La Frontière

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The Archives acadiennes/Acadian Archives will sponsor a screening of La Frontière, a documentary film on the border regions of Maine, at the University of Maine at Fort Kent on Friday, November 17th at 7 p.m. in Nadeau Hall conference room. The event is free and open to the public.

La Frontière is a documentary film portraying slices of life in northern Maine’s borderlands. This beautifully shot 35-minute film takes viewers on an intimate tour of the culture of the 611-mile border between Maine and Canada. The film is a must-see for cinema connoisseurs and anyone hoping to see northern Maine through a different lens. The film was screened at last year’s Camden International Film Festival in Midcoast Maine.

La Frontière was produced by Katy Haas and Megan Ruffe. A graduate of Smith College, Haas attended the Burren College of Art and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She was a co-producer with Florentine Films, a creation of Ken Burns, on Benjamin Franklin (2022), as well as an associate producer on the series Country Music (2019) and an apprentice editor on The Dust Bowl (2012). Ruffe studied film and geography at Penn State University. She, too, has worked on a number of Florentine Films series and, with a small team, is developing UNUM, a new digital project that uses Florentine’s library to bring historical context to current events. La Frontière also features cinematography by Lindsay Taylor Jackson and Jared Ames.

“We’re very grateful for the filmmakers’ willingness to share their work with our community,” said Patrick Lacroix, director of the Acadian Archives. “Katy and Megan offer us new ways of seeing and understanding our borderland region.”

A question-and-answer session with the producers will follow the screening. Snacks will be available for attendees.

For more information, contact Patrick Lacroix at the Acadian Archives at (207) 834-7536.

Route 1 Book Talk

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photo of author Susan M. Bregman
Author Susan M. Bregman

The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at the University of Maine at Fort Kent will host a book talk on Along Route 1: Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts by accomplished writer Susan M. Bregman on Thursday, July 13th at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“If any road can match the imagery and significance of Route 66, it’s unquestionably Route 1,” says Patrick Lacroix, director of the Acadian Archives. “Bregman’s in-depth research and the photos she collected are sure to captivate those of us living near Route 1. Her talk will help us see through a century of change in northern Maine and beyond.”

Along Route 1 chronicles the long, rich history of one of America’s most iconic thoroughfares. Bregman’s focus on Route 1’s northernmost span reveals a fascinating mix of famed motels, eateries, amusement parks, and drive-in theaters; it also tells the story of long-distance travel and the possibilities opened by the automobile and urbanization.

Route 1 has mirrored social and economic change across the region, and the book reflects both loss and survival. Along Route 1 includes a large number of photographs that were contributed by historical societies, museums, libraries, universities, and private collections. With Fort Kent being home to Route 1’s “First Mile,” the St. John Valley is well-represented in the book. Along Route 1: Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts is currently available from South Carolina-based Arcadia Publishing.

Writer and photographer Susan Mara Bregman is the author of Arcadia Publishing’s New England Neon and New England Candlepin Bowling. A native New Yorker, she moved to Boston after graduating from college and never left. The author will discuss her research and her findings and take questions.

For more information, please contact Acadian Archives Director Patrick Lacroix at (207) 834-7536.

The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes is the premier center for the study of Acadian history in New England and serves as one of the many cultural hubs in the St. John Valley.

Lulu Pelletier Exhibit 2023

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That Loving Gaze, by Lulu Pelletier, acrylic on canvas, 2021, depicts the face of a gray-striped house cat gazing upwards
That Loving Gaze, by Lulu Pelletier, acrylic on canvas, 2021

The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at the University of Maine at Fort Kent will host an art exhibit titled “A Bit of This and a Bit of That” through the end of August. The exhibit, featuring paintings of an assortment of subjects, animals, people, and outdoor vistas, showcases the work of locally renowned artist Lulu Pelletier. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Pelletier is a native of Fort Kent. Having painted from an early age, Pelletier explains, “I was encouraged by friends and family to continue learning, and as a result, I still to this day love to learn and apply new techniques from other artists.”

Noted Canadian artist Claude Picard was among her teachers. Pelletier earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. In 2008, UMFK honored her with the Gretchen Prize for exceptional industry and imagination in the Fine Arts.

Pelletier is well-known for her realistic portraits, but her portfolio includes other subjects, including scenics and animals. She works on commission and also teaches others how to find their artistry in painting. Her illustrations have appeared in a number of books.

