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Expulsion Of The Acadians Assignment Help

1 DEPORTATION IS A DEFINING EVENT in Acadian history and has played a profound role in shaping Acadian identity. For Acadians, deportation was a tragedy resulting in the devastation of their society, the dispersal of close-knit families and the destruction of communities. At the same time, the travails of an uprooted pastoral people during deportation and its aftermath, and the extraordinary odyssey experienced by many of them, produced a shared heritage which has helped the Acadian community to re-establish itself. Acadian interpretations of deportation have provided a framework for the development of a rich, distinct, and undiminished sense of identity in the 19th and 20th centuries.

2 The historiography of the deportation that has developed over the last two centuries is extensive and, like the events themselves, shaped by contesting perspectives. Most of what has been written focuses on the deportation of 1755 which resulted in the removal of 6000 to 7000 Acadians from the shores of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia and adjacent areas. These people were sent into exile in British colonies from Massachusetts to Georgia. Longfellow’s poem, Evangeline, played a major role in popularizing this deportation with Acadians and non-Acadians alike, and even imparted something of a romantic quality to the event. The second major deportation which occurred in 1758 in Prince Edward Island, then known to the French as Ile St-Jean, has received much less attention. It is not surprising that the deportation in Nova Scotia has overshadowed the smaller, but equally traumatic and tragic one three years later involving settlers on Ile St.-Jean, as most Maritime Acadians trace their ancestry to the first deportation. As well the deportation from Ile St.-Jean had a precedent, involved fewer people and has been less controversial. To a large degree, however, the two deportations affected one people. A significant portion of Ile St.-Jean’s population in 1758 was comprised of residents who had moved to the Island from Acadia (mainland Nova Scotia, including the isthmus of Chignecto) prior to the deportation of 1755, or shortly thereafter. Organized settlement by the French began on Ile St.-Jean in 1720 and initially most settlers came from France. Over time, however, the population became increasingly Acadian as people moved to the Island from the mainland, particularly from 1750 to 1756.

3 Although a great deal has been published about the deportation of 1755, it attracted little historical attention during the first century after the event. In the second half of the 19th century and early part of the 20th, as historical interest in the subject grew, writers tended to treat the subject as a matter for debate. Just as the deportation itself involved English-speaking Protestants on the one hand and French-speaking Catholics on the other, the writing in this period also reflected defensive and accusatory postures, depending upon the author’s religious or racial background.1 As the 20th century has advanced, the historiography relating to Acadian deportation has become less partisan, though in the case of Ile St.-Jean, not necessarily characterized by greater accuracy. The historiographies of both deportations reflect the early shaping influence of Catholic clerics who wrote history. This began in France in 1766 with Abbé Guillaume-Thomas-François Raynal’s attack on British tyranny for the deportation of Acadians and continued in Canada, with Henri-Raymond Casgrain’s late 19th century works concerning the deportations. The 1758 deportation from Ile St.-Jean received particular attention from clerical writers, as Casgrain’s partisan contribution was reinforced early in the 20th century by John C. MacMillan, and, again, well beyond the mid-point of this century, by J. Wilfred Pineau, both priests from Prince Edward Island.

4 In recent decades most of what has been written on the deportations has emerged as part of larger works on the history of the Acadians.2 The 1758 deportation from Ile St.-Jean has been considered in studies of Acadians in general, Acadians of Prince Edward Island and histories of Prince Edward Island and the Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island.3 Within these frameworks, the expulsion of Ile St.-Jean’s inhabitants has been the subject of a few sentences or paragraphs and rarely more than a few pages. The most extensive consideration of the deportation is still that of A. B. Warburton, published in 1923. D. C. Harvey’s account, published in 1926, is briefer but more scholarly. Surprisingly, little or no new research on the deportation has appeared during the past 70 years, though there has been no shortage of books and articles which discuss it as part of a broader history.

5 Most of what is known about the deportation of Ile St.-Jean’s settlers is based on official records which survive in the Public Record Office (PRO) in London. Little information is available from archives in France or Québec. Indeed, it seems probable that relatively little about the deportation found its way into official French language records of the time. There is, however, a great deal of information in French archives concerning assistance to refugees from Ile St.-Jean who went to France. This information is frequently inextricably lumped with similar information for refugees from Ile Royale (Cape Breton). Both Warburton and Harvey relied upon information from British archives, chiefly Colonial Office records at the PRO, for their treatment of the deportation from Ile St.-Jean. Warburton also used some Admiralty records, though his documentation of his sources is sparse. In addition, both used information from French archives to a limited extent. Many of the others who have written about the deportation from Ile St.-Jean appear to have relied largely on secondary sources. Writing that was based on secondary sources has often become the authority for subsequent works, an iterative process in which inaccuracies and misinformation have compounded and become more entrenched.

6 Since little new primary research on the deportation has appeared in many decades, it might suggest that archival records are sparse and have been used to their fullest. This is not true. Records at the PRO that have received insufficient attention can serve to provide us with a better understanding of the logistics of the deportation operation and the fate of the shiploads of deportees. Admiralty records are particularly important in this regard, as they include: the log of the Hind, the warship used by Lieutenant-Colonel Rollo for transportation to and from the Ile St.-Jean and for convoying the transports that evacuated the inhabitants; Admiral Boscawens’ journal, which identifies the transports used in the deportation; documents which provide further information about these vessels and the identity of their masters; and documents concerning passengers on transports that stopped at English ports. War Office records, including correspondence from officials in Louisbourg to authorities in London, shed additional light on the deportation as well. The French National Archives, Fonds des Colonies, hold documents concerning the arrival of the transports in France that help us to gain a better understanding of the deportation. Perhaps the most useful "new" data from French archives are lists of inhabitants from Ile St.-Jean who debarked from seven transports at St. Malo, as well as the names of people on these vessels who died en route, that were compiled, translated and edited a quarter century ago by Milton and Norma Rieder of Louisiana. The existence of these records, drawn from documents in the archives of the Port of St.-Servan, has not been widely known, and they have been little used in studies concerning the deportation of 1758.4 This article draws from new sources such as these to provide a more comprehensive view of the deportation operation than has previously been available. It also addresses several commonly held misconceptions concerning the deportation of French settlers from Ile St.-Jean.

7 The fate of the residents of Ile St.-Jean was sealed on 26 July 1758. It was on this day that Governor Augustin de Boschenry de Drucour capitulated at Louisbourg, following weeks of bombardment of the fortress by British military forces. Louisbourg had been the seat of government, not only for Ile Royale, but also for Ile St.-Jean. Although the articles of capitulation provided for the removal of the French garrison on Ile St.-Jean, none of the articles addressed the fate of civilians in either Ile Royale or Ile St.-Jean. However, within days of the capitulation it became clear that British policy was to deport all inhabitants, civilian as well as military, from both Ile Royale and Ile St.-Jean.

8 The man Major General Jeffery Amherst, the commander of British forces, chose to arrange for the capitulation of Ile St.-Jean, the removal of its inhabitants and the construction of a fort at Port-la-Joie was 58-year-old Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Rollo who, prior to the siege of Louisbourg, had distinguished himself at Dettingen, Bavaria, and seen action at Albany and Schenectady in New York.5 Amherst’s instructions to Rollo were issued at Louisbourg on 8 August 1758.6 Rollo was to proceed immediately to Ile St.-Jean with 500 men in four transport vessels, the King of Prussia with 140 troops, the Dunbar with 140 troops, the Bristol with 130 troops and the Catherine with 90 troops. The troops included 300 infantry drawn from the regiments of Whitmore, Bragg, Warburton and Hopson, as well as 200 light infantry and rangers.7 The transport vessels, victualled for three months, were convoyed by the 24-gun, man-of-war, Hind, whose master was Robert Bond. The transports also carried 1000 palisades, boards, spikes, nails and tools for the use of 300 men for the construction of a redoubt, or fort, at Port-la-Joie. Drucour, the defeated French Governor, was to send along two or three of his officers from Louisbourg to inform the garrison and inhabitants on Ile St.-Jean of the articles of capitulation and the requirement that they surrender themselves and their firearms. All inhabitants who surrendered or were taken alive were to be brought to Louisbourg on the four transports as soon as the fort was completed, together with the British military personnel not being left at Port-la-Joie to man the fort. Should this prove impractical because of the numbers of prisoners, the transports were to remove all of the inhabitants to Louisbourg immediately, and then return to Port-la-Joie to pick up the troops. A British garrison of about 100 men was to be left at Port-la-Joie, more or fewer, as Rollo judged appropriate.

9 Rollo lost little time in carrying out his instructions. The Hind, with the four transports and a schooner, cleared Louisbourg on 10 August and sailed through the Strait of Canso on 13 August.8 The Hind’s log records that at 2 P.M. on 17 August, as the Hind was approaching the harbour at Port-la-Joie, a boat bearing a flag of truce came out to meet it. Capt. Bond sent his cutter to intercept the boat. At 3 P.M. the Hind "fired a gun & the [French] Fort was surrendered". The surrender would have been by the Island’s Major and Commandant, Gabriel Rousseau de Villejouin. The day ended with the British vessels moored in the harbour and with the capitulation having been extended to Ile St.-Jean.

