Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grand Pre

Founded in the early 1680’s by young couples from Port Royal, Grand Pre became the bread basket of Acadie.
The Acadian people were caught between the often warring French and English, who both were trying to claim this important area.

The Acadians developed a means of draining the salt marshes along this coast and turned them into what is still one of the best fertile farming areas in North America.  The dykes they made prevented salt water from entering the marshes.  In a community effort, they created several thousand acres of fertile farmland.

This is part of an actual dyke used by the Acadians.  Rainwater falling on the marshes washed out the salt into man-made ditches where it flowed out one-way valves into the sea.  The “flapper” in the foreground is a one-way “valve” that prevented sea water from returning to the marshes. 

Even though they wished to remain neutral, in 1755 the British began to deport all Acadians to other parts of the world.  Their houses were burned, their livestock seized and their crops destroyed.  Everything they had, except a few personal belongings, was forfeited to the British Crown.

Grand Pre was one of the largest Acadian settlements before the deportation.  Most of these people never saw their homeland again.  In 1764, they were permitted to return.  Those few who did found their former farms occupied by New England Planters and were not permitted to reclaim their land.

In 1847 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem Evangeline about the deportation.

 We encountered this sad story many times in  our travels in Nova Scotia.

 This cross is believed to be near the actual site of the deportation.  Altogether more than 6,000 Acadians were deported from Nova Scotia, separating many families and scattering them forever.

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