“We’re immensely thrilled to promote and recognize local talent,” said Patrick Lacroix, director of the Acadian Archives. “Lulu’s work is expressive and joyful and always worth rediscovering.”

The Acadian Archives will host an opening reception to mark the launch of Lulu Pelletier’s exhibit, “A Bit of This and a Bit of That,” on Thursday, May 25th, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The exhibit will then be open to the public during the Archives’ regular business hours.

For more information, please contact Acadian Archives Director Patrick Lacroix at (207) 834-7536.

The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes is the premier center for the study of Acadian history in New England and serves as one of the many cultural hubs in the St. John Valley.

Acadian History Lectures

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Dr. Patrick Lacroix, Director of the Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, will host a five-week lecture series titled Acadian History and Culture starting on February 23, 2023, through March 30, 2023. (except for March 16th). All lectures during the series will be via Zoom on Thursdays at 6:00 p.m.

Among the scholar speakers are a Nova Scotia-based archeologist who will share findings from work in the Grand-Pré area, a renowned historian who’s authored a book on the deportation, and a researcher who will share connections between the U.S. War of Independence and the Maritime borderlands.

“We’re immensely pleased to showcase various facets of Acadian culture and history,” says Patrick Lacroix, the director of the Acadian Archives. “With such renowned scholars as Jonathan Fowler and Christopher Hodson and other knowledgeable speakers, our audience will have an incomparable learning experience.”

The cost for the complete lecture series is $25.00 per person. You may register online at

The deadline for registration is Tuesday, February 21st.

For more information, contact the UMFK Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at (207) 824-7536 or

Travel Restrictions Forum

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The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at University of Maine at Fort Kent will host a community forum on the impact of the pandemic and international travel restrictions in the St. John Valley on Saturday, December 3rd, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in Nadeau Hall conference room.

The event is free and open to the public.

The event came about from oral interviews conducted by the Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes during this past summer. The project, titled “Voices of the Borderland: The Social Impact of International Travel Restrictions in Northern Maine,” captured local residents’ challenging experience with international travel from 2020 to 2022. The testimonies are now being transcribed and will form a new permanent collection at the Archives.

During the community forum, Acadian Archives’ staff will share their findings. You will also hear from Lisa Lavoie, Ph.D. candidate at the University of the Cumberlands and UMFK assistant professor of behavioral science, who wrote her master’s thesis on borderland communities, and Amber Rankine, executive director of the Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce. The forum will provide the audience with the opportunity to share their experience of border restrictions, family hardships, economic effects, challenges at ports of entry, and testing requirements.

“We gathered oral testimonies about the pandemic and its consequences while they were fresh in people’s minds,” states Dr. Patrick Lacroix, director of the Acadian Archives. “This event will help us think about our region’s past, present, and future relationships with the international border.”

Light refreshments will be offered.

This event is generously supported by the Maine Humanities Council.

For more information, please contact Acadian Archives Director Patrick Lacroix at (207) 834-7535.

The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes is the premier center for the study of Acadian history in New England and serves as one of the many cultural hubs in the St. John Valley.

Dana Murch Book Talk

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Dana Murch, author of The Ancestors and Descendants of Daniel F. Thibodeau and Rebecca Jandreau
Author Dana Murch at Port-Royal National Historic Site

The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at the University of Maine at Fort Kent will host a book talk by Dana Murch, author of The Ancestors and Descendants of Daniel F. Thibodeau and Rebecca Jandreau at the Acadian Archives, on Thursday, November 10th from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

In the presentation, titled “The French Connection,” Murch will discuss the life and times of some of the Acadians and Québécois in his tree and the family connections of his maternal grandparents, St. Francis natives Daniel Frédéric Thibodeau and Rebecca Jandreau.

Written in the vein of Leo Cyr’s classic Madawaskan Heritage, the book is a major addition to the genealogy of the Thibodeau and Jandreau families, which also includes sketches of 160 related families from Albert to Vallière.  Most significant among these sketches are those of the Dubé, Ouellette, Pelletier, Michaud, Nadeau, Paradis, and Miville dit Deschênes families, followed by Ayotte, Cloutier, Gagnon, Jalbert, and Saucier.

The hardcover book includes copies of vital records, synopses of U.S. and Canadian census records, family photos, and photos of gravestones, family memorials, and churches. It also features a selected history of Maine and New France (including Acadia) from 1604 to 1850 and a chronology of the arrival of all immigrant ancestors.

“We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to welcome Dana Murch to campus,” explains Patrick Lacroix, director of the Acadian Archives. “It’s great news for experienced genealogists but also beginners who stand to learn about their roots and make fruitful connections.”