10 Villejouin had been aware by the time the Hind left Louisbourg, if not before, that the British would soon be coming to Ile St.-Jean to remove him and his garrison. However, he was expecting only a packet boat ("paquebot"). At that time he evidently was unaware of the full extent of Rollo’s evacuation plans.9 It is unlikely however that the population was caught totally unawares, and in all probability they had taken some precautions. Louisbourg had been under threat for two or three years, and the inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean had known for some time that their situation was precarious. In the summer of 1756 Villejouin issued arms to some civilians and had had some stores moved up the North-East River (later named the Hillsborough River) from Port-la-Joie. Also, he advised farmers to conceal their families and livestock in the woods as a drill to enhance their awareness of the need for defensive tactics and their ability to implement them if required.10

11 The French garrison and administrative officials would have been among the first people taken into custody. Rollo’s forces took advantage of "moderate and fair" weather on 18 August to go up the North-East River "to bring down some French Prisoners". The Hind’s log shows that on the following day at 3 P.M., Rollo’s men "Brought down the French Prisoners and three 6 Pounders". It is likely that these three cannons or mortars had been installed by the French on the north side of the Hillsborough River slightly downstream of an island known today as Rams Island (formerly known as McNally’s Island) near present-day Frenchfort.11 During the following week, the transports discharged their supplies and the Hind received on board some ten bullocks and 19 sheep "for the use of the Ship’s Company". On 24 August the British sighted two French schooners coming down the river, and they were followed two days later by a schooner loaded with prisoners from the head of the river. British forces continued to round up inhabitants and place them on the transports until 31 August when the convoy, with 692 passengers, weighed anchor and headed for Louisbourg Harbour. It arrived on 4 September.12 Accounts from Rollo, delivered by the Hind, indicate that he was of the view that most of the inhabitants had "brought in their arms & will embark for Europe".13 The journal of Admiral Edward Boscawen notes that "five transports" in convoy with the Hind arrived in Louisbourg with prisoners from Ile St.-Jean.14 This is one ship more than the fleet originally assigned to Rollo. The additional "transport" may be the schooner Rollo brought with him to Ile St.-Jean, or one of the French schooners found there.

12 One of the few contemporary French documents describing the deportation on Ile St.-Jean is a letter dated 8 September 1758, written by Villejouin while aboard a vessel in the harbour of Port-la-Joie.15 In the letter, which is addressed to the minister in France responsible for colonies, Villejouin indicated that some of the settlers on Ile St.-Jean had gone to the Miramichi area, the nearest refuge, but had returned to face deportation due to a lack of provisions there. According to Villejouin, Rollo had permitted two priests from Ile St.-Jean, Pierre Cassiet and Jean Biscarat, to travel to Louisbourg with a petition from the inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean. It requested that they be allowed to remain on their lands, but the petition was denied by the British authorities at Louisbourg.16 Villejouin also reported that 700 settlers had been made to embark at the same time that he had and that all of them were still in the harbour of Port-la-Joie. He believed that 4000 settlers remained to be deported and expressed doubts that Rollo would succeed in taking them all that year. He also estimated that there were more than 6000 cattle on the Island, the same number reported about a year earlier by Governor Vaudreuil of Québec.17

13 The information provided by Villejouin raises questions. On what vessels were Villejouin and close to 700 others being held on 8 September? The transports that had come to Port-la-Joie with Rollo sailed for Louisbourg on 31 of August, arriving there with their loads of prisoners on 4 September. Additional transports are not known to have reached Port-la-Joie until early October. One possibility is that Villejouin and the settlers were detained on schooners taken from the French on Ile St.-Jean. A more likely explanation is that the 700 detainees referred to by Villejouin were actually the 692 prisoners sent to Louisbourg on transports on 31 August. In this event, is the date of Villejouin’s letter incorrect, or was it added some days after the letter, or some parts of it, were written? The garrison and government officials, including Villejouin, would almost certainly have been taken to Louisbourg aboard the first available vessels going there.18 Villejouin expected his family to be travelling to Rochefort in France. As a military person, however, he was destined for England where detention awaited him. Villejouin proceeded to Louisbourg where Boscawen placed him, along with 19 military officers from Louisbourg and 24 others, aboard the warship York under the command of Hugh Pigot. After a difficult passage begun on 13 September, the York reached Spithead, England on 27 October, or possibly slightly earlier.19

14 The French soldiers of the garrison at Port-la-Joie were shipped from Louisbourg to England, as were the garrisons of Louisbourg and other military posts on Ile Royale. While some of the military prisoners may have been detained in England, perhaps until the close of the war in 1763, many were transferred from England to France during the fall of 1758 and the first half of 1759.20 The civilian prisoners delivered to Louisbourg in early September were sent to Europe soon thereafter on other vessels. In Boscawen’s journal, immediately after the entry concerning the arrival of the Hind and her convoy on 4 September, an entry states that he had "Order’d Thomas Hurry, Mas of the Duke of Cumberland Transpt, to receive 327 Fr. Prisoners & carry them to Rochelle, there to receive 38 English Prisoners in exchange and carry them to Plymouth". Similarly, on 10 September the transports Richmond and Britannia were dispatched from Louisbourg to La Rochelle with 284 and 312 prisoners respectively. From there they were to convey 248 English prisoners to Plymouth. A little over two weeks later, two transports, the Sukey and Mary, left Louisbourg for St. Malo with more than 600 prisoners. These were but some of the transports sent off from Louisbourg loaded with prisoners. Most carried people who had been living in Louisbourg and Ile Royale. The Mary however was loaded with prisoners from Ile St.-Jean.

15 British authorities grossly underestimated the number of inhabitants on Ile St.-Jean. Boscawen acknowledged that the British had reckoned that the total population numbered only 400 or 500.21 Once Rollo was able to provide his superiors at Louisbourg with revised estimates, they recognized that they would need many more transports and quickly procured them. Boscawen wrote on 8 September that he "order’d 13 Transports to be supplied with two months provisions from the Commissary of Stores, for 3540 French Prisoners to be received on board them at the Isle St Johns".22 Three days later he wrote that he had directed Mr. Charles Hay, agent for the transports, to proceed under convoy of the Hind to Ile St.-Jean with 14 transports (see Table One) to take on board all the French prisoners there, to proceed to St. Malo, and from there convey English prisoners to the River Thames.23

Table One : List of Transports Used in Ile St.-Jean Deportation (identified on 11 September 1758)


Display large image of Table 1

Source: see footnote 23.

16 While the transports were being provisioned, the Hind took on new supplies, including 15 firkins of butter, 50 hundredweight of bread and six puncheons of beer.24 On 14 September the Hind set out from Louisbourg for Ile St.-Jean with the 14 transports plus a schooner and a snow.25 Owing to unfavourable weather, the unwieldy number of vessels and the nature of the route (the narrow Strait of Canso), Captain Bond had difficulty advancing to Ile St.-Jean and keeping the convoy together. By 26 September the Hind was about ten kilometres southeast of Pictou Island and was off Ile St.-Jean’s East Point by the following day. Here the Yarmouth grounded.26 Other transports assisted in refloating the vessel the next day and it was able to continue.27 By 29 September, however, squalls had pushed the Hind back into St. Georges Bay, a few leagues from the northwestern end of the Strait of Canso.28 While the Hind was struggling to deliver its charges to Port-la-Joie, authorities in Louisbourg had meanwhile decided that additional transports were required at Ile St.-Jean. On 18 September Boscawen’s journal notes that he had "order’d the masters of the Transports Richard and Mary, Scarborough and Mary to proceed to St. Johns, & there place themselves under the Command of Capt. Bond of the Hind, & Mr. Chas Hay Agent for Transports" (see Table Two).29 Nothing further is known about the movement of the three additional transports ordered to Ile St.-Jean by Boscawen. However, the Hind’s log indicates that on 24 September "...his Majesty’s ships Juno and Etna with sevl Transports" passed through the Strait of Canso. On the following day a sloop and a ship came through the Strait as well. The three additional transports ordered to Ile St.-Jean by Boscawen almost certainly made the trip since one, the Richard and Mary, is known to have run into problems after leaving Port-la-Joie.

Table Two : Additional Transports (identified on 18 September 1758)


Display large image of Table 2

Source: see footnote 23, especially "Journal of Boscawen", 18 September 1758.

17 By 3 October Captain Bond finally succeeded in getting his convoy into the harbour of Port-la-Joie.30 On 4 October Captain Bond sent a sloop up the North-East River with a petty officer and six men to retrieve cattle. Four men were assigned the same task on 6 October. In addition to obtaining beef, the first week and a half was spent in further provisioning the transports, including "wooding the ships" (presumably bringing on board supplies of firewood). Provisioning continued off and on throughout the time that the vessels were at Port-la-Joie. Crew brought water aboard the vessels on a number of occasions, and on one day crew of the Hind were sent ashore to brew spruce beer. On 15 October Captain Bond sent longboats from the Hind up the river to receive inhabitants. The British continued to round up settlers until about the beginning of November.

