ACADIANS – A SECOND EXPULSION (March 21/03)

It’s the summer of 1762 and Nova Scotia is in a turmoil. In the seven years since the expulsion, Acadians have been filtering back into the province and their numbers are increasing at an alarming rate; rumours abound that they are exhorting the Mi’kmaq to attack the Planter settlements. Nova Scotia’s Governor Belcher informs the British that the Acadians are “incessant in their endeavours” to break up the Indian peace treaties.

Aggravating the situation was the number of “French prisoners” remaining in the province. These Acadians had been used as a work force since the expulsion and many were roaming the province without supervision. Worried settlers petition the government to prevent the Acadians in the province “from carrying guns or going at large about the country.”

When the government was considering the petition, word came that the French had attacked Newfoundland and captured the capital city of St. Johns. This made it easy for the government to make a decision. There was no other recourse but to round up the Acadians remaining in the province and start a second expulsion.

Since it brought major social changes and was an unprecedented event in Canadian history, much has been written about the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia. But what’s generally unknown is that a second expulsion was attempted some seven years after the first; historians have been relatively quiet about this event which was prompted by the long-running war between the British and French.

The events leading to the second round up of Acadians is examined closely by James Martell in his paper on Planter settlements on the Minas Basin. Martell presents a detailed overview of the situation in the province seven years after the original expulsion and the Acadians appear to be a threat. In Kings County alone, for example, there were almost 200 Acadian men who had been retained as a labour force; men who at first had been treated like prisoners of war but later had been allowed to move about freely.

“In Kings County the numbers and attitude of the Acadians must have exceptionally menacing,” Martell writes. “It was reported… that in one of the townships there, 150 settlers had left and others were leaving through fear of the French.” When it was discovered that Acadians in Kings County had been collecting ammunition, the provincial authorities felt justified in ordering the removal of all Acadians remaining in the province.

A province-wide roundup of the Acadians began in the summer of 1762. “In the middle of August… transports loaded with exiled Acadians again left the shores of Nova Scotia,” Martell writes. “This time the destination was Boston. By the end of the month five vessels filled with Acadian prisoners were lying in that continental harbour.”

The second round up of Acadians probably should be called the expulsion that failed. To put it simply, the authorities in Boston refused to accept the Acadians. “The second expulsion of the Acadians was a dismal failure,” Martell writes. “Before a month had passed, they were back in Halifax.”

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