
In 1720, Mascarene referred to Grand Pré as a meadow of 4 leagues, dammed in from the tide, producing very good wheat and peas. The settlement was composed of scattered houses, on high ground between 2 creeks (on kind of a peninsula). This was the center of Minas until the exile in 1755. Grand Pré had about 200 houses. Two settlements (Melanson and Gaspereau) were along the Gaspereau. [Clark, p. 215]
From a Jan. 1747 report at Grand Pré (when British forces were destroyed), there were &ldquolow houses framed of timber and their chimney framed with the building of wood and lined with clay except the fireplace below.&rdquo There were a few stone houses in the middle of town. The only buildings were homes, barns, stables, churches, and mills. [Clark, p. 217]
The population in 1750 was 2450 [Pereau Creek - 50, Habitant Creek - 75, Canard - 750, Cornwallis River - 100, Grand Pré - 1350, Gaspereau - 125 from Morris]. [Clark, p. 216]
Morris' 1749 plan for settling the English on Acadian land in the Minas area..
In 1920, the DAR erected a statue of Longfellow's Evangeline on the grounds. The exterior of the memorial church was built in 1922, with the interior construction completed in 1930. It has been used as a museum to share the Acadian story ever since.
A 'deportation cross' was placed 2 km from the site in 1924. In 2005, it was moved to Horton's Landing - closer to the spot where they were actually sent away.
History of Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, Canada / Saint-Charles-des-Mines, Acadia
Visit Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, Canada / Saint-Charles-des-Mines, Acadia. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and genealogy.
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This settlement is located about half-way between the mouth of Gaspereau River and the mouth of the Cornwallis River in central Nova Scotia. The Lower Horton area was referred to by the Indians as Umtaban, meaning "an overflowing flood" because of the fact that the tides covered much of the lowlands for a part of each day before the dykes were built. Grand Pre is a name which was given by the French Acadian settlers and means, "Great Meadow."
Settlement may have begun in this area as early as 1680 when Pierre Melanson and Pierre Terriau moved here from Annapolis. About 1682 Claude and Antoine Landry, Etienne Hebert and Claude Boudrot, Jean Terriau, Martin Aucoin, Phillippe Pinet and Francois Lapierre moved here. In the spring of 1760 several shiploads of New England settlers arrived. This area became part of Horton township which was granted to the proprietors on May 29, 1761.
Probably the first church building in the area was the Acadian parish church of St. Charles which was built before 1707. A replica of this church was built as a memorial and was dedicated in August, 1922. A Presbyterian meeting house was built here probably in the late 1760's or early 1770's and was taken down soon after 1795. The Covenanter Church was begun in 1804 and completed in 1818. It was unused from 1894 until 1912 and eventually became the property of the United Church of Canada. The Chalmers Church a Non-Covenanter Presbyterian owned building was built about 1887-88 and was sold to the local school trustees in 1912. A Methodist Church was built about 1786. A new Church was opened in May 1821 but it burned down and was replaced by a new building which was dedicated in May , 1868. A new church hall for the Horton United Church at Grand Pre was opened December 2, 1928. A meeting house belonging to the United Church of Canada and located at North Grand Pre was possibly opened about 1861 as a Union Church.
John Cashen was teacher at "the Presbyterian Meeting House" September to December 1828. There was a school-house on Presbyterian ground here about 1835. A new public school was built in 1866. A school-house situated in Stewarts Woods was burned in 1872. A new school-house was erected in 1878. A school-house erected in 1913 was closed when the area was consolidated with Avonport and Horton District.
Farming has been the main industry. Acadia Dairy Company Limited was founded here prior to 1898.
Population in 1956 was 300.
NOTE: Interesting article about old Acadian Cemeteries
www.ameriquefrancaise.org/ en/ article-333/ Acadian_Cemeteries_in_Nova_Scotia.html#1
There is MUCH more to discover about Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, Canada / Saint-Charles-des-Mines, Acadia. Read on!
- 1680 - First Settlers of Grand Pre
Grand-Pré, French for "large meadow", was first settled around 1680 when Pierre Melanson dit La Verdure, his wife Marguerite Mius d'Entremont and. Read MORE.