18 Not all of the inhabitants submitted to British orders that they turn themselves in. Rollo informed Boscawen, in a letter dated 10 October, that "numbers have fled to Canada and carried off great quantities of cattle by means of 4 Schooners which ply from Magpeck [Malpec] to ye Continent".31 A letter dated 12 October from Captain Bond acknowledged the difficulty that the troops were having in getting the inhabitants to submit. He mentioned that an armed schooner mounting six guns was assisting fugitives. Two days after Bond wrote this letter it was in the hands of Rear-Admiral Philip Durell, Boscawen’s successor at Louisbourg. Durell believed the armed schooner to be one that Captain Vaughan and Captain James Murray had chased into the harbour at Miramichi during a raiding foray to that place about 15 September.32 On receiving this information from Ile St.-Jean, Durell ordered Captain Maximillian Jacobs to proceed from Louisbourg with the armed cruiser Kennington "with the utmost dispatch on a Cruize to the Northward of the Island of St. Johns, and use his utmost endeavour to destroy the said armed French Ship and Schooners, and after being upon that Station some days, to proceed to the entrance of the River St. Lawrence".33 On 18 October Durell dispatched a sloop to Ile St.-Jean to advise Rollo of the action he was taking. Having been provided with a pilot familiar with the Island, the Kennington set out on 20 October. The Kennington, which was to cruise off the north shore of the Island for eight or ten days, encountered nothing of significance. This is hardly surprising, since the Kennington, after passing through Cabot Strait, followed a course which took it well to the north of the Magdalene Islands and on to Gaspé.34 This route kept it distant from Ile St.-Jean.

19 Among those assisting settlers to escape from the north shore of Ile St.-Jean was Nicolas Gautier, who came from a prominent family in Acadia noted for its opposition to British rule. According to one Acadian historian, Nicolas’ father was one of the most important personages in Acadia in his time.35 Nicolas, his father and other family members had moved from Acadia to Ile St.-Jean about 1749. Shortly before the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, he relocated to the head of the Bay of Chaleur.36 Under the auspices of Jean-Francois Bourdon, the commander at Restigouche, and Charles Deschamps de Boishébert, a Canadian soldier who pursued guerrilla activities in Acadia from 1746 to 1749 and from 1754 to 1758, Gautier almost certainly employed one or more schooners during the summer and fall of 1758 to help settlers on the north side of Ile St.-Jean escape to Miramichi and the Bay of Chaleur region.37 His rescue operation was no doubt an integral part of the evasive activities reported in October by Rollo and Bond. A few inhabitants may have fled to St. Pierre and Miquelon as well.38

20 As the end of October approached, British efforts to take in prisoners drew to a close. A letter written by Rev. Jacques Girard, the parish priest at Pointe-Prime indicates that Girard and "a fair number of inhabitants from my parish" were embarked at Port-la-Joie on 20 October.39 The embarkment of Girard and at least some portion of the people comprising the parish of Pointe-Prime occurred therefore toward the end of the period during which the inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean were uprooted. Girard was embarked on the Duke William, one of the largest transports brought to Port-la-Joie. According to one account, he conducted many marriages during the weeks before the transports left Port-la-Joie, as the deportees believed that single men deported to France would be compelled to become soldiers, an eventuality which they wished to avoid.40

21 On 30 October the master of a sloop that had arrived at Louisbourg reported that 1600 of the inhabitants of Isle St.-Jean had been embarked and that the approximately 600 remaining settlers would have to stay for the winter.41 Rear-Admiral Durell informed Boscawen, who was by then in England, that Governor Whitmore at Louisbourg had recently received a letter from Rollo confirming what the sloop’s master had said and reporting that the troops at Port-la-Joie were to embark for Louisbourg on 28 October.42 In his correspondence, dated 5 November, Durell noted that the settlers who would remain were "sickly and most of them Women and Children". In a letter to an Admiralty official in London, also dated 5 November, Durell reported receiving a letter from Bond indicating that 2000 inhabitants had been deported on 16 transports (all that Bond had). The transports were sent to France as cartel ships, which secured them from capture.43 A day later, Governor Whitmore wrote Pitt that about 2200 inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean had been embarked, but Rollo had written that "much against his Inclinations He is obliged to leave the Inhabitants of a whole Parish behind. They live at a distant part of the Island about a hundred Miles by land which is Impracticable for Them to March and the Agent for the Transports (one Capt Hay) told my Lord Rollo and Capt Bond of His Majesty’s Ship Hinde He would protest against it if They were. Admiral Durel has Sent further Orders since this Advice and I hope They will be Embarked".44 This parish was La Sainte-Famille located at Malpec in the vicinity of the present-day Port Hill.45

22 In a letter dated 11 November Whitmore provided Amherst with better figures.46 A sloop he had sent to Ile St.-Jean on 19 October returned on 5 November with a letter from Rollo, dated October 28, indicating that 2150 of the inhabitants had been "ship’d off". This number was apparently in addition to the 692 said by Rollo to have been aboard the transports which the Hind had taken into Louisbourg Harbour on 4 September. Yet a further revision of the numbers embarked is contained in a letter of 21 November from Whitmore to Amherst in which he says that "By the Returns I have recd from the Island of St. Johns, Two Thousand four hundred & fifteen persons were Embark’d for France".47 Presumably, this figure does not include the 692 taken to Louisbourg in September. A few inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean experienced double tragedy as their removal by Rollo’s forces was their second deportation. The Island’s French population included a handful of settlers who had been deported from the mainland in 1755, shipped to the Carolinas, and who had since returned.48 For many Acadians, the deportation of 1758 represented the beginning of an odyssey that would take them to such scattered places as France, St. Pierre and Miquelon, islands in the Caribbean, Guiana, Corsica, Louisiana, and even the Falkland Islands. Inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean ended up in all or most of these places, though in many instances their stay was for only a few years.49

23 The Hind left Port-la-Joie on 4 November with a number of transports, including the Richard and Mary, Tamerlane, Briton and Parnassus.50 The Briton and Richard and Mary primarily carried troops no longer required at Fort Amherst.51 The Hind, Briton and Richard and Mary were destined for Louisbourg; the other transports carried prisoners destined for Europe. By 5 November the ships reached the entrance to the Strait of Canso. On the following day squalls developed in the afternoon and the Tamerlane was driven ashore in the Strait.52 The next day strong gales sent the Parnassus ashore also in the Strait, and the Hind’s cutter sought to assist her. By 13 November the fleet (at least the portion still mobile) reached the vicinity of Ile Madame where the Richard and Mary struck a submerged rock. It displayed a distress signal and subsequently ran in for the shore of Ile Madame. The Hind attempted to work up to the transport but failed owing to an ebb tide. The Hind and Briton continued to Louisbourg, arriving there on 14 November.

24 The British refloated the Tamerlane, but abandoned the stranded Parnassus as a wreck. They placed its passengers, all of whom were saved, aboard one or more of the other transports.53 It appears that John Moore, master of the Richard and Mary, as well as several of his crew, transferred to the Duke William. As for the Richard and Mary, authorities sent help as soon as the Hind reached Louisbourg.54 Whitmore readied two sloops or schooners to assist the Richard and Mary, but contrary winds delayed their departure until 20 November. In the meantime, Whitmore sent an officer and twenty Rangers overland along the coast to obtain what intelligence they could concerning the stricken vessel. Whitmore received word by land during the morning of 22 November that, although the Richard and Mary had sunk very quickly after striking the rock, all of the passengers had gotten off safely.55 By the time that Whitmore’s rescue vessels might have reached the stranded passengers, an officer from the Richard and Mary had returned to the Strait of Canso and contacted transports which had earlier left Port-la-Joie but not yet exited the Strait. On learning what had transpired, Charles Hay, the agent for the transports, created space on one of the cartel ships by transferring all or some of its passengers to other vessels in the group. This ship then picked up the stranded passengers and proceeded with them to Louisbourg, arriving on 22 November.56 Some of the troops who had been on the Richard and Mary were in a bad state of health and unfit for duty. Eighteen were given leave of absence and sent to Boston.57 The remainder were immediately put aboard a schooner bound for Halifax, which set out from Louisbourg on 22 November. The schooner encountered storms and was almost lost, but succeeded in getting back into Louisbourg on 8 December. By then, its passengers were in such a weak and sickly condition that they all had to be brought ashore and hospitalized.58

25 The remaining transports passed through the Strait and into Chedabucto Bay unharmed and, except for two which went to Louisbourg, sailed directly for Europe. It is possible that some of the transports sent to Ile St.-Jean in September sailed straight from Port-la-Joie to Europe some days or weeks before the Hind made its final departure from Port-la-Joie. The transports which sailed on their transoceanic voyage, varied in size from 95 tons, with a crew of six, to 400 tons, with a normal crew of 28. Most carried at least five guns and the largest vessel, the Duke William, carried ten.59 The transports carrying civilians were destined for France, not England, and they sailed under cartels.

