The Acadians “joie de vivre” endured across four centuries.
With a history defined by tragedy, courage and perseverance, Acadians have preserved their traditions and culture for over four centuries.
Where is ‘Acadie’? As a French colony it ceased to exist in 1713, but its spirit lives on and thrives in Nova Scotia’s Acadian French population.
Acadians are descended from the French colonists, the first European settlers in Nova Scotia. Second only to the Mi’kmaq, they have the deepest roots of any founding culture in the province, and had a very close relationship with them.
The colony they built from their base in Port-Royal was repeatedly handed back and forth between England and France during war time. The Acadians were peace keepers, remaining neutral, and their numbers flourished to an estimated 13,000.
Outnumbered by Roman Catholic Acadians, the British in Nova Scotia began deporting Acadians in 1755. More than 6000 men, women and children were carried away in British vessels. They fled to PEI, Cape Breton and deep into the woods of Nova Scotia, and even still; 3000 more were deported in 1758.
After the war ended in 1763, some Acadian families slowly returned and joined their families that had escaped deportation. Their homes had been burnt and their farmlands given away, so they were forced to start over in more isolated, less hospitable areas of the province.
Some of the family names include: Family names such as d’Entremont, Amirault, Muise, LeBlanc, d’Eon, Theriault, Samson. Most Acadian communities in Nova Scotia are located close to the ocean, and although the early Acadians were farmers on the marshlands of the Bay of Fundy, their descendants today live off the sea, with lobster-fishing being the main industry.
- The Acadian and francophone community in Nova Scotia includes 34,585 people with French as a mother tongue (3.8% of the population), according to 2011 Census Data from Statistics Canada.
- Acadians make up the majority of the population in the municipalities of Clare and Argyle.
- About 10% of the population or 94,310 Nova Scotians can speak French.