Acadian expulsion ends in complete failure

Why here? 

Of all the places returning Acadians could have chosen to begin again, why Memramcook? Like most contemporary travellers, I stood on a historically significant spot and wondered why this community, built on either side of the Memramcook River, became significant. It certainly wasn’t obvious to someone driving in from Moncton on the new Trans-Canada Highway.

What I should have done — and who knows, maybe I’ll try it someday — was pack up my family, Elaine’s family and several others too and starting at, say, Louisiana, make my way up the American Atlantic coast until I got near the original Acadie and head inland far enough not to be noticed and start looking for terrain I know how to work, like marshes that could be turned into farms using digues. Looked at from this perspective, Memramcook looks like an obvious choice to begin to recreate Acadie. In fact, it’s so obvious, one wonders how they got away with it and why the British weren’t waiting for them.

Returnees weren’t crows and they weren’t flying

A quick look at the map reminds one of how close to the ocean Memramcook is, a mere 15 km as the crow flies. But the returnees weren’t crows and they weren’t flying. They may have been sailing or rowing up, or trudging alongside the Memramcook River, a meandering, tidal river that eventually empties into Chignecto Bay, the bay that borders the original Acadie.

They did get away with it, though. The first post-deportation Acadian village, Village des LePlatte, dates from 1766, 11 years after the deportation began. I say began, because it was a huge undertaking and took several years, starting in 1755 and ending roughly around 1763. Given that the first new village dates from 1766, one can see that if the goal was to completely expel the Acadians, then it had failed almost before it was even completed.

sign for Village des Leplatte

A vibrant culture hundreds of thousands strong

Of course, that’s my view, the view of someone sitting comfortably in a Canadian home in 2009 basking in the safety of a modern democracy where governments apologize (however, obliquely) for past wrongheadedness like the deportation. Still, it’s hard not to think that Acadie has succeeded after all.  The original Acadians were a people, not a country, distinct from their motherland and from the conquerors. They still are distinct. And they’re hundreds of thousands strong now.

rustic well with bucket on a lever