THE ACADIANS AFTER THE EXPULSION (February 2/01)

In his book on the history of the old Windsor burying grounds, Henry Youle Hind gives us a glimpse of the fate of some of the Acadians after the expulsion. We learn, for example, that a number of Acadians were held as prisoners at Fort Edward in Windsor – well over 100 I believe – and were used as a labour force long after the expulsion took place.

In general, mainstream history ignores the Acadians after the expulsion. However, thanks to writers like Hind and other researchers, the story of the Acadians after the expulsion has unfolded. You may not be surprised to know that a lot of work by individuals has gone into tracing the Acadians after the expulsion, and that much of what has been learned can be found on the Internet.

I was apprised of this recently by Lucie LeBlanc Consentino who told me about websites devoted to Acadian history. The expulsion of the Acadians is a black period in Nova Scotia history and much of the true story is hidden in our archives. But don’t take my word for it. If you have Internet access and are interested in the Acadian story, click on http://www.acadian-home.org/frames.html. One of the postings you will find at this site is the list of Acadians imprisoned after the expulsion at forts in the Maritimes, one of them Fort Edward in Windsor.

When she wrote me recently, Ms. Consentino included in her e-mail letter a brief overview of the plight of the Acadians after the expulsion. This is a story you won’t find in the history books.

“Over 10,000 Acadians were exiled to the New England Colonies or imprisoned in Britain,” Ms. Consentino wrote. “The expulsion/deportation/exile was not a one-time thing – it lasted from 1755 to 1763 when the Treaty of Paris was signed between France and Britain. At the time all exiles were repatriated to France.

“In 1758 the British realized many Acadians were living on Ile St-Jean/Prince Edward Island. They immediately went there to deport more Acadians. It is estimated that at least 2,000 died at sea when the overloaded ships went down on their way to France.

“When the Treaty was signed, a census was ordered by France everywhere Acadians were known to have been exiled. This is how the list of prisoners was obtained. Acadians were also imprisoned at Fort Edward and at Fort Cumberland that had fallen to the British and renamed from Fort Beausejour. It is at Fort Beausejour that some of my ancestors were imprisoned.

“There were not many Acadians who escaped into the woods that survived. Many had gone to Restigouche but were dying of starvation (eating leather to survive) so (they) surrendered to the British at Cumblerland.

“Many died while in exile. When the years of exile ended, Acadians resettled in New Brunswick, some to Nova Scotia (not that many) Quebec, and in 1758 many of those imprisoned in England and repatriated to France in 1763 set sail for Louisiana. These Acadians became known as the Cajuns because they would say there were A KA JIN, so Cajin/Cajun stuck.”

If you’re interested in looking for your ancestors, the Consentino website has a map of Acadian settlements dated 1700 with family names. Also at the site are Acadian census records, a list of Grand Pre deportees and the names of Acadians held prisoner at the Windsor fort.

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