Annapolis River - Grand Dérangement
Deportation of the Acadians
In 1754, war broke out in North America between the
French and the British. The British authorities in Nova
Scotia became very concerned about their Acadian colonists.
Would they honour their pledge of neutrality, or would
they join the French to fight the British?
The Lieutenant Governor, Edward Cornwallis, decided
to find out. He ordered the Acadians to take a very strongly
worded oath pledging their support to the British. The
Acadians pointed out that they had always been loyal
citizens, and offered to give up their arms, but they
did not want to take another oath.
The Acadians seemed to have some misunderstanding of
the seriousness of the situation. The British were determined
to have their way. It may be that some of the British
wanted to take over the rich Acadian farms.
When the British ordered the Acadians deported from
Nova Scotia, they planned it poorly, and a culture was
brutally dislocated. Acadian families were broken up,
never to be reunited.
The British plan was to send the Acadians by ship to
the Thirteen Colonies to the south or to England. Some
people ran away to hide in the forests along the Annapolis
Rivers to escape deportation. Meanwhile, their homes
and barns were burned to the ground.
On board ship, storms, shortages of drinking water and
food, and poor sanitary conditions condemned many of
the refugees to a miserable death. One ship, the Cornwallis,
lost 207 of the 417 Acadians on board.
The Expulsion or 'Grand Dérangement,' as the Acadians
called it, lasted seven years, until 1762. It is difficult
to know exactly how many Acadians were deported. It is
estimated that the total number deported was about 10,000,
out of a total Acadian population of 13,000.
In 1764 the British permitted Acadians to return to
Nova Scotia. Since other people now owned their farms
and properties, however, few returning Acadians took
advantage of the offer. It is estimated that about 3,000
came back. But the artifacts remaining of their culture
were few. Most had been destroyed.
Acadians today, living in the Annapolis River region
and elsewhere in the province of Nova Scotia, are experiencing
a cultural renaissance. They retain their strong cultural
identity that is expressed most effectively through their
language and their music.
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