THE ACADIAN HOMES OF FALMOUTH (November 18/08)

In past columns (column 1, column 2) I’ve mentioned various houses that may have had “Acadian connections,” that is, these houses or sections of them may have existed around the time of the expulsion in 1755.

Some of us are skeptical that any house built here in the middle of the 18th century would be sturdy enough to remain standing today. However, in Wolfville there’s the so-called Kent Lodge, said to have been built a few years after the expulsion of the Acadians. According to B. C. Silver and Dr. Watson Kirkconnell in the book, Wolfville’s Historic Homes (published 1967) here is some doubt about when the house was actually built; a plaque on the old home dates it from 1761.

Apparently the Planters began constructing permanent homes a few years after their arrival. For a time, some Planters occupied houses left standing after the Acadians were removed. While all of the Acadian homes in what is now Kings County were destroyed during the expulsion period, some were left standing in what is now West Hants and in Falmouth in particular.

Historian tells us that for over a year, many of the Planters lived in tents. It’s a matter of record, however, that some Acadian homes were left standing in West Hants and the settlers arriving after the expulsion took full advantage of them. “Although practically all the Acadian houses and buildings had been destroyed at Horton and Cornwallis during the time of the expulsion,” writes James Martell in a thesis on pre-loyalist settlement in Kings and Hants County, “many of them remained standing in Pisiquid, in West Falmouth and Fort Edward districts.”

Martell goes onto say that the West Falmouth Settlers took “full advantage of their opportunities” and an “equable division” of the remaining Acadian houses was made. Apparently there was what today we call a lottery or draw to determine who among the settlers would occupy the houses and use the outbuildings of the Acadians.

Martell quotes Henry Yould Hind who wrote about the division of land in his history of Windsor and its old burial ground (published 1899). I went directly to Hind’s book to see what he had to say. On June 23, 1760, at a West Falmouth township meeting, the settlers “voted that the buildings and all the boards and timber that is now in Falmouth …. shall be numbered and prized as equally as possible.” A draw was held seven days later and there were “28 awards.”

Martell makes two interesting comments regarding this division of Acadian property. “One of those strange twists of fortune is apparent in this apportionment of what remained of Acadian civilization at Falmouth, while the former owners looked on from across the river Pisiquid – military prisoners of the garrison at Fort Edward.”

A few years later, Martell says, the Falmouth settlers conveniently forgot they had divided up Acadian property. In a joint petition with other townships (asking for assistance apparently) the good settlers of Falmouth declared that on their arrival, they found “all dykes destroyed and fences and houses universally demolished.” Their petition can be found in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia.

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