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The Acadian Deportation

For the Week of Monday, July 25, 2016

On July 28, 1755, the Governor of Nova Scotia, Charles Lawrence, acting on behalf of the British Crown, ordered the deportation of the Acadians who had settled in the former French colony.

The Memorial Chapel of Grand-Pré
©Parks Canada / Chris Reardon

This came about after the Acadians refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. The Acadian settlers, who were also under pressure from the French who sought to strengthen the cohesion of New France in the first weeks of the Seven Years’ War, wanted to maintain their neutrality. The British, in turn, feared that the Acadians would take up arms against them and were concerned by the presence of the French military garrisons at Louisbourg and Fort Beauséjour.

The deportation began at Chignecto Bay on August 11, 1755, following the fall of Fort Beauséjour. On September 5, 1755, the deportation reached Grand-Pré, in the Minas Region. Between October 8 and December 13, 1755, Acadians from Grand-Pré were deported to other British colonies in the Americas. The Acadian communities of Port Royal, Beaubassin, and many others were affected by the “Great Expulsion.” The British burned numerous buildings and arranged for English Protestant colonists to settle on what had been Acadian lands.

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The Grand-Pré dike in 1926. This technology allowed the Acadians to cultivate land below sea-level and is now a symbol of the Acadian identity
Canada. Dept. of Mines and Technical Surveys / Library and Archives Canada / PA-020116 / G.A. Bennett

The deportation continued until 1762. By its end, approximately 10,000 Acadians were deported out of an estimated 14,000 from what are now the Maritime Provinces. With the help of the Mi’kmaq, several hundred Acadians escaped, finding refuge along the shores of the Baie des Chaleurs and the Miramichi River in New Brunswick. Several hundred others found safety in Quebec and on the islands of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. At the end of the war, which was formally recognized in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, many Acadians began heading home. Others chose to stay where they had been relocated, creating many new cultural communities.

The Deportation of the Acadians is a designated national historic event commemorated in Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia, a community that has also been deemed a national historic site. The Memorial Chapel of Grand-Pré is a federal heritage building.

To find out more about the history of Acadia and the Acadians, read the articles Acadian Odyssey, The Return of the Acadians and National Acadian Day in the This Week in History archives.

Follow us on Twitter @ParksCanada. Find out more about the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

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