A Caribou native, Dana Murch is a retired state environmental regulator and a 13th-generation “Maine-ah.” He is a descendant of many early settlers of both Acadia and Quebec, as well as a multiple Mayflower descendant. He is now working on the definitive genealogy and history of the entire Murch family of Maine, whose roots have been traced back to 17th-century Devonshire, England. He currently resides in Belfast with his wife, Meredith Jones.

Copies of Murch’s book will be available for purchase at the book talk.

For more information, please contact Acadian Archives Director Patrick Lacroix at (207) 834-7536.

The Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes is the premier center for the study of Acadian history in New England and serves as one of the many cultural hubs in the St. John Valley.

Poetry Express at UMFK

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headshot of poet Valerie Lawson
Poet Valerie Lawson will lead Poetry Express events at UMFK on September 21 & 22.

The University of Maine at Fort Kent’s Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes will host Poetry Express, a collaborative poetry performance program, Wednesday, September 21st, and Thursday, September 22nd, on the University campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The theme surrounding the Poetry Express event will encompass Acadian Heritage.

On September 21st, the poetry workshop will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Acadian Archives. Program participants select Maine poems with support from Maine State Library and learn to perform those poems in a workshop taught by guest Poet Valerie Lawson.

Valerie Lawson’s work has been published in Café Review, About Place Journal, The Catch, Maine Farms, and others. Most recently, Lawson participated in the Writing the Land project, connecting protected spaces with poets. She wrote about Reversing Falls in Pembroke, conserved by the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, and with the help of the Maine Arts Commission, created a video of one of the poems. You may view the video at

At the Archives, on September 22nd, the poetry workshop will continue with a rehearsal of participants’ poetry presentations to be held from 3 to 4 p.m.

The Poetry Express event will conclude with a community poetry reading and conversation event for the public to come together and celebrate Maine poetry will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the UMFK Bengal Lair.

If you would like to participate in the Poetry Express, please contact Assistant Professor of Business Michael Curran at (412) 200-0978.

Poetry Express is a collaborative poetry performance program in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council and the Maine State Library to bring poetry to UMFK.

The Acadian Landing Monument at 100

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There are few pages in American history, if any indeed, that surpass in age, interest, or pathos, those which record the trials and triumphs of that heroic race now commonly known as the Acadians.

Bangor Daily News, July 7, 1922

On July 3, 1922, the Catholics of St. David, Maine, and surrounding communities gathered for an imposing and unprecedented ceremony on the banks of the St. John River. After a church service and addresses from religious dignitaries, Bishop Louis S. Walsh of Portland led a procession to a giant cross that awaited his blessing. The cross marked the location where, in 1785, Acadians had—according to local tradition—begun to form new communities after thirty years of tragedy and uncertainty. It seemed the Acadians were finally having their day in the sun.

Catholic and French

Walsh, an Irish American, may seem an unlikely player in this cultural pageant. Historical works portray him as Maine Franco-Americans’ ultimate bête noire. From 1909 to 1913, he was engaged in a lengthy conflict over the ownership and management of Church property in the diocese. Franco-Americans’ campaign to restore elective parish councils ultimately ended in failure. Walsh even placed a small group of activists under interdict, preventing them from receiving sacraments. The controversy ended with bruised and bitter feelings on both sides.

By the early 1920s, it was clear that Walsh and Franco-Americans needed one another. Tentative partnerships were not merely the result of Franco-Americans’ growing integration and the intervening cooling-off period. The Ku Klux Klan spread across the state and posed a threat to all Catholics; the Irish and French populations would benefit from working together. Walsh and Maine Catholics—including Franco-Americans—also expressed concern about growing federal and state intervention in education and healthcare. They formed a common political front.

The battle with the most enduring consequences occurred over the implementation of English-only education in public schools, a bill passed by the state legislature in 1919. Former legislator Irénée Cyr brought a lengthy petition signed by St. John Valley residents to Augusta—in vain. It remains unclear whether Walsh sincerely supported the French population of the Valley in their defense of their language—or simply disapproved of state overreach. Either way, Maine’s French population now recognized that the biggest threat to their culture came from beyond the Catholic Church.

