Acadian History - Part 1
The Founding of Acadia

Early French, Portuguese, and English explorers and fishermen reached Acadia in the late 1400s and early 1500s.  Included in their number was Jacques Cartier, in his 1534 and 1535-36 expeditions.   Henri IV granted Pierre Dugas de Mons monopoly of the lands from the 40th to 46th parallels for fishing and fur trading.  In return, he was to settle the land, engage in prospecting, and convert the natives.  This territory was referred to as l'Acadie.  Acadia eventually came to comprise Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and part of Maine.

On board with DeMons was Samuel de Champlain who detailed much in his diary.  They established a settlement at Port Royal after a first attempt across the bay at St. Croix island proved to be a poor choice.  They were forced to return to France in 1607 but the settlement was re-established in 1610.  In 1613 Port Royal was destroyed by the English. Port Royal was eventually re-settled and inhabited by the French. settlers.  Cape Sable and LaHave were also established in the early 1600s.  Charles de La Tour became a key player in settling Acadia from the 1620s through the 1650s.  Acadia changed hands between the French and English several times during the 1600s and 1700s.  The native Micmac Indians were friendly toward the French settlers and some intermarriage occurred. The Micmacs allied with the French in their disputes with the English as well as proving to be valuable trading partners. 

Of the women enumerated in Port Royal (1671 census), some were undoubtedly Micmac, including a 27 year-old by the name of Anne Ouestnorouest, married to Pierre Martin the younger, a 40 year-old farmer.  They had 4 children between 21/2 and 10 years old.  One of the elderly women listed by Father Moline is called Marie Sale.  As the women in the census are usually identified by their maiden names, and as marriages between Micman men and Acadian women were rare, in all likelyhood Marie Sale was a Micmac widow whose husband had been an Acadian. Intermarriage and conversion to Catholicism tended to strengthen the cultural and commercial ties between the Micmac and the Acadian settlers.1

In 1713 Nova Scotia became a British colony and Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal.  The Acadians were generally left alone however, and continued their lifestyle of farming without undue British interference until the 1750s.  They developed interesting farming methods using dykes to reclaim fertile swampland from the sea.  Acadian settlements grew and prospered; the population reached several thousand by the 1750s.

1. Ross, Sally and Deveau, Alphonse  The Acadians of Nova Scotia Past and Present, Nimbus Publishing Limited, 1992, p.29-30

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