In 1604, a group of French settlers arrive on Saint Croix Island, situated where the current border between Maine and New Brunswick is located. The first winter is especially hard for these pioneers, nearly half of whom are killed by scurvy. In the spring of 1605 the colony moves to Port-Royal in what is now Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. This site becomes the first permanent settlement of the French in North America and signals the beginning of the Acadian adventure. Acadie was born on the shores of French Bay, known today as the Bay of Fundy.
The original Acadie was comprised of immigrants from Poitou and Anjou who were joined by fishermen from the Basque country, Brittany and some from Scotland. The treaty of Utrecht ended wars that had been fought in the 18th century between France and England. As a result, France gave up Acadie, Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay to England in 1713.
Despite living on lands owned by the British monarchy and being pressured by the British, most of the Acadians refused to take a pledge of allegiance to the Crown. During the colonial war, British authorities decided to deport the Acadian population to British colonies. As a result, Acadian families in Grand Pré were deported during the summer of 1755. The Great Dispersion of Acadian families continued until 1763 at the signing of the Treaty of Paris. At that time, France gave up all its colonial possessions in North America to England except the island of St-Pierre and Miquelon. At this time British authorities allowed Acadians to return to Acadie in small isolated groups.
Less than 100 years later, the famous American poet H.W. Longfellow published the poem Evangeline, which will later be translated into more than 130 languages. Thanks to this poem, hundreds of thousands of Americans and Europeans discovered the tragic plight of the Acadian people.
In the 19th century, Acadians experienced a renaissance which is confirmed to this day by their willingness to survive and to preserve their heritage. They now have tools to ensure their educational and cultural development. In 1864, the Collège Saint-Joseph in Memramcook was founded and became the first institution to provide higher education in Acadie. Acadians from Nova Scotia followed suit at the end of the 19th century and the Collège Sainte-Anne, known today as Université Sainte-Anne, opened its doors in 1890 at Church Point. Many other classical colleges became the alma mater of several generations of Acadians, especially in New Brunswick. In 1963, the Université de Moncton was founded and it became the largest French language higher education institution outside Quebec, with campuses in Edmundston, Shippagan and Moncton.
Since the Acadian World Congress in 1994, Acadians from North America have become more interested in their genealogy. Many associations of Acadian families were created and they have conducted extensive research on their ancestral origins. The Acadian museum of Prince Edward Island and the Archives Center of Pubnico-Ouest in Nova Scotia possess a large number of historical and genealogical resources on Acadian families from all over the world. The Université Sainte-Anne and Université de Moncton each have an Acadian study center.
Acadie is more vibrant than ever in a large number of small communities situated along the Atlantic coast and inland. Acadians live in a small lots throughout the territory they once occupied and they have kept the language of old France. The only differences between the language of Acadians in the Acadian peninsula of New Brunswick and that of the Baie Sainte-Marie region of Nova Scotia are the accents which have been adapted to their surroundings and have evolved over time as they came in contact with other cultures.
Today’s Acadie is filled with joie de vivre and artistic creativity. Its people are hard-working and the audacity of its entrepreneurs is reflected in the strength of its institutions, its businesses and its institutions of learning.
Acadie is anxious to show you its proud hospitality, to introduce you to its rich heritage and to share with you its dreams and its day-to-day life.
July 28, 1755 : Date of the official signature for the Acadian Deportation
It was in Halifax on July 28th, 1755 that the Nova Scotia Council made the decision to remove every Acadian from the colony because they refused to take the oath of allegiance to Britain.
The English deported 12000 Acadians in various British Colonies of New-England (Eastern States of America), in England and in France. Many Acadians perished, families were seperated, their possessions were taken away, their farms and harvests were distroyed by flames
1847 – Did you know the name Evangeline did not exist in the Acadian community before the publication of Longfellow’s poem?
Altough she is a fictionnal character, Evangeline is the most famous Acadian heroine in litterature. The poem: Evangeline: A Tale of Acadia, by american author Henry Wadsworth Longefellow, was published in 1847. It tells the tale of two young lovers, Evangeline and Gabriel, who grew up together in the village of Grand Pré. Her courage, the challenges she faced, and her never ending love for Gabrial conquered the respect and admiration for generation of readers from l’Acadie and around the world.