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John Frederic Herbin, History of Grand-Pré (Herbin Jewellers, 1898)
The Acadian Disapora of 1755 is an oft-neglected point in North American history I've discovered a few books about it, though aside from Herbin's, all of them seem to have been written in 1990 or later. (The most recent as of this writing, Christopher Hodson's 2012 study The Acadian Diaspora: An Eighteenth-Century History, looks especially interesting.) Herbin's history came out a century before that. The introduction to the 7th edition, printed in 2003, is a bit sketchy, but I believe, reading between the lines, it has been in print more often than not in the ensuing hundred fifteen years. The idea that an event of this magnitude—think of it as a North American version of the Armenian genocide of 1915 or the Khmer Rouge's ethnic cleansing policies in Cambodia—could have been represented for almost one hundred years with a single book is staggering to me, but that seems to have been the case. As far as the book itself, goes, to me, it seemed to raise more questions than it answered, but as a starting point for more research, it is indispensable Herbin was the descendant of one of the few Acadians left in Nova Scotia at the time he penned this book, and that gives him a perspective on the events that, while obviously biased, is unique, and almost impossible for any nonfiction writer working today to emulate.
Before the American Revolution, during the long period of time known as the French and Indian Wars (while America delineates a single French and Indian War, of which the Acadian Diaspora was one of England's opening salvos, the actual span of the multiple wars that made up that period of history ran from 1688 all the way to the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763), Quebec was not the only French settlement in Canada. The French had also settled in Acadia, a portion of eastern Nova Scotia that basically encompasses the entire southeast peninsula the northwest border of Acadia is delineated by Fort Lawrence, Fort Beauséjour, and Fort Gaspareaux. Herbin's history is mostly concerned with the area surrounding the Minas Basin, which includes the cities of Minas, Grand-Pré, and Piziquid, with references to Annapolis, Halifax, and a few other of the towns southwest of the Minas Basin. The basic thrust of Herbin's short history is that: (a) previous to the 1720s or thereabouts, the French and British, despite the ongoing French and Indian Wars, lived if not in harmony, at least in neutrality with one another some contemporary accounts reported here indicate that the Native Americans were just as antipathetic to the Acadian French as they were to the English (b) with the appointment of Lawrence Armstrong as Governor-General in 1725, things went to pot (with the exception of a brief period under Governor Paul Mascarene, who was willing to work with the French despite their refusal to take an oath of fealty to England), culminating in the 1755 diaspora and (c ) the Acadians were innocent, honest, hardworking folks who did nothing at all to incite British ire against them. While I am certainly not going to be a British apologist here (I'm Scottish, so my family are well-used to Britain wandering in somewhere and immediately setting up shop and behaving like they own the place), as I said before, when reading this, it's probably best to take Herbin's points, especially the last one, with a grain of salt.
That said, there are places where it's more obvious than others that Herbin was quite conscious that he wasn't telling the whole story. There is a religious component to all of this, with the Catholic Acadians rubbing the Church of Scotland-believing Brits the wrong way. Herbin touches on this during the chapter on the Diaspora itself, which is almost at the end of the book, but up until then, there is at most a vague acknowledgment of same. But the things Herbin chooses to point out about the religious aspect of it all make it seem like this was much closer to being at the heart of the conflict than Herbin intimates specifically, he points out, if only in passing, that Acadia's priests were the first people imprisoned, and ultimately the first people expelled, from the colony. He is also entirely unwilling to countenance the idea that the Acadians were running arms to the Quebecois I haven't dug into any of the more recent volumes about the incident yet, but from what I've read online, this seems to be taken as a given by most researchers on the subject at this time. That does tend to throw a different light on things, doesn't it? Still, Britain's response to same was the definition of overreaction, and the successful quashing of any reportage on the incident at all for over a century afterwards continues that trend. Now that it's all being brought back to light, might as well go to the source. ** ½
Redcoats shot Acadians in 1755 Expulsion
Halifax, Nova Scotia A 1755 letter acquired in 2001 by the University of Louisiana provides rare evidence that British soldiers shot people during the Acadian expulsion from Gran Pre, N.S.