Faced with recurring waves of xenophobia, it is little wonder that Walsh wished to assert the deep historical roots of the Church in Maine. He did so in commemorative ceremonies in August and in October 1913. The second of these was held at the city hall in Portland and put a Franco-American speaker front and center. Both events marked 300 years since the founding of the first Catholic mission in what would become Maine. The consecration of the Acadian Cross in the Madawaska region nearly a decade later served a similar purpose.

photo of the Acadian Cross located in the Madawaska region
Acadian Cross (Acadian Archives Image Collection)

The rhetoric of that time depicted the original Indigenous inhabitants of the land as a population destined to be civilized or erased. As a result, major ceremonies identified French settlers as the first to occupy the land. In St. David and elsewhere, Walsh presented Catholics as full-fledged participants in the building of the country. People of Acadian and French-Canadian descent gladly showed their “Yankee” neighbors that they had preceded them in many parts of the continent. Precedence seemed to confer legitimacy.

Although the ceremony was led by an Irish-American bishop, this was a day by and for French-heritage people. The event drew L.-N. Dugal, the vicar general of the diocese of Chatham, in New Brunswick, and a pastor from Lewiston. Local French children received the sacrament of confirmation. Father Thomas Albert, author of a recent work of history, delivered a sermon in French.

As the epigraph above shows, in the wake of the event, the Bangor Daily News gave space to the Acadian story. Subscribers learned about the persecution wrought by the English Puritans, whom the author deemed guilty for the “crime” of deportation. References to these wandering people, escaping captivity to finding new, permanent homes, hinted at a providential destiny—if not something entirely Biblical.

This public recognition of the Acadians’ trials and resilience was not an isolated event; other developments offered signs of hope. In eastern Canada, the late-nineteenth-century Acadian Renaissance had led to interprovincial conventions and inspired elites to adopt new symbols. A month after the St. David ceremony, the first Acadian bishop, Edouard LeBlanc, blessed the cornerstone of what would become the iconic church at Grand-Pré, in Nova Scotia. Acadians had long occupied positions of political influence; their visibility as a people would grow later in the decade with the silent movie Evangeline. Cultural challenges would still abound, but recognition of their unique identity and their place in Maine history was finally at hand.

History and Commemoration

The St. David ceremony and the subsequent newspaper report told an Acadian story. To this day, so does the monument. Closer scrutiny of the people it honors offers a more complicated picture, however, and reminds us of the monument’s double meaning.

A plaque (much more recent than the cross) bears the names of the 35 “pioneers” of 1785. With the exception of Pierre Duperré, all are couples that had their own households. Not appearing on the plaque are these people’s children, many of whom would marry and intermarry in Saint-Basile after the establishment of the parish in 1792. Counting these children, we’re nearing some 100 individuals who might be considered original French-heritage settlers in our region.

French heritage may in fact be the better term for them, for by no means were they all Acadians. Brothers Firmin and Pierre Cyr married sisters Marie Josephte and Madeleine Ayotte. The Ayottes’ parents also appear on the monument; their whole family was French-Canadian. Other names originate from the St. Lawrence River valley and therefore are not Acadian: Guerrette dit Dumont, Bélanger, Lefebvre, Fournier, Potvin, and Consigny dit Sansfaçon. Nearly all of these families resided in the Kamouraska area when they were joined by Acadian refugees in the 1750s and 1760s. The meeting of Cyrs, Daigles, and Thibodeaus, and French-Canadian families anticipated the eventual cultural fusion of these two peoples in the Upper St. John Valley.

photo of ceremony at the Acadian Cross located in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, in 1924
Ceremony near Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia, in 1924 (Fonds Arsène Hébert, P62,S1,D30, BAnQ)

Acadians married French Canadians in Kamouraska but few stayed permanently. Some of these “mixed” households were enumerated on the St. John River near present-day Fredericton in the early 1780s. The influx of Loyalists and the challenge of securing land titles after 1783 led these families to seek a more stable future elsewhere. The Upper St. John River was a natural option as the midway point between the St. Lawrence and Fredericton; this also happened to be a river route that many had traveled and that promised trade between Quebec City and the eastern colonies. Officials in Quebec and New Brunswick were planning a military road connecting the two colonies and a settlement on the Upper St. John River would help guard that road.

We know the events of the summer of 1785 only through context, limited documentation produced by outside officials, and oral traditions. At the very least, we should not imagine a large convoy of families moving upriver from Fredericton with all of their personal belongings. The work of many summers was needed to turn forests into productive land. Settlers would spend the first season chopping trees. They would plant turnips and potatoes between the stumps, which might in time be burnt or pulled out once oxen and horses were available. Only then could fields be sown and plowed as they were elsewhere—and thus feed growing families.

