Canadian Maritimes - Summer 2015 travel blog

colony map


memorial church

When we left New Brunswick I wrote about the dilemma the French residents faced in the New World, once France was defeated by Great Britain for the last time after a series of seven wars over thirty years. Today we stopped at the UNESCO site that commemorates the deportation of the French residents known as Acadians from the now British territories. This was not ethnic cleansing, but a sad story nonetheless. One would think that these folks could have returned to France, but they were no longer welcome there either. After centuries of owning land, they did not want to return to France to the peasant life their forebears had left. They were used to being landowners and being in charge of their lives.

Ground zero of the deportation took place at Grand Pré, an unusual development because it was build on land reclaimed from the sea by diking, rather than land turned into agricultural property by cutting down trees. The French who came here had learned diking techniques at home in fresh water marshlands, but here they had to contend with the highest tides in the world and salty land as well. After the land was reclaimed, they had to wait for three years for the salt to wash back out to the sea with the rain and snow melt. It was worth their effort, because the land here is especially fertile and they raised more crops than they needed to feed themselves. They traded with the French and British no matter who was in charge and tried to remain neutral. But ultimately the British did not trust them and they spoke French; they had to go. The deportation took place over seven years and many of the stories were heartbreaking with families being broken apart and a gypsy life with nowhere to live. Those that were sent to the Virginia colony were not allowed to enter and had to sail on to France. There was great loss of life and suffering. Some eventually snuck back, but the British burned all their homes at Grand Pré, so they had to start over again in other locations in the Maritimes. American poet Longfellow who has never been here, wrote a long romantic poem called "Evangeline" about the suffering of the Acadians, and a statue of the fictious Evangeline who searched for her long lost love, stand on the grounds here.

This is the first time we have visited a tourist site in a caravan with enough space for all of us to park our rigs. After viewing the dramatic multi media presentation of the deportation in the visitor center and walking the grounds with a docent, we all returned to our rigs for a picnic lunch. It's so nice to be traveling with our homes.

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