Memories of Our Communities
Beginning in 1755, thousands of Acadians were deported from the Maritime Provinces. In 1764, however, Acadians still in the region received permission to re-establish their settlements. The Acadians who eventually settled in what is now Kouchibouguac National Park came from elsewhere in New Brunswick such as Memramcook and the Gaspésie region of Québec. Almost simultaneously, United Empire Loyalists from the United States and immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, England, and elsewhere also arrived; they established prosperous farms and many successful businesses.
Starting in 1969, however, the lands of approximately 1,200 Acadian and English-speaking residents, comprising about 228 households, were expropriated to create Kouchibouguac National Park. Some Acadians compared the shock of the expropriation with their ancestors’ deportations centuries earlier. The Government of Canada eventually stopped the practice of expropriating people’s lands to create national parks.
The memory of the villages that were once located in what is now the park – Cap-Saint-Louis, Claire-Fontaine, Fontaine, Guimond-Village, Kouchibouguac (includes Middle and South Kouchibouguac,), Rivière-du-Portage, and Saint-Olivier rests mainly with the former residents, whose traditions, beliefs, and identities were inextricably linked to the land and water.
A variety of interpretive techniques are used to highlight the rich history of the former residents. An eye-catching wall-size map and a large stylized “house” diorama form the central elements within the exhibit. They provide the backdrop for several main elements, including the Creation of a National Park. Period photos, newspapers and film clips are used to set the context for the creation of Kouchibouguac National Park and the conflict that ensued. Surrounding the central diorama are seven large photo-mural-style panels representing each of the former villages. The Bounty of the Land and Waters element combines archival photos, dioramas, artifacts, and oral history recordings to portray the common experiences that the people shared with the environment and the natural resources that they depended on to survive.
In the Legacy component, the 228 former households are figuratively represented by a “wall” of inter-connected bas-relief mailboxes juxtaposed with seven actual mailboxes symbolizing the villages. An interactive “Memories” kiosk provides access to hundreds of photographs that former residents have given to the park over the years. As well, a list of the families whose lands were expropriated is displayed in one of the building’s windows, drawing a visual connection to the exterior and the places they once lived in.
The Memories of Our Community exhibit was produced by Parks Canada in partnership with members of its Former Residents Advisory Committee.