26 The sinking of the Duke William and the Violet with the loss of almost all of their passengers, as these vessels neared Europe, is an aspect of the deportation from Ile St.-Jean that is relatively well known. Little has been published, however, about the other transports and their human cargo. A complete picture may never be known, but a great deal more information is available than the literature would suggest. At least six transports which had been to Port-la-Joie crossed directly to France safely and at least two others arrived safely in France via England. Most of these took their passengers to St. Malo. Three or four sank or were wrecked part way across the Atlantic or on the shores of Europe. Lists were made of the names of the Acadian deportees arriving in France. Those for the port of St. Malo have survived and provide the names of the transports, their dates of arrival and the names of the passengers who arrived safely, as well as the names of those who died at sea. They also include information on passengers who were hospitalized and concerning what became of many of the passengers, at least in the short term.60

27 The Tamerlane, the first transport known to have arrived at St. Malo, disembarked 54 passengers on 16 January 1759. The agent, Charles Hay, was on board along with the captain and 14 crewmen.61 On 23 January, the John and Samuel, Mathias, Patience, Restoration, and Yarmouth unloaded between 665 and 690 passengers at St. Malo.62 Some of these passengers were from the parish of St. Pierre-du-Nord, and, arguably, the most precious possessions they brought with them were three volumes comprising the parish registers, with entries dating from June 1724 to August 1758.63 The Mathias and the Yarmouth arrived at the Downs from St. Malo at the beginning of February.64 These two vessels were unable to pick up any English prisoners at St. Malo in exchange for prisoners from Ile St.-Jean because French authorities deemed the latter to be neither soldiers nor navy men and therefore not prisoners of war.65 The agreement on the exchange of prisoners applied, at least from the French viewpoint, only to military prisoners. For this reason, it is unlikely that any of the other transports which disembarked passengers in France from Ile St.-Jean were able to take aboard British prisoners in accordance with Boscawen’s instructions.

28 The Supply arrived at the English port of Bideford in County Devon about 20 December with 160 passengers. The vessel had run low on provisions and Admiralty authorities ordered that provisions for five weeks be provided immediately. They further informed local officials that "the ship may not be detained a moment longer than necessary, and as soon as she is victualled it is their Lordships’ direction that you hasten her away".66 Exactly what transpired over the next two months or so is unknown. Provisioning for five weeks seems inconsistent with plans for an immediate departure for France. In any event it was not until 9 March, more than two months later, that the Supply reached St. Malo, where port authorities reported that 140 passengers disembarked — 25 fewer than had embarked at Ile St.-Jean. Evidently, the majority of those who died succumbed between the time the Supply reached England and the time of its arrival at St. Malo.67 About 23 December the Neptune put in at Portsmouth "in great distress, being in want of fresh Provisions and very Sickly".68 In addition to provisions and other necessities, a French surgeon was put aboard and within several days of its arrival the vessel sailed for France. When the Neptune reached France and discharged its passengers is not precisely known, but it was back in England before 24 January.69 The Three Sisters apparently crossed the Atlantic safely, although it may have stopped at Portsmouth before continuing on to France. Alternatively, it may have gone straight to France and then served to ferry other deportees from England to France in early February.

29 Records reveal that one of the transports took refuge at the port of Boulogne on the French side of the English Channel on account of a storm. It is not clear which transport this was, but it arrived at Boulogne with 179 passengers from Ile St.-Jean on 26 December. Several passengers died en route.70 Some records indicate that the majority of the passengers were from the parish of "St.-Pierre et St.-Paul".71 This may be misleading. St. Pierre and St. Paul were two separate parishes of Isle St.-Jean, one in the area of St. Pierre-du-Nord and the other of Point-Prime. There was, however, a parish of St. Pierre et St. Paul at Cobequid (now Truro, N.S.), and many of the people who settled in the Point Prime region in the early 1750s, including Father Girard, had come from the parish of St. Pierre et St. Paul at Cobequid. It seems likely that the passengers who reached Boulogne were from Pointe-Prime or St. Pierre-du-Nord, or perhaps from both parishes. Some accounts state that the vessel put into Boulogne for want of provisions. They may well have run out, but being off course due to weather seems to have been the main problem, as Boulogne was 300 kilometers east of its destination, St. Malo.72

30 Other transports experienced more serious difficulties during their crossing. The story of the passengers of the Violet and of the Duke William, in particular, is fairly well known, owing to a lengthy and detailed account which was published about 1880 in a book called Remarkable Voyages and Shipwrecks.73 This account appears to be based on a diary kept by William Nichols, the master of the Duke William, or possibly a member of his crew. The whereabouts of the diary, if indeed it has survived, is unknown. The published account is erroneous in some respects.74 Within a day or two of reaching land, Nichols sent a letter to a London monthly magazine describing what had happened on the crossing.75 An extract of this letter survives, since the magazine promptly published it.76 While there is much agreement between the extract and the account in the book, there are some discrepancies, particularly as to the date on which the Duke William sprung a leak. A third account, written by Captain Pile of the Achilles, does not differ greatly from the other two, except in indicating that Captain Nichols knew in advance that his vessel’s seaworthiness was doubtful.77 According to Pile, Nichols protested but was pressured into proceeding by "the Government of Nova Scotia". As Warburton has noted in his A History of Prince Edward Island, the government of Nova Scotia had nothing to do with the matter, and "Capt. Pile’s story as to the condition of the Duke William is not warranted by the facts as we have them".78 Captain Pile’s account makes no reference to the Violet. Since detailed information about the Duke William’s ill-fated crossing is available elsewhere, only the gist of the story will be presented here.

31 According to Remarkable Voyages and Shipwrecks, the Duke William, Violet, Yarmouth, Neptune, John and Samuel, Ruby and at least one other transport left Chedabucto Bay as a group on 25 November 1758 and set out on their ocean voyage. Several days later the vessels encountered a storm which dispersed them. Stormy weather continued for a couple of weeks. On 10 December the Duke William caught sight of the Violet, and on drawing near, discovered that the latter was in major difficulty, taking in water faster than it could be pumped out. By one account, the Duke William developed a leak on 29 November and began taking on water, struggling onward with great difficulty for the next two weeks. By another account, it was after the Violet was sighted that a heavy sea struck the Duke William and, on 10 or 11 December, breached the hull. In any event, the Violet sank on 12 December, according to Admiralty records, and all aboard were lost. The Duke William fought on; passengers helped to bail with tubs as the ship’s three pumps struggled constantly. On 13 December the captain and crew recognized that their situation was hopeless, as the ship was by then very low in the water. They lowered the Duke William’s cutter and longboat and launched them with much difficulty. However, these small boats could accommodate only a very small fraction of those on board. According to Nichols, the passengers begged the captain and crew to save themselves while the French would resign themselves to their fate. Be that as it may, on 13 December at 4 P.M. Captain Nichols, his first mate, the priest Jacques Girard, four people who had boarded from the Richard and Mary, and 20 crew from the Duke William took their leave in the stricken vessel’s longboat, while the second mate and eight crew did so in the cutter. Within a couple of days, those in the longboat sighted the coast of Cornwall and later came ashore at Penzance. The cutter safely reached shore near Land’s End. As it turned out, one other boat was launched from the Duke William as well. Just before the vessel went down, four male passengers managed to leave on the ship’s jolly boat and made it safely to Falmouth. They reported that the Duke William went down in calm seas, its decks blowing up with a noise like a clap of thunder. Admiralty records indicate that the vessel sank on 13 December.

32 According to Father Girard, all the papers, books and other effects which he had taken aboard the Duke William went down with the ship.79 The registers of the Parish of Pointe-Prime were probably among the items lost, since they have not been found and it is likely Girard took them aboard the Duke William. According to Remarkable Voyages and Shipwrecks, 360 perished on the Duke William and 400 on the Violet.80 The published extract from Nichols’ letter, however, states that the Duke William and Violet each carried 300 French passengers. In his letter of 24 January 1759, Girard wrote that 300 people were lost in the sinking of the Duke William "twenty or thirty leagues from land". In a letter written in 1774, Girard again refers to 300 deaths resulting from the loss of this ship.81 Some of the variation in numbers of passengers reportedly lost on these two transports may result from confusing the numbers embarked with the numbers drowned and not taking account of deaths from disease and illness during passage.

