In 1682 Pierre Terriot and his wife settled along the Saint Antoine (Cornwallis) River and built what was probably the first house in New Minas. Terriot was at the forefront of a wave of Acadians from Port Royal who would settle in what became the village of Saint Antoine and today is the village of New Minas.
This little-known fact about the Acadian link with New Minas was revealed in a presentation recently before the village commission. The presentation was made by members of the Acadian Heritage Sites Committee which was formed to have Acadian sites in the village identified and protected. Co-chairs Maynard Stevens and Ken Belfountain, along with Glenda Bishop, gave an extensive overview of New Minas’ Acadian roots, along with a detailed report on historical sources confirming that the village was an Acadian settlement.
Leading off the presentation, Maynard Stevens noted that after Pierre Terriot established a farm on the banks of the Cornwallis, “the settlement… grew larger, extended to both sides of the river, and took in what is present day New Minas.” Stevens said that source material “suggests the village was of significant size compared to Grand Pre and included a church, a mill as well as many farms.”
Stevens pointed out a census taken by the French indicate that a “sizeable population” lived in New Minas before the expulsion. “Remnants of (Acadian) cellars, a mill and graveyard” exist within the boundaries of New Minas, Stevens said, these sites being confirmed by various archaeological studies. The mill site is located immediately behind the elementary school on property owned by the school board. Acadian homesteads, the cellar depressions still visible today, are also on school board property.
The heritage committee would like to see Acadian sites in the village identified and where possible, protected under the special places act or similar legislation. To achieve these goals, Stevens said, the first step is to have Acadian sites on land owned by the village or municipality recognised as heritage sites.
“The one site that falls in this category,” Stevens said, “is the Acadian graveyard that is located beside the railroad tracks at the foot of Cornwallis Avenue. It is marked by a rise that is covered by a growth of small trees.
“It is our hope,” Stevens said in effect, “that the village commission will start the process whereby the cemetery is designated as a historic site and protected under municipal bylaws.”
I’m pleased to report that there was a positive response to the committee’s presentation and there will be action on the request that the cemetery be recognised and protected. Hopefully, by the time the Acadian World Congress meets here, the cemetery site will be marked by a plaque. The committee also hopes to have other Acadian sites in the village identified in the future.