In fact, whole families likely would not have come without some assurance that they held legal title to these lands, which they received in 1785. Beyond the small Indigenous village near Petit-Sault, a traveler passing through the region in September 1785 might have spied no more than a small riverside camp composed entirely of men—maybe in the shadow of a cross, and maybe not. The development of stable, enduring agricultural communities would take years and would be the joint work of Acadians and French Canadians.

By the time Bishop Walsh stepped down from the train with his clerical entourage, those communities’ survival was no longer in doubt. In fact, we could argue that the 1922 ceremony marked an important turning point in the region’s history. It looked back to the sacrifices of the original pioneers while responding to new challenges surrounding language and culture. The cross in St. David calls us to remember the men and women whose names appear on the base of the monument; it should also remind us of the struggles of the 1920s, when the cross was planted, many of which are still with us today.

The Madawaska Historical Society will recognize the centennial of the Acadian Cross during its annual luncheon on June 26.


Older, antiquarian works like Charles W. Collins’s The Acadians of Madawaska, Maine (1902) and Thomas Albert’s Histoire du Madawaska (1920) were standards for much of the twentieth century. Historians have since expanded our understanding of the region and its development. Sources for this essay include:

  • Andrew, Sheila, “Mercure, Louis,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. 5 (1983), online: (accessed May 31, 2022).
  • “La bénédiction de l’église de Grand-Pré,” Le Droit [Ottawa], August 16, 1922, 1.
  • “Commemorating the Coming of the Acadians,” Bangor Daily News, July 7, 1922, 2.
  • Craig, Béatrice, “Immigrants in a Frontier Community, Madawaska 1785-1850,” Revue de la Société historique du Madawaska (April 2008).
  • Craig, Béatrice, Maxime Dagenais, Lisa Ornstein, and Guy Dubay, The Land in Between: The Upper St. John Valley, Prehistory to World War I (Gardiner: Tilbury House, 2009).
  • “L’église-souvenir de Grand Pré,” La Tribune [Sherbrooke], February 18, 1922, 10.
  • Lacroix, Patrick, “À l’assaut de la corporation sole: Autonomie institutionnelle et financière chez les Franco-Américains du Maine, 1900-1917,” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, vol. 72, no. 1 (summer 2018), 31-51.
  • Lacroix, Patrick, “Hauntingly Silent: Some Questions Concerning Maine’s English Education Bill,” Le Forum, vol. 43, no. 1 (spring 2021), 24-27.
  • Richard, Mark Paul, Not a Catholic Nation: The Ku Klux Klan Confronts New England in the 1920s (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015).
  • “Le Tri-Centenaire Catholique,” La Justice [Biddeford], October 16, 1913, 2.

The Acadian Cross’s National Historic Register form appears online. Reliable information about the original French-heritage families is accessible at no cost on WikiTree. The Studholm Report of 1783 is also an essential source.

The Acadian Archives are home to a vast array of resources on the St. John Valley’s Acadian and French-Canadian settlers. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please reach us at or by phone at 207-834-7535.

New Books in Our Collection

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what is a picture of a book worth? The Acadian Archives has a rich collection of books and periodicals in addition to our archival and genealogical materials. These items span all age levels and a variety of topics, from local history to educational resources to childhood classics. If a title catches your eye, stop by the Archives, or reach out to us via email or phone.

Book covers of L’Acadie de l’Ile-due-Prince-Edouard: 300 ans d’histoire, Le Nouveau-Brunswick: Je decouvre ma region et ma province, Illustrated History of the Acadians of Prince Edward Island (French and English versions), and L’Acadie de A a Z. See caption for more details.

Top Left to Right:

  • L’Acadie de l’Ile-due-Prince-Edouard: 300 ans d’histoire (Acadia of Prince Edward Island: 300 Years of History) by Georges Arsenault and Linda Lowther [French text]
  • Le Nouveau-Brunswick: Je decouvre ma region et ma province (New Brunswick: I Discover My Region and My Province) by Sylvie Ladouceur [French text]

Bottom Left to Right:

  • Illustrated History of the Acadians of Prince Edward Island by Georges Arsenault, English version translated by Sally Ross [French and English versions]
  • L’Acadie de A à Z (Acadia A to Z) by Sylvain Riviere and Raynald Basque [French text, two copies available]

Book covers of Mother Goose in French, Je suis bilingue!, The Mighty Glooscap transforms animal and landscape, Pierre Dugua de Mons: Naissance de la Nouvelle-France, and Alec découvre L'Acadie. See caption for more details.

