MORE RARE GLIMPSES OF EARLY KINGS COUNTY (December 17/04)

The Acadians have been described as an innocent, peaceful and ill-used people, most historians agreeing that their expulsion was cruel and unnecessary. If you look at early accounts of the post-expulsion period, however, you get a slightly different view.

In Henry Youle Hind’s book, which I quoted from last week, there are various accounts of clashes between Acadians and the militia. As mentioned before, the book was supposed to be a history of an old burial ground in Windsor, but Hind covers a lot of Kings County history around the expulsion period. If you take his accounts as gospel, then it appears the Acadians were more militant and less peaceful than they’ve been portrayed.

A few quotes from Hind’s work illustrate this point. Hind sympathised with the Acadians, noting that the history of their deportation has “not been yet been fully or truthfully told.” It is a “heartrending story when the details are gathered and fitted together,” Hind writes, and then goes on depict some Acadians as dangerous to the health of the young Planter settlements around Minas Basin.

“The minutes-of-council… states that it had recently been discovered that the ‘said Acadians had collected and concealed in secret places in Kings County, in this province, a considerable quantity of ammunition for small arms.’ This shows the necessity which existed for ample precautions.”

Hind writes that “on account of the (hostile) Indians and Acadians,” it was necessary to build a blockhouse in Piziquid or Windsor to protect settlers in the townships of Horton, Cornwallis, Newport and Falmouth. He later writes that it was difficult to keep enough soldiers in the area to protect the new settlers and “many who arrived soon returned to their homes in New England, Rhode Island and New Jersey in consequence of the fear of the Indians and wandering Acadians.”

Such was this fear that the government found it “indispensably necessary for the safety and security of the settlers to send 130 Acadians from Kings County to Halifax under a guard of the militia of the county.” This was in 1762 when the new colony of Planters was still flexing its wings. Shortly after the forced march to Halifax of the 130 Acadians, martial law was declared in the province, and every healthy male was called up to serve in the militia.

What, you may ask, were 130 Acadians, some of whom apparently were able bodied men, doing in the province long after the expulsion? There’s another tale to be told here, one in which male Acadians were held as prisoners at Fort Edward in Windsor and forced to work as labourers.

Actually Hind writes that 320 Acadians were held at Fort Edward “nearly seven years after the expatriation movement in 1755.” Most were women and children, Hind says. He hints at some hanky panky when it came to “victualing” the Acadians held hostage at Fort Edward; several hundred more Acadians than were actually held at Fort Edward being shown on a food list, for example.

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