Grand Pré National Historic Site of Canada

Grand-Pré Rural Historic District

Today, the name Grand-Pré is applied to a loosely defined geographic area, which consists of several thousand acres of cultivated marshlands and gently rolling uplands containing farms, orchards and the continuous villages of Grand-Pré, North Grand-Pré and Hortonville.

The Acadians landscape, with its overlay of Planter cultural resources, continues to define the unique sense of place of Grand-Pré and the surrounding area. On June 20, 2004, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada unveiled a plaque commemorating the national significance of the Grand-Pré Rural Historic District.

View of Grand-Pré's surroundings.  In front, the commemorative church steeple at Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada; in the background, the farmlands, the dykes and Cap Blomidon.
View of Grand-Pré's surroundings with the commemorative church steeple, the farmlands, the dykes and Cap Blomidon
© François Gaudet, 2000

The villages of Grand-Pré and Hortonville, and the fertile farmlands, which surround them, comprise one of the oldest settlement and land use patterns of European origin in Canada. Acadians began settling near Grand-Pré in the 1680s, attracted by the vast stretches of tidal marshes. Employing ingenious dyke-building techniques developed at Port-Royal, Acadian farmers enclosed over one thousand acres of marshland which, when desalinated, created superior cropland. The houses of Grand-Pré village, scattered amidst the orchards and woodlots of the uplands fringe, stood along the southern boundary of the principal marsh. Following the Acadian deportation in 1755, a British township survey was superimposed on the area for the settlement of New England Planters, who adopted the existing marshland agricultural technology. The Planters' main settlement, which survives as the present villages of Grand-Pré and Hortonville, developed on the site of its Acadian predecessor. The combined agricultural traditions of the Acadians and the Planters have evolved to create the distinctive rural landscape of today's Grand-Pré.