The letter, by British Major General John Winslow, describes how soldiers rounded-up 1,510 inhabitants by force and put them on ships.
“Have had no uncommon disturbance”, Maj.- Gen. Winslow wrote a friend described only as a doctor. “Some of the young men in the settlement, however, tried to get away”, he said.
“Kil’d one & I believe one other as he has not been heard of and the rest returned. I yesterday began to burn the outposts & march this afternoon to proceed on that business, I expect to see the battalion soon united at Halifax.”
The one-page handwritten report was placed on display behind glass in October 2001 at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupre Library.
“The Acadian Deportation is now seen internationally as one of the classic early episodes of ethnic cleansing,” said Carl Brasseaux, a history professor at the university whose family was deported from Grand Pre ten generations ago.
While Mr. Brasseaux knew that as many as half the deportees died from disease, manutrition and exposure, he said he was never sure Acadians were shot at Grand Pre until he read the Winswlow letter. “This is one of the clearest indications that lethal force was enployed,” he said.
The shootings were “very uncommon and would have been done only in the face of Acadian resistance,” said Barry Moody, a history professor at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S.
It is believed about 11,000 Acadians were deported from what is now the Maritimes between 1755 and 1758. Another 3,000 are believed to have hidden in the forest of Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
Others sailed south to Louisiana where, over the centuries they lost their language and much of their culture, metamorphosing into today’s Cajuns- a word derived from “Acadians.”
“There’s been a cultural renaissance here over the last thirty years, and with that has come a hightened interest in the arrival of the groups,” Mr. Brasseaux said. “Before that, the story was almost entorely ignored.”
The Louisiana University, which has a student body made up of about 40% Acadians by ancestry, paid a book dealer less than $5,000. for the letter. It came from a private collector in New England.
“The document is historically significant to our region,” said Charlie Triche, director of the Dupre Library. “So it wouln’t have mattered if it would have cost $20. or $25,000. We still would have got it.”
THE ACTUAL LETTER READS
“Dear Doctor: These acquaint you that the camp in general is well. We have ship of here 1510 of the inhabitants. We had the whole collected and for want of transport have left 600 people. Have had no uncommon disturbance. The young fellows look in on their head, to desert our party. Kil’d one & I believe one other as he has not been heard of and the rest return. I yesterday began to burn the out posts & march this afternoon to proceed on that business. I expect to see the battallion [sic] soon united at Halifax. I refer you to Capt. Gorham for news. Am yours, etc. John Winslow”
The above-noted article written bu Chris Lambie of The Daily News and printed in the National Post on October 29, 2001,
Grand Pré – Acadian History
Grand Pré is situated at the north east end of the Annapolis Valley. It borders on the Minas Basin and the tidal lands of the Bay of Fundy. The area was settled in the 1600s by French settlers from Port Royal who reclaimed the lands from the tides and made a fertile land.
Now we see the low meadowland and dikes and on the hills above, vineyards and wineries commanding a view of the area.
The history of Grand Pré is dramatic with the land being fought over by the English and French during the 1700s and the expulsion of the Acadians from their lands in 1755. The story is well told in the multi-media centre at the Parks Canada National Historic Site. The grounds with the sweeping willow trees and wandering stream are peaceful and commemorate the deportation. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem Evangeline to bring the story to light and the statue of Evangeline and bust of Longfellow are featured in the garden.
Sunset from Beach Breeze Motel Grand Pre
The church, built on the site of the 17th century Acadian village (Eglise Souvenir Memorial Church) depicts life in the village and scenes of the deportation. Be sure to listen to the audio stories from the voices of 2 children.
The path off to the left of the church goes to the blacksmith forge with a lovely view of the dikes and fields below. You can bike or walk along the dikes.
Just 10 minutes from Grand Pré National Historic Park there is a large and well kept campground and the lovely Beach Breeze Motel. We stayed here and had a wonderful view of the sunset and sunrise over the vast changing tides of Fundy.