The Acadians of Atlantic Canada

by E.B. Lapointe

The 400th anniversary of French settlement in Atlantic Canada will take place in 2004. Many celebrations are scheduled to take place in honour of these settlers who came from western areas of France to settle the colony of L'Acadie (Acadia) on the eastern shores of Canada. In 2005, the 400th anniversary of the discovery and settlement of Port Royal, Nova Scotia will be celebrated.

Pierre de Guast (Sieur de Monts) was the first to come to Acadia to set up a fur trade industry for France in the New World. From 1604 to 1630, various French explorers such as Samuel de Champlain and Charles LeTour made trips to Acadia and established a settlement at Port Royal as well as settlements along the South Shore of the province. But very few women came with them, and so the area remained as a place to put temporary fishing settlements.

In September of 1632, that all changed. Isaac de Razilly, cousin of King Louis XIII of France, landed at the mouth of the LaHave River at the site of the present-day town of Bridgewater, on Nova Scotia's South Shore with male and female settlers as part of the Company of New France.

By the first census in 1671, there were 59 family heads and 320 persons in Acadia. Today, there are over 30,000 Acadians living in Nova Scotia.

The Centre acadien, located at Pointe-de-l'Eglise (Church Point), Nova Scotia, holds an historical and genealogical archives which gives a very complete history of the Acadians in the Maritime Provinces. The website is <http://www.ustanne.ednet.ns.ca/cacadien>. Tel: (902) 769-2114. E-mail: <cacadien@ustanne.ednet.ns.ca>. They are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Acadians came over from the region of present-day New Brunswick to the then-called Ile St. Jean the present-day Prince Edward Island and first settled around Charlottetown. They migrated to Prince Edward Island when the British claimed the mainland. There are approximately 5,500 Acadian families who live there today.

Acadian resources in P.E.I. include the Acadian Museum in Miscouche, which presents Acadian life from 1720 to present <http://www.teleco.org/museeacadien>, as well as the Acadian Pioneer Village of Mount Carmel at <http://www.levillagedelacadie.com>.

It was natural for the Acadians to settle in New Brunswick since it was next door to Nova Scotia. There is an excellent archives and museum at the Centre d'etudes acadiennes at the University of Moncton, at whose website <http://www.umoncton.ca/maum> is an Internet accessible museum, which has permanent as well as travelling exhibits. Tel: (506) 858-4085. Fax: (506) 858-4530.

At the Canadian Genealogy and History Links website is located the Acadian site<http://www.islandnet.com/~jveinot/cghl/acadian.html> which is full of links to Acadian websites. The Acadian GenWeb website at <http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/acres/2162> has a section devoted to Acadian surnames.

The Confederation of Associations of Familles Acadiens (CAFA) <http://www.cafa.org> has an index to Acadian families, listing associations which have websites and those who do not.

Also, there is a Virtual Museum of Acadians at the Museum of Civilization website at <http://www.civilization.ca/vmnf/vmnfe.asp> which is very interesting, and gives a great deal of information to the public about Acadians.

Acadian Genealogies Available for Purchase

You can now order "Acadian-Cajun Family Genealogy" CD-ROM's for the specific family you are researching, for just $26.95 each (USA Funds). Each CD-ROM includes lineage-linked genealogical information on between 1,000+ to 25,000+ individuals, along with pertinent Acadian-Cajun historical texts and a bunch of Acadian songs (with lyrics). Click here for a list of available surnames

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    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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