Top Left to Right:

  • Mother Goose in French translated by Hugh Latham, pictures by Barbara Cooney [French text]
  • Je suis bilingue! (I’m Bilingual!) by A. Armstrong [French text]

Bottom Left to Right:

  • The Mighty Glooscap Transforms Animal and Landscape translated by Roy, Sock, Mitcham; illustrated by Roy [French, Kisi-Mi’kmaw, English text]
  • Pierre Dugua de Mons: Naissance de la Nouvelle-France (Pierre Dugua de Mons: Birth of New France) by Marie Claude Bouchet [French text]

Right Center:

  • Alec découvre L’Acadie (Alec Discovers Acadia) by Maryse Lanteigne [French text]

Book cover of Journals of the First Legislature of the State of Maine, 1820. See caption for more details.

Journals of the First Legislature of the State of Maine, 1820 Published by the Maine State Legislature in cooperation with the Maine State Archives in the Bicentennial Year of Statehood 2020 [English text]

Book covers of Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Cultural Museum, Lille, Maine: History of the Parish, 1869-1977 and C’est La Vie, C’est Ma Vie. See caption for more details.

Left to Right:

  • Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Cultural Museum, Lille, Maine: History of the Parish, 1869-1977by Don Cyr, Guy Dubay, and Brother Leon J. Cyr
  • C’est La Vie, C’est Ma Vie (It’s Life, It’s My Life) by Rina Belanger [primarily English text with some French]

Book covers of Aspects de la vie quotidienne en Acadie de 1900 à 1950, Alliances et traités avec les peuples autochtones du Quebec, Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide, and La liste de Winslow expliquée. See caption for more details.

Top Left to Right:

  • Aspects de la vie quotidienne en Acadie de 1900 à 1950 (Aspects of Daily Life in Acadia from 1900 to 1950) by Philippe Basque [French text]
  • Alliances et traités avec les peuples autochtones du Quebec (Alliances and Treaties with the Indigenous Peoples of Quebec) by Camil Girard and Carl Brisson [French text]

Bottom Left to Right:

  • Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide by Donald A. Ritchie [English text]
  • La liste de Winslow expliquée (Winslow’s List Explained) by Paul Delaney, translated by Serge Patrice Thibodeau [French text]

Text and Images: Madeline Soucie, Archivist/Cataloging Librarian

The Acadian Deportation: Key Documents

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Beginning in 1755, British colonial leaders forcibly removed thousands of Acadians from their homes in what are today the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Many Acadians were dispersed in Britain’s North American colonies; others were imprisoned in Halifax or sent to Europe. Yet more families escaped and found refuge in the St. Lawrence River valley. The deportation created a cycle of migrations that would last into the 1780s. Through this process, a people that had numbered 14,000—concentrated in the Bay of Fundy region and wishing to stay aloof of imperial rivalries—melted into small diasporic communities, isolated from one another, that spanned the length and breadth of the Atlantic Ocean.

To accompany the springtime lecture series on Acadian history, the Archives team is pleased to provide excerpts of documents that help trace how and why the Deportation occurred. This very small sample appears in Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia: Papers Relating to the Acadian French 1714-1755 and Papers Relating to the Forcible Removal of the Acadian French from Nova Scotia, 1755-1768, edited by Thomas B. Akins (Halifax: Charles Annand, 1869). These works are available on the Nova Scotia Archives’ Acadian Heartland: Records of the Deportation and Le Grand Dérangement, 1714-1768.

The first two documents below present the dilemmas facing both the Acadians and their new British rulers. Although entitled to move to the French colony of Ile Royale (Cape Breton), Acadians wished to do so only upon finding purchasers for their land and their goods; colonial authorities, meanwhile, worried about the consequences of their departure. After many colonists had signed a conditional oath of loyalty in the 1720s, British leaders resorted to a system of deputies and allowed the expansion of Acadian settlements. The later documents reflect the challenge of remaining neutral between French demands for aid and British expectations of unconditional loyalty.

We have maintained as much as possible the original spelling. Please note that the documents contain terms that are no longer in use and that we would today find offensive.

Document Excerpts

Colonel Samuel Vetch to England’s Lords of Trade, November 24, 1714

As to the 4th [query,] what may be the consequence of the French [Acadians] moving from Nova Scotia to Cape Bretton; They are evidently these, First their leaving that country intirely destitute of inhabitants: There being none but French, and Indians (excepting the Garrison) settled in those parts; and as they have intermarried, with the Indians, by which and their being of one Religion, they have a mighty influence upon them. So it is not to be doubted, but they will carry along with them to Cape Bretton both the Indians and their trade, Which is very considerable. And as the accession of such a number of Inhabitants to Cape Bretton, will make it at once a very populous Colony; (in which the strength of all the Country’s consists) So it is to be considered, that one hundred of the French, who were born upon that continent, and are perfectly known in the woods; can march upon snow shoes; and understand the use of Birch Canoes are of more value and service than five times their number of raw men, newly come from Europe. So their skill in the Fishery, as well as the cultivating of the soil, must inevitably make that Island [Cape Breton], by such an accession of people, and French, at once the most powerful colony, the French have in America. And of the greatest danger and damage to all the British Colon[ie]s as well as the universal trade of Great Britain . . .

As to the next question, which relates to the time of the French’s removing from Nova Scotia, with their effects: I am informed, several of them, who have no very great substance, are already removed thither, this summer; and that the rest design to do so next summer, as soon as their harvest is over, and grain got in . . . The consequences of which are evidently these: First, It will Intirely strip that Colony, of the above cattle of all sorts, and reduce it to its primitive state; To replenish which at the same rate (it now is from New England the nearest Colony to it, which is one hundred and ten leagues) at a moderate computation of freight, only for the transportation of such a number of Black Cattle, and a proportionable number of Sheep and Hoggs, will cost above Forty thousand pounds; besides the long time it will require to stock that country . . .

Letter of the Acadians to the Governor, May 1720

[I]nasmuch as you demand from us an oath which is so much the more burdensome as we should expose both ourselves and our families to the fury of the savages, who threaten us every day and watch all our proceedings in order to assure themselves that we are not violating the oath taken in presence of General Nicholson and two officers from Isle Royale. This oath is known to the courts of England and France, and it appears to us very difficult to relieve ourselves from the conditions it imposes. And if we should happen not to keep our promise to our invincible monarch, we would have nothing to expect but punishment from the threatening hand of the savages.

Nevertheless Sir we promise you that we shall be equally as faithful as we have hitherto been and that we shall not commit any act of hostility against any right of his Britannic Majesty, so long as we shall continue to remain within the limits of his dominions. You reproach us Sir in the proclamation with having remained on our property more than the year stipulated in the articles of peace. We have the honor to reply that it was impossible for us to do otherwise for the following reason, that although permission to sell our real estate was granted to us, yet we have not been able to do so not having yet found a purchaser; the above privilege therefore has been useless to us.

Lt. Gov. Lawrence Armstrong to the Lords of Trade, October 5, 1731

[The Acadians] are a very ungovernable people and growing very numerous, and the method of treating with them upon any subject, is by their deputies . . . they in time may be perhaps brought through their own free and voluntary acts to pay a greater obedience to the government, and contribute to its support [through taxation], and as civil magistrates are much wanted, I entreat Your Lordships [for] directions for appointing at least some justices of the peace, and other inferior officers amongst them . . .

I have signified to Your Lordships, that there [are] several people who have petitioned for grants; some of them are for small plots, in and adjacent to this town . . . but especially by several young people who have settled themselves, some years ago, at a place called Chippody in the Bay, not far from Chickenectua [Chignecto], where, if upon the surveyors’ report there is no woods proper for masting [for the English navy], I presume grants may be made out for the same, without being interpreted a breach of any article of the instructions.

François Du Pont Duvivier’s Order to the Acadians, August 27, 1744

We captain of infantry, commanding the troops detached for the enterprise of Port Royal . . . declare in the King [of France]’s name, as follows —

The [Acadian] inhabitants of Mines comprising the parishes of Grand Pre, River Canard, Piziquid and Cobequid, are ordered to acknowledge the obedience they owe to the King of France, and in consequence the said parishes are called upon for the following supplies: that of Grand Pre, eight horses and two men to drive them: that of the River Canard, eight horses and two men to drive them: and that of Piziquid, twelve horses, and three men to drive them: as also the powder horns possessed by the said inhabitants, one only being reserved for each house. The whole of the above must be brought to me at ten o’clock on Saturday morning at the french flag which I haye had hoisted, and under which the deputies from each of the said parishes shall be assembled, to pledge fidelity for themselves and all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood who shall not be called away from the labours of the harvest. All those for whom the pledge of fidelity shall be given will be held fully responsible for said pledge, and those who contravene the present order shall be punished as rebellious subjects, and delivered into the hands of the savages as enemies of the state, as we cannot refuse the demand which the savages make for all those who will not submit themselves. We enjoin also upon those inhabitants who have acknowledged their submission to the King of France to acquaint us promptly with the names of all who wish to screen themselves from the said obedience, in order that faithful subjects shall not suffer from any incursions which the said savages may make.

Answer of the Acadians of Mines to Captain Michel de Gannes’ Order, October 10, 1744

We the undersigned humbly representing the inhabitants of Mines, river Canard, Piziquid, and the surrounding rivers, beg that you will be pleased to consider that while there would be no difficulty by virtue of the strong force which you command, in supplying yourself with the quantity of grain and meat that you and M. Du Vivier have ordered, it would be quite impossible for us to furnish the quantity you demand, or even a smaller, since the harvest has, not been so good as we hoped it would be, without placing ourselves in great peril.

We hope gentlemen that you will not plunge both ourselves and our families into a state of total loss; and that this consideration will cause you to withdraw your savages and troops from our districts.

We live under a mild and tranquil government, and we have all good reason to be faithful to it. We hope therefore, that you will have the goodness not to separate us from it; and that you will grant us the favour not to plunge us into utter misery.

Jacques Leblanc
Pierre Leblanc
François Leblanc
Renne [  X  ] Grange Senr.
Claude Leblanc
Jacques Terriot
Antoine Landry
Pierre Richard Senr.
Joseph [  X  ] Granger
R. Leblanc

Response to the Acadian Deputies in the Proceedings of the Colonial Council, Halifax, May 25, 1750

My friends, the moment that you declared your desire to leave and submit yourselves to another government, our determination was to hinder nobody from following what he imagined to be his interest. We know that a forced service is worth nothing and that a subject compelled to be so against his will, is not very far from being all enemy.

We frankly confess, however, that your determination to leave gives us pain.

We are well aware of your industry and your temperance, and that you are not addicted to any vice or debauchery. This province is your country; you or your fathers have cultivated it; naturally you ought yourselves to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Such was the design of the king our master. You know that we have followed his orders. You know that we have done everything to secure to you not only the occupation of your lands, but the ownership of them forever.

We have given you also every possible assurance of the enjoyment of your religion, and the free and public exercise of the Roman Catholic religion . . .

In your petitions, you ask for a general leave. As it is impossible that you could all meet at a certain rendezvous in order to set out all together, with all your families, one must understand by the expression “congé général” a general permission to set out whenever you shall think proper, by land, or by sea, or by whatever conveyances you please. In order to effect this, we should have to notify all the commanders of his majesty’s ships and troops to allow everyone to pass and repass, which would cause the greatest confusion. The province would be open to all sorts of people, to strangers and even to the savages. They have only to dress themselves like you in order to render it difficult to distinguish them from you.

The only manner in which you can withdraw from this province, is to follow the regulations already established. The order is, that all persons wishing to leave the province, shall provide themselves with our passport, to be shown to the vessels or troops they may meet. And we declare that nothing shall prevent us from giving such passports to all those who ask for them, the moment that peace and tranquility are reestablished in the province.

Proceedings of the Colonial Council, Halifax, July 28, 1755

The said [Acadian] deputies were then called in, and [they] peremptorily refused to take the oath of allegiance to his majesty . . . [w]hereupon they were all ordered into confinement.

As it had been before determined to send all the French inhabitants out of the province if they refused to take the oaths, nothing now remained to be considered but what measures should be taken to send them away, and where they should be sent to.

After mature consideration, it was unanimously agreed that, to prevent as much as possible their attempting to return and molest the [English] settlers that may be set down on their lands, it would be most proper to send them to be distributed amongst the several colonies on the continent, and that a sufficient number of vessels should be hired with all possible expedition for that purpose.

Further Reading

The Acadian Archives are home to a wealth of published resources on the Deportation. The following English-language works, which provide an overview of this dramatic chain of events, are a small sample of that collection. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please reach us at or by phone at 207-834-7535.

  • Faragher, John Mack, A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland (2005).
  • Griffiths, N. E. S., ed., The Acadian Deportation: Deliberate Perfidy or Cruel Necessity? (1969).
  • Griffiths, N. E. S., From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People, 1604-1755 (2005).
  • Hodson, Christopher, The Acadian Diaspora: An Eighteenth-Century History (2012).
  • Plank, Geoffrey, An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign Against the People of Acadia (2001).