ACADIAN VILLAGES IN KINGS, HANTS (January 31/03)

“This paper was digested in July, 1755, at the period when the measure was first proposed, probably before it was sanctioned,” reads the introduction to a document titled “Judge Morris’ Remarks Concerning the Removal of the Acadians.”

Published in the collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society in 1881, the document describes Acadian settlements in Kings and Hants County, suggesting how troops best be deployed so no one escaped the expulsion.

This papers assesses the military action necessary to complete the expulsion, and confirms that it indeed was a heartless, inhumane, cold-blooded affair. However, while it wasn’t Morris’ intent, his paper is a review of Acadian settlements here in the pre-expulsion period. You may be as surprised as I was to find that several flourishing Acadians settlements were within or close to Kentville, New Minas, Wolfville and Windsor. Here is Morris’ review of Acadian settlements as he saw them about 250 years ago:

“The greatest district and that which comprehends the most families is that of Minas, to whom belong the inhabitants of the Gaspero. In 1748 they were reported to be in number, upwards of 200 families, of which 180 families live in Minas, 30 on the Gaspero, and about 16 in two small villages on the River Habitants.

“These all dwell within the compass of six miles and occupy for their livelihood and subsistence these marshes which are situated on the Basin of Minas called Grand Pre, on the north of the River Habitants and on the River Gaspero.

“The River Canard settlement lies to the south west. and contains about 150 families, of whom 50 live on a point of land lying between the River Habitants and the River Canard; 60 live on the west side of the river in a compact village about two miles from its mouth, and 25 more up the river along the banks on both sides (for the convenience of the marsh) to Penus Mills, which are near the road coming from Annapolis to Minas; and distant from Grand Pre nine miles from the mouth of the Canard to the River of the Neiux Habitants, are settled 10 families and 4 or 5 families more at the River Pero. All these inhabitants have by rivers aforesaid a communication by water with the Basin of Minas and some live contiguous to it.

“Pezaquid is a settlement north-easterly of Minas; they are scattered in many small villages, the principal of which are settled on the River Pezaquid, above the confluence of the River St. Croix. On the River St. Croix these are situated between Fort Edward and the district of Minas and southerly towards the road to Halifax.

“A few small villages belonging to this district are to the east and northward of Fort Edward, and a few families at Cape Fondu, which makes the east head of the great river of Pezaquid. These have all communications by water with the Basin of Minas and are in the whole, upwards of 150 families.”

The point made over and over in this document is that the Acadians depended upon their rivers for transportation and these are “the passages by which they may desert the Colony and the means of blocking them up.” It strikes me as odd that the government is considering the removal of the Acadians, and yet wants to prevent them from leaving on their own.

It’s possible that Judge Morris’ paper hastened the expulsion. Inadvertently perhaps, the document pointed out that the Acadians thrived on vast farms acreage ripe for the taking.

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