I spent some time in Louisana as a younger fellow and was fascinated by the Cajuns I met–I’ve always admired cultures that engender an independent spirit. When I lived in Maine, later on, I learned that many of the the Cajuns came from Canada by way of Maine after they were driven from Nova Scotia by the brutal, nascent corporate world odor.
I looked up ‘Acadian’ and found the following. Note that the French settlers in Canada started having a lawful good time in 1606, within a year of their arrival while the grim, mean spirited English settlers (we’d call those people ‘fundamentalist Christians’ today, of course) in Massachusetts, not long after their arrival, started massacring their peace-loving Indian benefactors after the Indians unselfishly saved them from starvation. That sort of ‘thanks’ characterized the history of the American expansion, unfortunately, all the way to California, Japan and the Middle East. I think it’s time for us Americans to start living up to our own high-sounding claims instead of trying to police the world for the corporate world odor [Image Can Not Be Found];
From what little I know of the history of the French people in North America it’s become apparent that this is a very rich potential source of information relative to what transpired in Europe during the time the world odor was being created at the expense of the French, Spanish and German people.
The name Acadia originally applied to the colonies of New France, to an area that included southeastern Quebec, eastern Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Some say the name came from the Greek “Arcadia” meaning “rural contentment.” It was thought to be named by Verazanno who sailed near the maritimes in 1524. The name “Acadian” was the name given to the early French settlers who migrated from France to Acadia. Note that the name “Acadian” was transformed into “Cajun” in Louisiana. The English pronunciation of “Acadien” explains its spelling (Acadien -> Acadjunn -> Cajun).
These early settlers came to Acadia because in 1604 there was a war going on in Europe between France and Great Britain. Many were tired of fighting the war and anxious to see the new world. So Sieur de Monts & Samuel de Champlain both set sail in April and arrived in the new world in August. They landed on St.Croix Island in the Bay of Fundy. There they cut down all the trees to build houses. They only had the food that they had brought with them on the trip. They suffered from scurvy and malnutrition, half the men died!
June of 1605 a ship came to the Island and the survivors were loaded aboard and brought to the site of Port Royal. Poutrincourt had chosen the site, built the Habitation and they had been greeted by the Native Indians who had become friends. The Natives taught them to survive using the land, they also shared their food, helped with the work, and spent time together learning and teaching in turn!
The colonization of Acadia starts with the founding of Port Royal in 1605. Many new French settlers arrived there, they worked hard, tilling the soil and erecting dikes which prevented high tides from soaking and ruining the main land. The dikes also led run-off from the fields back to the ocean. This special system was refined over long periods of time and called “Aboiteaux”. They built houses, planted gardens, and upgraded the conditions of the Habitation. Marc Lescarbo wrote a play called “Le Theatre de Neptune”(Neptune Theatre) which established a theatre and began the Ordre de Bon Temps, which became the first social club in North America in 1606. Within a matter of years, the population there grew significantly. With patience and devoted time, Port Royal became a prosperous agricultural district.
Throughout the 1600s Acadia grew in communities and population, it passed back and forth between England and France several times. During one of its English periods in the 1620s, James I, a Scottish King, granted the land to a poet and fellow Scot, William Alexander, who named it New Scotland or Nova Scotia.
The women played a great part in the lives of the new Acadian settlers. They could spin and weave wool, cook, sew and do light work in the fields. In those days wealth was measured by workload, so most people had large families knowing that all the children would do their own share of the work. There were no orphanages in those days either, a member of the child’s family took them in to raise as one of their own. They would often gather at someone’s house and enjoyed singing, dancing and exchanging jokes while they worked, and were always ready to lend each other a helping hand. They were very pious and they, along with their husbands, believed in peace, tranquillity…and equality. Children were taught their schooling at home, or the oldest person in the village would teach them. A brave, strong woman was usually picked to become a midwife/doctor or in French they were know as a “Sage Femme”.
Except for some short periods of British occupation, Acadia remained French up to 1713. Up to 1713, Acadia was made up of the present Atlantic provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island then known as Ile St-Jean and some parts of Newfoundland. Poor Acadia Britain and France constantly arguing over it and Acadia with no interest in either of them. In 1713 the Treaty of Paris is signed , a part of Acadia is definitely ceded to Britain, that is Nova Scotia with the exception of Cape Breton where was situated the fortress of Louisbourg. What corresponds to New Brunswick is claimed by both France and England, but remained under French control until 1755.
The Acadians who refused to move to Cape Breton were given one year to decide whether go or to stay and to swear fealty to Britain. They refused both but promised to stay neutral. In 1754 the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia was sure that the Acadians would side with Louisbourg so they were forced to Halifax to swear fealty to Britain where once again the Acadians refused.
In 1755 the Expulsion or the Grand Derangement began, the aftermath made immortal by Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline”. British soldiers separated families and put them on ships. Approximately 6,000 people in all were deported to areas such as : New England, Louisiana, France and England, to name a few. Some drowned at sea in shipwrecks.
In 1762 there was peace in Nova Scotia, some Acadians walked across Maine, and New Brunswick to Grand Pre where they were given land in St. Mary’s Bay at Majors Point (in what’s now known as Clare) Most were farmers but the land wasn’t farming land so as resourceful as they were they turned to the sea and became fishermen. Many Acadians came back to Acadia and many are still here even now!
The Acadian Flag is like the flag of France except for the gold star in the blue. Each colour has significant meaning which is as follows :