33 One and quite possibly two transports from Ile St.-Jean ran aground as they approached Europe. In his letter of 1774, Girard mentioned that one of the transports was lost on the coast of Spain. The name of this vessel is unknown and Girard does not indicate how many passengers perished but the context of his remarks suggests some did. The Ruby, a transport carrying 310 passengers, ran aground in the Azores. It sprang a leak as it passed to the south of the Azores and Captain William Kelly made for Fayal, one of the islands of the Azores group. He was forced, however, to run the Ruby onto the rocks of Pico, another island in the group, as the vessel was sinking quickly. On 22 January 1759, the British government representative at Fayal, William Street, wrote Pitt that "One Hundred & Twenty French & Twenty Three English People were saved". He noted that the Ruby was destined for St. Malo and emphasized the "ties of honour the English Government was under to maintain & find a passage for the said People", and noted that "I, sincerely regarding the honour of the Nation, have maintained & freighted the Portugese schooner Sta Catherina to carry them to Portsmouth, as per Charter party".82 Admiralty records show that a schooner arrived at Portsmouth on 4 February, or slightly earlier, "from the Western Islands, having on board 87 Prisoners from St. Johns who were cast away in the Ruby Transport there". Admiralty officials intended to transfer these passengers to the Three Sisters and have them taken with other passengers to the first port that could be reached in France.83 Instructions to this effect, however, were given too late, and the Three Sisters sailed for France on 4 or 5 of February without any of the 87 passengers from Ile St.-Jean. Having discharged its load of prisoners at Havre de Grace (La Havre), the Three Sisters was back in Portsmouth by 10 February.84 In the meanwhile, arrangements were made to transport the shipwrecked people of Ile St.-Jean from Portsmouth to France on the Bird.85 This tender departed Portsmouth by 10 February and probably discharged its passengers at Havre de Grace.86

34 It is not clear why only 87 passengers from the Ruby were taken on the Portugese schooner Sta Catherina to Portsmouth, if 120 French and 23 English survived. Possibly, the remaining survivors were sent to England, France, or even Portugal on another vessel. It would appear that about 190 of the passengers from the Ruby lost their lives aboard ship as a result of disease or by drowning off the coast of Pico. Some of those who survived the shipwreck may have died of disease before they could be taken to Portsmouth. Records show that the Ruby’s full complement of officers and crew was 27 and a staffing inventory taken in July 1758 indicated an actual number of 26.87 It seems clear that almost all the crew survived the sinking of the Ruby. All of the Duke William’s officers and crew managed to save themselves as well. Considering the magnitude of the loss of passengers on both vessels, William Street’s remarks about the "honour of the Nation" seem somewhat ironic.

35 The fate of the Mary is well-documented. At 600 tons it was larger than any of the transports which went to Port-la-Joie (half as large again as the Duke William). The Mary took on passengers in Louisbourg, embarking those who had come from Ile St.-Jean on 4 September and who were not associated with the military or administration. On 26 September Boscawen ordered the Mary to receive 540 prisoners and to proceed from Louisbourg to St. Malo.88 On 1 November a dispatch was sent from Spithead to Admiralty authorities in London, stating that the "Mary Transport, Alexr Donaldson, Master from Louisbourg to St Maloes, with french prisoners, came to anchor at Mother Bank last night. The Master informs That he left Louisbourg the 27 Sept. having 560 french prisoners aboard belonging to the Island Sr Johns". The dispatch went on to say that the Mary was very leaky, that her pumps were constantly going, and she was unable to continue her voyage. This was not the only problem experienced by the Mary. A large number (perhaps most) of her passengers suffered a "Malignant Distemper" on the voyage from Louisbourg and many deaths occurred en route. Captain Donaldson buried 250 to 260 passengers at sea, mostly children. The dispatch concluded with the comments "I will suffer none [from the Mary] to come on shore at present; And those who are got ashore already, I will take up as soon as they can be found".89

36 Two days later authorities in London ordered the Commissioners for the Sick and Wounded to bring an unemployed transport alongside the Mary, and to remove from her "as many of the People (or all of them) as shall be necessary for the Recovery of their Health".90 Instructions were given that prisoners be issued with "Provisions and refreshments", and that surgeons provide medical care. A dispatch from Spithead, dated 12 November, indicates that the tenders Bird and Desire were ordered to receive passengers from the Mary, by then located at Ryde, a few kilometres from Portsmouth. However, "the Masters have been remiss in following the Directions I gave them upon that head, in so much that, none of the People have been taken on board till this Day...." The crews of the tenders had deserted on account of being "apprehensive of the Distemper aboard the Mary". Having been "reduced to a very great Distress", the passengers had applied to be sent to any part of France.91 Since the Mary was too leaky to proceed to France, authorities in Spithead proposed to Admiralty officials in London that the two tenders take the passengers to France instead "which will be highly acceptable to the poor People, and Convenient to His Majesty’s service here." A surgeon’s report of 12 November indicated that he could perceive nothing contagious with respect to the reported distemper, and the passengers’ "Disorders seem to proceed more from the want of the Necessaries of Life, than any other thing". Based on what he had learned from the surgeon, an Admiralty official wrote that the passengers appeared to be in a starving condition and almost naked. "This and their having been so much crowded, and breathing consequently foul Air, and lying Dirty, he [the surgeon] thinks to be the occasion of the Loss of such numbers as have already Dyed".92

37 Authorities at Spithead advised their superiors in London that evidence suggested that Captain Donaldson had not treated the passengers appropriately on the voyage and had been negligent toward them after arriving in England as well.93 The Admiralty was concerned not just for the passengers of the Mary but also for how the Admiralty would be viewed by France. An official at Spithead wrote: "I would beg leave to submit to their Lordships, how proper it might be, to order them some clothing, especially Linnen, some of the women and Children being Naked; And, likewise, not to confine them to the Common allowance of Provisions, as they are at present extremely extenuated, and will make, at best, but a very poor Figure in their own Country; which May give occasion to make Reflection on the usage they have met with".94 The most sickly of the Mary’s passengers were put aboard the Desire on 12 November, extra provisions were made available to them, and replacement crews provided for both tenders. The following day instructions were issued in London ordering the Bird and Desire to take the passengers of the Mary to the nearest port in France, under a flag of truce, as soon as they were well enough to make the trip.95 On 15 November the Admiralty decided to place a French surgeon and some medicines aboard each of the tenders.96

38 Two British vessels described by the French as packet boats arrived at Cherbourg from Portsmouth in the latter half of November with passengers from Ile St.-Jean and Ile Royale.97 Some or all of these people were probably passengers taken off the Mary at Portsmouth. The Bird and Desire were to have taken Mary’s passengers to the nearest port in France. This would have been Cherbourg. A port official at Cherbourg reported to authorities in Paris that the captain of one of the packet boats set sail for Portsmouth, without unloading chests of the prisoners containing many personal effects and some silver. Stolen effects of the prisoners were found on the premises of the harbour master at Cherbourg, apparently implicating him in the affair.98 Back in Portsmouth the master of the Desire acknowledged having taken "some empty chests" from Cherbourg. The Admiralty removed the master from its service pending further enquiry and Admiralty officials considering the case thought that his pay should be suspended until the matter was cleared up.99 The examination report, which was forwarded to London on 16 December 1758, indicated that a port worker at Cherbourg charged with retrieving the chests after the passengers disembarked, broke open some chests, helped himself to what he wanted and left chests aboard ship. The six crewmen of the Desire who were examined for the report claimed that the remaining chests were not discovered by the crew until the Desire was nearing England. At that point the master and crew divided the spoils, which they claimed were table linen and women’s clothing worth not more than ten pounds.100 On 17 November the Admiralty instructed Captain Donaldson to proceed with his vessel under convoy to the British port where the Mary would be discharged from Admiralty service.101 This appears to have been a routine order, not a censure or a disciplinary action.102

39 In 1768 Jean Louise Le Loutre wrote in regard to the deportation from Ile St.-Jean: "The enemy shipped these poor families in fourteen transports, three of which carried over three hundred and eighty people apiece and which sank on the high seas... [the remainder] arrived in France at the end of 1758 or the beginning of 1759...."103 Le Loutre, who was a priest, had been extensively involved in the affairs of Acadia from 1737 until his return to Europe in 1755. From 1763 until his death in 1772 he devoted himself to assisting Acadian refugees in France.104 His reference to three sinkings raises questions. Two of the sinkings would have been the Duke William and the Violet. What about the third? It may have been the transport supposedly lost on the coast of Spain, as noted by Girard, or it may have been the Ruby which foundered on the rocks of Pico in the Azores. But the Ruby was not "lost on the high seas" and the same could be said for a vessel lost on the coast of Spain. Might Le Loutre be referring to the sinking at sea of yet another transport, a sinking that has been forgotten over 240 years and which is obscurely documented, if documented at all?105 It seems more likely that he is in error.

40 A few of Ile St.-Jean’s inhabitants who landed in England directly from Ile St.-Jean may have been held there until 1763 when the Seven Years’ War ended. The Acadians deported to Virginia in 1755 were ultimately sent to England, where they were held in various towns and cities until 1763. In May of that year, as preparations were made to send these refugees to France, problems emerged for French officials in England concerning who should be considered an Acadian. At issue in particular was whether the term "Acadian" should include about 40 settlers who had lived in Ile St.-Jean.106 This might suggest that passengers from one or more unidentified transports reached England in late 1758 or early 1759 and were held there for the next four years. Alternatively, some of the passengers from the Mary, under the command of Captain Donaldson, or the Neptune may have remained in England in late 1758. Still another possibility is that some of the survivors of the Ruby were not transferred from England to France in early 1759. The Portugese schooner which conveyed survivors of the wreck of the Ruby from the Azores to Portsmouth reportedly brought only 87 prisoners. Since 120 were reported saved in the Azores, some or all of the remaining 33 may have reached England on another vessel and not been sent to France until 1763. The most likely explanation, however, for the presence of inhabitants from Ile St.-Jean in England in 1763 is that these people were captured at sea by the British during the Seven Years’ War, possibly near Ile St.-Jean or Ile Royale, or perhaps near Europe. Some of the deportees from Ile St.-Jean became involved in privateering after they arrived in France and some may also have served on French warships.

41 Seventeen transports were ordered to proceed to Ile St.-Jean from Louisbourg on 11 September and 18 September. Thirteen, possibly fourteen, appear to have departed Port-la-Joie and headed across the Atlantic with prisoners from the Island. The fate of the passengers on two of the transports ordered to deport settlers from Port-la-Joie, the Scarborough and Mary, is not clear.107 One of these two vessels is presumably the transport which reached Boulogne. The other may be the transport said to have been wrecked on the coast of Spain. Nine or ten transports in total seem to have reached Europe safely (though not all of their passengers did). Some of the passengers on the Ruby reached France as well. In addition to the deportees traveling on these transports, there were the prisoners, including members of the garrison and administrative officials and their families from Port-la-Joie, who were taken to Louisbourg in early September. The civilians who were transshipped to France, and the military personnel who were sent to England, appear to have crossed the Atlantic safely. Many of the civilian passengers transshipped on the 600-ton Mary, though, died en route. Illness and death were commonplace on the transports used to deport inhabitants from Ile St.-Jean and Ile Royale to Europe. Among the 1003 to 1040 passengers carried on the five transports which arrived at St. Malo on 23 January, some 335 to 350 died at sea.108 This represents a mortality of 33 per cent aboard ship. In some cases whole families were wiped out. Many were hospitalized upon arriving in France and many of these died in hospital. Others among those who disembarked died within two or three years of their landing in France, presumably as a result of disease.

42 It is possible to track the fate of some of the leaders of Ile St.-Jean who were deported, as well as that of their families. Records from La Rochelle concerning the status of refugee families of administrative and military personnel in the upper echelons, as of 25 April 1759, include Madame Villejouin, wife of Commandant Villejouin, who was deported to England and was it seems still being held there. French authorities provided rations for Madame Villejouin, her three daughters, a negresse domistique and two Acadian domestic servants, but not her son, a military cadet.109 A young girl in the charge of Madame Villejouin had died before reaching La Rochelle. After Villejouin was repatriated to France, sometime prior to 22 July 1759, he was made garrison adjutant at Rochefort and the following year was appointed inspector of all colonial troops. In 1763 he received his last appointment, that of lieutenant-colonel and governor of the island of Désirade, a tiny speck in the Carribean which later became part of Guadeloupe.

43 Lieutenant-Colonel Rollo’s correspondence provides clues concerning the fate of the priests Pierre Cassiet and Jean Biscarat, who had travelled from the Island to Louisbourg to petition to have the deportation at Port-la-Joie called off. In a letter to Boscawen, dated 10 October 1758, Rollo noted "the Priests of St Peter [Biscarat] and St Louis [Cassiet] I sent in the first transports....", presumably those that left Ile St.-Jean for Louisbourg on 31 August.110 Father Cassiet reputedly left Port-la-Joie with a number of his parishioners on a transport which carried 166 passengers. Some three months later, he supposedly reached Plymouth, England, weakened as a result of illness. A family tradition has it that Cassiet and his fellow passengers were detained aboard ship at Plymouth with little food or water for another three months before they were able to proceed to France.111 During his deportation Cassiet would have been transferred at Louisbourg to a transport that had not been to Ile St.-Jean. A priest (referred to as a "missionary") is known to have been aboard one of the packet boats that reached Cherbourg from Portsmouth during the latter half of November. It carried French prisoners who were probably survivors from the Mary.112 It is possible that this priest was Cassiet, in which case he could not have gone to Plymouth or languished in England for three months. If indeed he landed in Plymouth, it must have been on some other transport. It is also possible that twisted tradition has confused Cassiet with the priest Le Loutre. Several months after he fled the Chignecto area, following the fall of Fort Beauséjour in June 1755, Le Loutre was captured at sea by the British. He was taken to Plymouth and was held there for three months, reportedly in extremely confined conditions, during which time he was malnourished and very badly treated.113 In any event, after reaching France, Cassiet made his way to Morlaix in Brittany where he remained for some time while regaining his health.114

44 Father Biscarat was less fortunate than Father Cassiet. Many writers have claimed that Biscarat’s ship foundered while crossing the Atlantic and that he drowned. This claim is almost certainly erroneous. According to Abbé de L’Isle-Dieu, Biscarat died about the time that he reached England or soon afterward.115 It is probable that he fell ill on the voyage and that he suffered from exhaustion and inadequate rations aboard ship.116 It is possible that Biscarat, as well as Cassiet, was a passenger on the Mary, which came to anchor near Portsmouth at the end of October with refugees from Ile St.-Jean, since all, or practically all, of the civilian prisoners who arrived at Louisbourg from Ile St.-Jean in September were put aboard the Mary. In regard to Cassiet and Biscarat, it is an ironic twist of fate that the parish registers of St. Pierre-du-Nord reached France in safety, while the parish priest did not, whereas with St. Louis-du-Nord-Est, the reverse was the case.

45 There are clues as well concerning what happened to other Island notables. Jean-Gabriel Berbudeau, who was subdelegate on Ile St.-Jean of the commissaireordonnateur of Ile Royale from 1751 to 1758 and also the military surgeon, made it back to France safely.117 Berbudeau may have been with Villejouin while the latter was held aboard a British vessel in the harbour of Port-la-Joie. In any event, on 28 April 1759 he is said to have landed at La Rochelle with his family, together with a large number of refugees. It is possible that he and his family landed there earlier, since it is known that by that date some members of his family were receiving rations from the government.118 He settled at La Rochelle and carried on a medical practice among the Acadian refugees. Nicolas Deslongrais, keeper of the King’s warehouse at Port-la-Joie, who had no family, debarked at La Rochelle and by 28 April 1759 had left for Paris.119 Madame de la Bregeonnière, wife of Ile St.-Jean’s Capitane Aide Major, arrived at St. Malo with a son and two daughters on 17 November, aboard the Queen of Spain from Louisbourg. On 21 February 1759 they left for Rochefort.120 If they reached Rochefort, they must have moved on to La Rochelle since they, together with a sauvagesse domestique, are recorded as being there on 28 April 1759. An Acadian domestic servant died prior to the family’s arrival at St. Malo. The Sieur de la Bregeonnière, who had been an officer at Port-la-Joie since 1753, seems to have reached France shortly after 22 July 1759, following his detention in England.

46 Many of those residing on Ile St.-Jean were able to escape deportation. Villejouin noted that some settlers went to the Miramichi and returned due to food shortages. They may have been fugitives from Rollo’s troops, or they may have gone prior to Rollo’s arrival, hoping to find better food supplies there. In any event, large numbers fled to Miramichi, the Bay of Chaleur and Québec without returning. Major General Amherst dispatched Brigadier James Wolfe to Miramichi, the Bay of Chaleur and Gaspé to capture and deport the inhabitants. One of Wolfe’s men, Brigadier James Murray, reported having been at Miramichi on 15 September where he learned that many Acadian refugees were at a settlement about ten leagues up the [Miramichi] river, including "some Familys who had fled from the Island of St Johns since the taking of Louisbourg". All were in a starving condition.121 They had sent most of their effects on to Canada and expected to go there themselves imminently, according to Murray.

47 A number of prominent people were among the fugitives from Ile St.-Jean. They included members of the Gautier and Bugeau (Bujold) families who had been shipowners and anti-British activists in Acadia before moving to the shores of the Hillsborough River on Ile St.-Jean.122 In 1758, just prior to the arrival of Rollo, both families left Ile St.-Jean and moved on to the head of the Bay of Chaleur. From there Nicolas Gautier, among others, provided assistance to displaced Acadians and strove to thwart British military initiatives. Bona Arsenault maintains that "numerous" inhabitants from Ile St.-Jean took advantage of the assistance of Gautier and others to relocate to the Bay of Chaleur region.123 Some of their names show up in a 1760 census of the region. Parish registers for Sainte-Anne-de-Ristigouche for the years 1756-61 have marriage and death (burial) entries which are said to relate to "several hundred" Acadian refugees from Ile St.-Jean.124 Bernard-Sylvestre Dosque, the 31-year-old parish priest from Malpec fled the Island as well. He reportedly spent the winter of 1758/59 at Miramichi.125 In 1759 he became the parish priest at Beaumont, Québec and when he died in 1774 he was pastor of the Cathedral of Québec.126 Chevalier Johnstone (James Johnstone), who is said to have been a soldier in the garrison at Port-la-Joie, also reportedly escaped from Ile St.-Jean to the Miramichi.127 An egocentric Scottish Jacobite, he had served as aide-de-camp to "Bonny" Prince Charles in Scotland and after the Battle of Culledon fled to France. After coming to Louisbourg he became a lieutenant and apparently was subsequently posted to Ile St.-Jean. From Miramichi he made his way to Québec where he served as aide-de-camp to Lévis and later Montcalm. Johnstone is probably the only member of the garrison at Port-la-Joie not taken prisoner. He may have "taken leave" shortly before Rollo and his troops arrived. Alternatively, he may have been allowed to depart after Rollo’s arrival, since he is known to have had close family connections to Rollo.128 Louise-Marguerite Potier Dubuisson, who died at Restigouche in August 1760 and had come from Ile St.-Jean, also appears to have been among the fugitives.129 She is very likely the sister (but possibly the daughter) of Robert Potier Dubuisson, who served as the subdelegate of the intendant of New France on Ile St.-Jean from 1722 until his death in 1744.130

48 Some of the inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean escaped deportation simply by fleeing into the local woods and hiding for some months to evade discovery by Rollo’s soldiers. The majority of the inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean had lived along the rivers draining into Hillsborough Bay and around the rim of the Bay and adjacent waters. The location of the Hind and the transports in the harbour of Port-la-Joie was thus a very strategic one for rounding up settlers. Rollo’s focus on this part of Ile St.-Jean meant, however, that residents of outlying areas had an opportunity to escape his net. It is likely that some residents of St. Pierre-du-Nord, the most populous community of Ile St.-Jean, were able to flee. Since the fishery was an important industry in St. Pierre-du-Nord, schooners and other craft were available to facilitate escape. Malpec, however, is where most of the evasive activities took place and as such received special mention in Rollo’s reports to Louisbourg. Tradition has it that some of the inhabitants of the parish went into hiding in the woods to escape deportation. It is probable that at least some settlers in other areas somewhat remote from Port-la-Joie, such as Bedec (Bedeque), La Traverse (Cape Traverse), Rivière des Blonds (Tryon) and Rivière au Crapeau (Crapaud), as well as remote settlements in what is now Kings County, were also able to evade arrest and deportation. Possibly even a few settlers from areas easily within the reach of Rollo’s troops were able to avoid capture by taking to the woods.

49 From the beginnings of Acadia, the French formed a close bond with the Micmac and Maliseet people, who actively assisted the French in their struggles with the English in Acadia and around its shores. Micmac from Ile St.-Jean occasionally participated on the side of the French in raids or military activity on the mainland.131 From the evidence available, they do not appear to have become involved in thwarting Rollo’s troops in any major way, receiving mention in only one of the reports that have survived and that reached Louisbourg during the deportation. In this report Rollo estimated that there were 150 Indians in the northwestern part of the Island and he appears to have had some concerns about their presence. He reported that "there hath been a large number of young [Micmac] men in the Woods plundering their Neighbours, & sending their [French] cattle to the Continent, whether they go themselves I cannot say, but if they stay may prove troublesome Neighbours".132 Having their hands full in rounding up inhabitants in the eastern part of the Island, Rollo’s men appear to have done little, if anything, to deter the Micmac in their enterprise. It would seem that the Micmac were active in the parish of Malpec and that their purpose was to help get as many of the French settlers’ cattle as possible off to Miramichi and to points on the mainland further north. As well they killed cattle that could not be saved in this way, thus preventing livestock from falling into British hands.

50 At the time that Port-la-Joie capitulated, British officials reportedly found a number of human scalps in Villejouin’s residence. Boscawen wrote to Pitt, stating that the Island had "been an Asylum of all the French Inhabitants of Nova Scotia and have from this Island constantly carried on the inhumane practice of killing the English Inhabitants for the sake of carrying their scalps to the French who paid them for it, several Scalps being found in the Governors Quarters when Lord Rollo took possession".133 This charge has been the subject of some controversy, revulsion and denial. Many authors have noted the claim, and the "several scalps" have by a process of progressive distortion become "a considerable number", and ultimately, a "vast number". Two historians from Prince Edward Island, A. B. Warburton and Andrew Macphail, have totally denied the report, labeling it the "grossest misrepresentation", and a blot on the character of Villejouin, a "generous and humane man", who simply could not have been "a scalp hunter or a scalp buyer". Both authors claim that there is no evidence to support "so foul a charge".134

51 In fact there is ample evidence, both circumstantial and direct, to support the claim that scalps were found in Villejouin’s quarters. Villejouin on occasion sent Micmac to Acadia to pillage and harass the English. In the summer of 1756 Villejouin sent seven Indians on a mission to Acadia. At Pisiquid (now Windsor, N.S.) they scalped two English people and returned to Villejouin with the scalps and a prisoner.135 Pierre Gautier, Nicolas Gautier’s brother, and like him, a thorn in the side of the British, did his part to obtain British scalps.136 He was a resident of Ile St.-Jean and frequently shuttled between the Island and Louisbourg. He became port captain at Port-la-Joie in 1757 and during the summer and fall of that year made three separate forays from Louisbourg to Halifax to reconnoiter enemy troop size, warship deployments and other military activities and to take prisoners as a means of obtaining intelligence. A French diarist at Louisbourg noted in September 1757 that Gautier had gone to Halifax with four Indians to capture prisoners. However, "they did not succeed in doing so; they only killed two men whom they scalped". The same year another French diarist at Louisbourg wrote that "Gautier...a sworn enemy of the British" had been retained on several occasions to go to British ports "with some Indians, who never returned without bringing scalps and prisoners, secured even at the foot of the ramparts [presumably the citadel in Halifax], and I must say that Gautier received a well deserved reward from the general".137 Official dispatches show that Gautier’s missions to Halifax were commissioned jointly by three senior officials at Louisbourg: Governor Drucour; Jacques Prévost, the commissaire-ordonnateur; and Dubois de la Motte, lieutenant-general of naval forces. In a letter to the minister in Paris, Prévost described Gautier as "an intelligent and zealous inhabitant of Ile St.-Jean" who had previously "provided very useful service". Prévost added that Gautier, together with six Indians, had ambushed, killed and scalped two British grenadiers who had been guarding stone cutters working on the fortifications of the citadel in Halifax.138 Official records show that not only did the most senior officials at Louisbourg approve of taking British scalps, but that they advised their superiors in Paris of Gautier’s exploits and that Parisian officials responded positively as well.139

52 These dealings involving British scalps were not unusual in 18th century British North America, including Acadia and its coasts. Governor Vaudreuil of Québec reported that in the winter of 1755/56 Indians from Pictou had taken several scalps which they brought to Louisbourg.140 On another occasion Prévost informed the minister in Paris that a detachment of troops, some inhabitants of Ile Royale and some Indians, had "destroyed thirty English from a privateer in the Strait of Canso". Ten scalps were removed and taken to Louisbourg.141 Acadian settlers living at Ramshag (now Wallace, N.S.) acknowledged in 1755 that they had provided provisions and ammunition to Indians from Ile St.-Jean who had conducted raids on English settlers in Acadia.142 Clearly, there were many opportunities for British scalps to make their way to the Commandant’s residence at Port-la-Joie.

53 The authorities in Louisbourg had every intention of resuming deportation operations in the spring or early summer of 1759 and rounding up those they had missed taking into custody in 1758. Whitmore reported on 27 June 1759 that he had sent three armed vessels to Ile St.-Jean for this purpose and that they were expected back imminently.143 He wrote on 7 July 1759 concerning a "whole Parish of the Inhabitants of the Island of St Johns that could not be gott in Time Enough to be sent Home last Fall". Early in the spring he had chartered a ship to go to Ile St.-Jean, together with two armed sloops, to take soldiers to Fort Amherst to relieve the garrison there and to bring back all the French who remained on Ile St.-Jean. The ship and one sloop returned on 30 June with a message from Captain Johnson, who had been left in command of Fort Amherst by Rollo. Based on Johnson’s information, Whitmore informed Pitt that "all the French were gone off to Canada just before our sloops gott round to that part of the Island".144 It is more likely that most of the families at Malpec left the Island by late fall of 1758. Their priest, Father Dosque, fled the Island in 1758 and had most of his parishioners remained behind for the winter, it is unlikely that he would have abandoned them.

