DIMOCK HOUSE – AN ACADIAN HOME? (January 17/03)

“You seem to be very interested in the Acadian history of the area,” Melissa Dimock wrote via e-mail from Ottawa. “Have you ever heard about the Dimock House?”

I hadn’t and it turned out that the Dimock house is one of the oldest standing dwelling in this region and may be Acadian in origin. I learned this when I asked Ms. Dimock for more information about the house.

Dimock house, which is located in Pereau about three miles north-east of Canning, is the “family homestead,” Ms. Dimock wrote. “It’s a tiny little thing and has no proper plumbing. It has been gutted for the last 10 years or so in an attempt to save it from the ravages of time.”

Ms. Dimock’s family has lived in Pereau for almost 200 years and have owned the Dimock house since 1873. The dwelling’s origin was suggested when Ms. Dimock’s father, Ron Dimock, noticed features about the house similar to Acadian construction. “A family trip to Louisbourg happened to coincide with my Dad’s repair work on the old house,” Ms. Dimock said. “While we were at the fort my Dad noticed striking similarities in the method of construction between some of the wooden buildings and our little house.”

“Our house was built in such a way that it could be taken apart and moved to another site quite easily – even transported by boat if need be. The whole house more or less rested on four huge cornerposts and was put together with pins. Since we knew our house predated 1800 – I don’t recall the exact date but I think we were able to trace ownership of the house back to around 1770 – (and) this is where things got interesting.

“A team of archaeologists came out and did a dig… but couldn’t find anything conclusive. A number of experts thought there was a good possibility that this was a pre-expulsion Acadian home that was somehow missed during the destruction of the settlements. The results of the dig were published in a curatorial report.”

The curatorial report Ms. Dimock referred to is on file at Acadia University and was published in 1991. The archaeological survey of Dimock House was done in 1988 and as Ms. Dimock mentioned, no definite conclusion were reached re its Acadian origin. In its conclusions the report said that there was “an apparent conflict between the architectural elements, which appear to be of a style associated with the Acadian period, and the ownership history which can only be traced into the late 18th century.”

While the report stated that excavations did not produce clear evidence of an Acadian occupation, it didn’t rule out this possibility. The report suggested several possibilities on the origin of the house; one is that Dimock House is Acadian, was overlooked during the general destruction of Acadian property during the expulsion, and was moved to its present location some time after 1755.

Given the fact that many Acadians “escaped the expulsion decree in the Minas area and were later used as labourers by the Planters,” it’s possible that Dimock House was built by Acadians and occupied by New Englanders.

Another possibility suggested in the curatorial report is that Dimock House was built by Acadians who returned to the Minas area after the expulsion. A search of deeds by Ron Dimock found that in 1796 the house was owned by a man with an Acadian surname, Dan Pineo.

The curatorial report suggests that further research is needed to determine the origin of Dimock House, but nothing has been done since the 1998 survey.

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