This Week in History


The Return of the Acadians

This story was initialy published in 1999

On February 10, 1763, the Treaty of Paris concluded the Seven Years' War between Great Britain and France. This agreement also ended the seven-year exile of the Acadians in North America.

Embarkation of the Acadians 
© Library and Archives Canada / C-070232

The Acadians came from France beginning in the mid-1630s to settle in New France. Many were peasants in their own country and most continued to work as farmers once they arrived. To this end, the Acadians set up an inventive system of dykes, called aboiteaux, to turn swamps into farmland. Overcoming many obstacles, these immigrants established a stable life in the New World.

Unfortunately, the English and the French were fighting over Acadia. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 transferred the colony of Nova Scotia to Britain. Tensions, however, continued to mount and resulted in the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756. The Acadians did not want to fight and many signed a treaty promising not to join the French army. However, the Acadians' ally, the Mi'kmaq, sided with the French, which worried the British. As a result, the British decided to expel all the Acadians.

Acadians Ordered Expelled

Acadians Ordered Expelled
© Library and Archives Canada / C-73709

Families were separated and many died on the overcrowded ships. An estimated 13 000 Acadians ended up scattered all over the 13 Colonies, the Caribbean, France, Louisiana and England. In some of these colonies they were sent away again. The Treaty of Paris ended their seven-year exile from their Acadian homeland. Unfortunately for many, it was difficult to return. Their farms, which they had worked so hard to build on the swamps, were largely taken over by British settlers. As a result, most Acadians resettled to present-day New Brunswick where their culture still thrives. Others relocated to Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

In Memramcook, N.B., the Monument Lefebvre National Historic Site commemorates the Acadian Odyssey and the revival of Acadian culture. Grand-Pré, N.S., a centre of settlement and deportation of the Acadians, is a National Historic Site. There is a plaque commemorating the Return of the Acadians at Sainte-Anne-du-Bocage, N.B.

Date Modified: