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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


Acadia Q & A for Louisbourg

Fortress of Louisbourg


What is the significance of 2004?

The first French attempt at permanent settlement was at Isle St. Croix, near the Maine/New Brunswick border in 1604. It was lead by Pierre du Gua, sieur de Monts, his cartographer was Samuel de Champlain. The first winter was very difficult and the colony was moved to Port Royal the following year.

Where was Acadia?

The territory of Acadia was never clearly defined. In 1604 the French meant by Acadia, all of Nova Scotia, the Maritime provinces, the islands of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. In 1621 Sir William Alexander was granted a charter to "Nova Scotia", claiming much of the same territory for the British. The "Acadia" ceded to the British by the French in 1713 was mainland Nova Scotia. Today we speak of Acadian communities throughout the Atlantic region, particularly in the resettled areas of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as Cape Breton and mainland Nova Scotia, and parts of Newfoundland.

Who were the Acadians?

The first permanent French settlers of Acadia came in the mid-century after the period of "New Scotland."Only a few families date from prior to 1640. In the 1640s a small group came from central France, from the area of Loudon, near Poitiers in the region of Poitou. This group is credited with introducing dyking technology for clearing marshes.
Names from Acadian documents from the mid 17th century linked to this region of France are: Babin, Belliveau, Bertrand, Bour, Brault, Brun, Dugast, Dupuy, Gaudet, Giroire, Joffriau, Landry, Le Blanc, Morin, Poirier, Raimbaut, Savoie, Thibodeau. Other families found in this area of France at that time were: Blanchard, Bourg, Brault, Giroire, Godet, Guérin, and Terriot. (Arsenault, 1965) Immigration to Acadia was slow, but Basque, Norman and even Portuguese fishermen and traders joined the settlements through the end of the 17th century.

Who were the Acadians of Cape Breton?

Cape Breton's acadians came here after 1713, from Plaisance in Newfoundland and some came from mainland Nova Scotia. Those who were successful fished and were coastal treaders. These Acadian families' names appeared in records from the Isle Madame area before and after 1758: Arceneau, Benoist, Boucher, Boudrot, Boy, Cardet , Daigle, Dugas , Fougère, Giroir, Josse , Joseph, Lambert, Landry, Langlois, LeBlanc, Le Jeune, Marchand, Martel, Petitpas, Poirier, Samson, Vigneau. During the American Revolutionary war many Acadians moved to safer settlements on the west side of Cape Breton, such as at Chéticamp. These communities were joined by French fleeing the Revolution in France and from Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

Where did the word "Acadia" come from?

The explorer, Verrazano, wrote the word "Arcadie", referring to a Greek myth about a land of plenty, on his map of the west coast of North America, extending from Virginia through to Nova Scotia (roughly, this is a 16th century map). The Mi'kmaq term for "place" is pronounced "akatie" and the Abenaki for "fertile place", "quoddy." The name, "Acadia" or "Acadie" in French, may be derived from all of these sources, there is no clear proof that it comes from any one of them.

What was the Deportation?

In 1755 the Acadians in mainland Nova Scotia had been living under British rule for 40 years. They had never signed an unconditional oath of allegiance to the British crown. They traded with and married the British but remained independent to a degree, also trading with the French, keeping their language and religion. As tension mounted before the Seven Year's War the British administration in Nova Scotia became less tolerant of the Acadian way of managing their affairs. They asked again for an unconditional oath of allegiance, which would require the French to fight their French and Mi'kmaq friends and relatives if their were a war. When the French refused the British administration at Halifax resolved to deport them. Many Acadians had already fled to Modern Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, but roughly 5000 were deported in 1755. Another 4000 were deported from Isle Royale and Isle Saint-Jean after the fall of Louisbourg in 1758.

Where did the Acadians go?

In 1755 they were deported to the American colonies. From there some tried to return to Acadia, others moved on to French or Catholic territory, Louisiana and the Caribbean.
When the French and Acadians of Isle Royale, including Isle Saint-Jean were deported, they were either sent to France or imprisoned in England. Many Acadians who avoided deportation were later captured and deported or imprisoned in Halifax.

A small number of Acadians eluded the British and escaped to Gaspé or Québec or hid in the woods through the period, many with the help of the Mi'kmaq.

How is Louisbourg connected to Acadia?

Families: many of Louisbourg's upper class, military officers and government officials had married Acadian women when they were posted at Port Royal. These women, such as Marie and Jeanne Mius d'Entremont, married to François Dupont Duvivier and Louis Dupont Duchambon, came to Louisbourg and were an important part of the community. These families created a strong and lasting link with Acadia. Many of Louisbourg's officers and government officials had served at Port Royal.

Trade: Louisbourg imported agricultural products from Acadia, particularly live cattle. These were usually carried by Acadian coastal shippers. This trade was very important to Acadia's economy.

Work: Acadian carpenters, such as Joseph Dugas, Acadian merchants, such as Michel ridrigue, and came to Louisbourg for work opportunities. Many Acadian girls, particularly after 1750, worked as household servants at Louisbourg.
Ex: Marie Pinet, servant of Capt de Villejouin in 1749, was the daughter of Charles Pinet, a carpenter from Acadia, census 1734. Had relatives in Port Toulouse. Was married to a fisherman in Petit de Grat in 1757.

Religion and the Mi'kmaq: Catholicism was important to Acadians and the Mi'kmaq. Missionaries from Louisbourg served on mainland Nova Scotia and created an important link between the communities. Many Acadians had close family ties with the Mi'kmaq, dating from the first years of Acadia. This relationship was important to the French officials and traders at Louisbourg.

Acadian time line: