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Acadia

Acadia (əkāˈdēə) [key], Fr. Acadie, region and former French colony, E Canada, encompassing modern Nova Scotia but also New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and coastal areas of E Maine. After an abortive 1604 settlement of St. Croix (Dochet) Island, in the Saint Croix River, the chief town, Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal, N.S.), was founded by the sieur de Monts in 1605. Acadia was soon involved in the imperial struggle that would end in America with the French and Indian Wars. Destroyed by English colonists under Samuel Argall in 1613, Port Royal was rebuilt, and the colony prospered with farmers on dike-protected fields, fishermen on the shore, and fur traders in the forests. Later, attacks on Port Royal were resumed, and its capture by the British (New Englanders) in 1710 was formalized in the Peace of Utrecht (1713). The British distrusted the Acadians, who, wishing to remain neutral, generally refused to swear allegiance to Great Britain. In 1755 most inhabitants were deported to British colonies along the Atlantic coast south to Georgia; some were sent to the West Indies and Europe. A second expulsion took place in 1758. Many Acadians fled into the interior of what is now New Brunswick, where today they form close to 40% of the population. Others returned later from exile, some establishing themselves on the west ("French") coast of Nova Scotia. Today in Canada, an Acadian (French Acadien ) is a French-speaking inhabitant of the Maritime Provinces; the Acadian community is largely integrated into the national culture, and New Brunswick is the most truly bilingual of the Canadian provinces. Of the exiles who did not return the most celebrated are those who settled in "Acadiana" or "Cajun Country," around St. Martinville in S Louisiana, where the Cajuns maintain a distinctive culture. The sufferings of the 1750s expulsion from Acadia are pictured in Longfellow's Evangeline.

See A. H. Clark, Acadia: The Geography of Early Nova Scotia to 1760 (1968); J. M. Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland (2005).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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