July 8, 1867 : le Moniteur Acadien newspaper is born
The first french newspaper in the maritimes made its debut in Shediac, New Brunswick on July 8th, 1867. This four page weekly newspaper, created by Israël Landry, copied national and international news from other newspapers but would rely on its volunteers to provide local information. The Moniteur Acadien was published until 1926 and since then, more than forty newspaper were published in l’Acadie.
1881 First Acadian national congress in Memramcook. Delegates choose August 15 as the Acadian national holiday. At this congress, the Société nationale de l’Acadie was created.
1884 Second Acadian national congress at Miscouche, Prince-Edward-Island. Acadians adopt their flag which constitutes the Franch flag to which a gold-coloured star to commemorate the Virgin Mary was added to the blue section. Also adopted was the Ave Maris Stella as the national anthem.
August 16, 1884 : The Acadian flag is raised for the very first time
The Acadian flag was chosen in Miscouche, PEI in 1884 at the second national Acadian Convention. To honour the French heritage of Acadians, the Acadian flag is based on the blue, white and red flag of France. The yellow star, symbol of the Virgin Mary, was added to the upper left corner of the blue band to represent the Catholic faith. This star of the sea, Stella Maris, provides Mary’s light and protection to guide mariners through storms and around shoals, toward the future. It was designed by Father Marcel-François-Richard and sewn by Marie Babineau, from Saint-Louis-de-Kent (NB). You can find the original flag at the Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton.
July 12, 1960 : The Honorable Louis Robichaud becomes the first Acadien Premier elected in New Brunswick
Louis Joseph Robichaud was born in Saint-Antoine in New Brunswick. He was the first Acadien to be elected as Premier of New Brunswick on July 12, 1960.
‘’His administration, more than any other government in the province’s history, was also responsible for providing Acadians with equal status and opportunity in the province. His government created the Université de Moncton to educate Acadians and foster their culture, and it passed the Official Languages Act, which made French an official language, thereby guaranteeing Acadians access to government services in French and increasing the number of Acadians employed in the provincial public service.’’
Source : Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick (17 June 2009)
June 19, 1963 : L’Université de Moncton is born
After a Board of Inquiry decision about university education in New Brunswick l’Université de Moncton was founded on June 19, 1963. Six New Brunswick colleges were fusioned to create the three campuses that exist today. This french-speaking university welcomes more than 5000 students in its Moncton, Edmundston and Shippagan campuses.
November 20, 1979 : Antonine Maillet wins the Prix Goncourt
Novelist and playwright, Antonine Maillet, receives the Prix Goncourt on November 20, 1979 for the novel ‘’Pélagie-la-charette’’. It was the first time this prize was awarded to a writer, outside of France.
Her imaginary universe is rooted in the geography, history and people of l’Acadie. Her novels, often reworked for the theatre, fuse adventure, desire, frustration, agony and joy to offer a new image of the original Acadie, restructured to fit an epic vision.
Her book La Sagouine inspired the creation of the Pays de la Sagouine in her hometown of Bouctouche in New Brunswick.
1994 – French translation of Avec Maris Stella
The Ave Maris Stella was selected as the Acadian National Anthem at the National Convention in Misouche. In 1994, during the preparation stages of the first Congrès mondial acadien, a contest was launched to compose a french version of this national hymn and Jacinthe Laforest’s text was chosen.
Acadie ma patrie
À ton nom, je me lie
Ma vie, ma foi sont à toi
Tu me protégeras (bis)
Acadie ma patrie
Ma terre et mon défi
De près, de loin tu me tiens
Mon cœur est acadien (bis)
Acadie ma patrie
Ton histoire, je la vis
La fierté, je te la dois
En l’avenir, je crois (bis)
August 12-22, 1994 : First World Acadian Congress
More than 300, 000 people participated in the first ever World Acadian Congress held in the Acadie-Beauséjour region (south-east New Brunswick). This immense gathering was named as one of the events of the World Decade for Cultural (1988-1997) by UNESCO.
February 8, 1995 : Roméo LeBlanc is the first acadian to become Governor General of Canada.
The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada on February 8, 1995, following a long and distinguished career of public service. An Acadian born in Memramcook, New Brunswick in 1927, he was installed as Canada’s 25th Governor General since Confederation, and the first from the Atlantic Provinces.