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Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada

Imperial Struggle

War deeply marked both Europe and North America in the 17th and 18th centuries. The rush to find overseas colonies pitted European powers against each other in the race to increase their economic prosperity and global influence

Between the early 1600s and the mid 1700s, the French and the English both sought to take control of today’s Atlantic Provinces of Canada. Acadie, also known as Nova Scotia, was where most of the conflicts occurred. Over the course of 100 years, Acadie changed hands seven times. The last regime change was in 1713, when France ceded the area to the British with the Treaty of Utrecht.

This imperial struggle also marked Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) and Isle Royale (Cape Breton). Those two islands were in French hands after 1713, until 1745 when they were captured by the New Englanders.  They were both transferred back to France in 1748 with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, and re-occupied by colonists and soldiers from France the following year. Captured for a second time in 1758, the two islands thereafter remained British possessions, renamed St. John's Island and Cape Breton.

The imperial rivalry over the region led some colonists, a majority of them Acadians, to opt for neutrality. Yet that was not a stance that either the French or the British welcomed or encouraged. In the end, the Acadians paid dearly for trying to negotiate a middle way between the two powers.