Families from France first settled in Acadie in the 1630s. In the early 1680s, Pierre Melanson and Marguerite Mius d'Entremont and their children moved from Port-Royal to found Grand-Pré on the upland that overlooked the vast salt marsh or meadow from which the settlement took its name. Others followed and a vibrant Acadian community flourished along the rivers and shores of the Minas Basin.

By the beginning of the 18th century, the area of Les Mines was the largest population centre in Acadie. In 1750, an estimated 2,450 Acadians were living there, with another 2,500 in the Pisiquid and Cobequid areas, which had originally been considered part of Les Mines. Grand-Pré was the largest individual settlement in Acadie, with an estimated 1,350 inhabitants. The village extended two and one-half kilometres along the uplands and consisted of houses, farm buildings, storehouses, windmills and the parish church of Saint-Charles-des-Mines.

Agriculture flourished in the area of Les Mines. Acadian families built dykes to enclose and drain large sections of salt marsh and planted crops and reaped bountiful harvests from the fertile land reclaimed from the sea. They shipped surplus grain and cattle to New England, and, after 1720, to Louisbourg, the capital of Isle Royale.