Grand Pré National Historic Site of Canada
The world-famous statue of Evangeline in front of the Memorial Church © Parks Canada / Société Promotion Grand-Pré
Statue of Evangeline © Parks Canada / Société Promotion Grand-Pré
Grand-Pré is more strongly identified with the Deportation than any other site because of the detailed journal kept by Winslow in 1755, and because of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow chose it as the setting of his epic poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie published in 1847.
Longfellow's poem became a rallying point for the Acadian people following its publication in 1847. The story of a young Acadian girl from Grand-Pré, separated from her betrothed, touched millions of people around the world. Much more than a fictitious character, Evangeline symbolizes the perseverance of the Acadian people.
John Frederic Herbin purchased the site of the church and cemetery of Saint-Charles-des-Mines in 1907 and established Grand-Pré Park as a memorial to the Acadians. Two years later, Herbin erected a stone cross to mark the cemetery. In 1917, he sold the park to the Dominion Atlantic Railway on condition that the church site be deeded to the Acadian people. The railway company assumed responsibility for the park and landscaped the grounds the same year. In 1920, the company unveiled the statue of Evangeline near the park entrance, close to the train station.
At a special ceremony at Grand-Pré during the 1921 Acadian National Convention, the Société mutuelle de l'Assomption took official title to the church site. In 1922, the Société mutuelle de l'Assomption built the present day Memorial Church with funds donated by Acadians across North America. The interior of the Memorial Church was completed in 1930.
Grand-Pré continued as an important focus of the Acadian renaissance throughout the 1920s and beyond. The 1956 agreement between the federal government and the Société Nationale l'Assomption, acting on behalf of the Acadian people, acknowledged that "the Grand-Pré Park is considered the most important historic Site by the Acadian people, that it recalls their saddest and most heroic moments and must remain for future generations the example of courageous people whose culture and actions shall enrich more and more the Canadian nation".
The Government of Canada acquired Grand-Pré Memorial Park in 1957 and declared it a national historic site in 1961.