54 Some of the inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean who escaped Rollo’s net by hiding in the woods, whether in the Malpec region or elsewhere, and who spent the winter on the Island, may have left early the following spring. However the majority of these probably simply went into hiding again, and thus escaped Whitmore’s troops in 1759. When Samuel Holland came to the Island in 1764 to survey it for the British, he noted the presence of a small Acadian population: "these poor people were left on the Island after the surrender of Louisbourg, when the other inhabitants were transported to France, as they lived at a distant place and in the Woods, but surrendered themselves afterwards, and when indulged by some of the Commanding Officers of Fort Amherst to live on their Fishery and Gardening".145 Lord Selkirk’s diary, written forty-five years after the deportation, indicated that the French on the Island were "descendants of a few fugitives who concealed themselves in the woods at the time that the Acadian Settlers were transported out of the country".146 This observation was made at a time when some of those who hid were still alive to recount the experience. Little reliable information exists concerning how many settlers remained on Ile St.-Jean after Rollo’s departure and after Whitmore’s futile efforts in 1759 to take those who were still at large. A report in the fall of 1760 from Fort Amherst to Whitmore stated that "the French on the Island have come in".147 Six families had located themselves in the vicinity of the fort. The term "come in" meant that they had come to the fort to declare neutrality and, possibly, take an oath of allegiance and/or surrender firearms.

55 Those who took refuge in the woods or otherwise managed to evade Rollo’s troops, while remaining on the Island, must have had a difficult time existing over the next few years. By the winter of 1759/60, if not earlier, Captain John Adlam, who was then commanding officer at Fort Amherst, was issuing provisions "to support some of the French Familys of this Island, who came in and surrendered themselves, and were in such a miserable Condition that they must otherwise have perished".148 These and other unplanned distributions of provisions brought the garrison’s stores to "a low ebb" and resulted in butter supplies being totally exhausted. Although Whitmore spoke of relief being provided for "several distressed French Familys" on Ile St.-Jean, the number supported must have been considerably more than the term "several" would imply.149 Between 28 May 1760 and 26 July 1761 the provisions distributed to the French on Ile St.-Jean included 10,211 lb. of beef, 935 lb. of pork, and 7,907 lb. of flour, as well as peas, rice and butter.150 Deprivation obviously persisted for some time, since in October 1762 the fort commander received an application for provisions from 16 French families which "must inevitably Starve if they continued on the Island without some assistance".151

56 It has been long claimed that those few inhabitants of Ile St.-Jean who eluded Rollo’s troops by hiding in the woods were virtually all from the parish of Malpec, and that the remoteness of their forest refuge from Port-la-Joie enabled them to avoid detection and capture. Over close to a century, more than a dozen authors have made this claim and asserted that practically all of the Acadians in Prince Edward Island are descendants of settlers from Malpec who hid in the woods in the northwestern part of the Island. This notion is now changing, at least in part, as a result of decades of genealogical research into specific Island Acadian families.152 We now know that by 1763, if not before, a few of the families who had fled the Island began to trickle back. The observations of British officials who came to the Island in the 1760s have suggested to some historians that wooded areas besides Malpec may have harboured refugees on Ile St.-Jean during the summer and fall of 1758 and spring of 1759, given the reported distribution of the population.153 Also, it is conceivable that a few inhabitants were deliberately left behind by Rollo on account of their being ill with contagious disease.154 Conclusions are difficult to draw, however, since those remaining on the Island may well have moved from one area of the Island to another during the 1759-63 period. The task of trying to establish how many inhabitants took refuge in the woods on the Island and where, is further complicated by the return of some refugees who had fled elsewhere.

57 How many people were deported from Ile St.-Jean? How many escaped deportation? Indeed, what was the population of the Island at the time of Rollo’s arrival? These questions have been addressed critically by only a few historians, though written about by many. Since the available evidence is fragmentary and conflicting, the answers have been estimates only, and have varied.155 During the final years of the French regime on the Island, the population increased rapidly due to immigration from Acadia. No good census data are available for the last year or two prior to the deportation. However there are several estimates dating from the late 1750s.156 "An accot of the Inhabitants on the Island of St Johns" sent by Boscawen to Pitt indicated that the number of residents on the Island, exclusive of the garrison and administrative ranks, was 4100.157 This is Rollo’s estimate and was brought to Louisbourg by the Hind. On 8 September Boscawen ordered transports necessary for the removal of 3540 inhabitants, the number the British thought were left on the Island, after transporting a first contingent of 692. Rollo’s estimate of the total population, then, must have been 4232. Apparently, he obtained this number by adding the estimated 4100 to a more precise count of 132 for the garrison, administrative personnel and their families, all located at Port-la-Joie. The difference between 692 and 132 (which is 560) indicates the number of non-military and non-administrative inhabitants sent off to Louisbourg on 31 August. This, 560, is precisely the number of Ile St.-Jean inhabitants embarked at Louisbourg on the Mary for St. Malo under Captain Donaldson. While the numbers tally nicely, and probably give a good indication of the total number of military and administrative staff and their families, this does not mean that Rollo’s estimate of 4100 is necessarily correct.

58 Villejouin wrote that 700 people were detained with him and that about 4000 remained to be deported. This would suggest a population of 4700, which may or may not make allowance for inhabitants who had fled the Island. Villejouin’s letter was written early in the deportation process and the number of inhabitants who had fled the Island by then was probably small. Villejouin’s 700 would have included the 132 people comprising the garrison, government officials and staff, and their families. Villejouin was the most senior official on Ile St.-Jean, had resided there for four years, and had struggled with the problems of housing and feeding a rapidly expanding population. It is likely that he had good knowledge of the total number of inhabitants in his jurisdiction — better knowledge than one might expect of others such as Rollo or the Bishop of Québec, who in the autumn of 1757 wrote that the population of Ile St.-Jean was "at least 6000".158 The best estimate in round numbers that can be made of the population with the evidence at hand is 4600, or 4700 if the garrison, government officials, staff and their families are included. It is improbable that the population exceeded 5000, and almost certainly was under 5500.159

59 Figures for the number deported have varied considerably. In his history of Louisbourg, J. S. McLennan claims that 3540 were deported, but this is not reliable.160 D. C. Harvey places the number at 3500. However, his reasoning is flawed and his estimate is almost certainly too high.161 The letters of Rollo and Whitmore indicate that 3107 prisoners had been taken by the time that Rollo left the Island.162 This would have included the garrison, government officials, staff and their families. The best estimate of the number of inhabitants deported would seem to be 3107 or 3100 in round numbers. About 3000 of these were not associated with the military or government.

60 The number of inhabitants who escaped from the Island in 1758 has been variously reported as 600, about a thousand, 1500 and "about a third of the population."163 It is not clear how any of these estimates were constructed. The number who evaded Rollo’s troops can be approximated by subtracting the estimates of deportees from estimates of the population. If the population in 1758 was 4700, of whom 3100 were deported, the number of inhabitants who evaded deportation must have been 1600. The possible error in this number, expressed as a percentage, is fairly large, however. If the population, for example, were as large as 5500, and 3100 were deported, then the number for those who managed to avoid deportation would be 2400, or 50 per cent greater. "Six hundred" is clearly a gross understatement of the number of fugitives from the Island, and "about a thousand" would appear, also, to be an understatement. The estimates of 1500 and "about a third" are consistent with each other, if the population was 4500, which is very close to the population estimate of 4600.

61 There were at least 16 French families, or roughly 100 people, on the Island in the fall of 1762.164 Holland estimated that 30 families resided on the Island in 1764 and another estimate has 300 Acadians resident that year.165 Almost certainly these numbers for 1764 would have included Acadians who returned to the Island after the deportation and perhaps even a few who had come for the first time.166 From the available evidence, it would seem that not more than 100 to 200 people remained on the Island immediately after mid-1759. If roughly 1600 evaded deportation, then 1400 to 1500 did so by fleeing the Island, while 100 to 200 remained. Table Three shows probable estimates.

Table Three : Population Deported and Population Remaining on Ile St.-Jean


Display large image of Table 3

62 A complete picture of the loss of life resulting from the deportation is unlikely to ever be known, but it is possible to obtain better estimates than have appeared to date. Many authors have only considered the deaths by drowning associated with the loss of the Duke William and the Violet. Almost certainly some of the Ruby’s passengers drowned and this may have been the case with one other transport. The number of deaths aboard the transports resulting from illness and disease, was undoubtedly even greater. The incidence of death aboard the Mary, under Captain Donaldson, was unusually high — about 45 per cent of the passengers. The five transports which arrived at St. Malo on 23 January 1759 with passengers from Ile St.-Jean lost about 33 per cent of their passengers in transit. The Supply’s passengers were a little more fortunate, only 25 passengers, or 15 per cent, died during the crossing.167 About 10 per cent of the 61 passengers known to have embarked on the Tamerlane died crossing the Atlantic. An average mortality of 33 per cent is probably a reasonable estimate for the transports which crossed to Europe safely, but for which we have no mortality data. The durations of the voyages of the Duke William and the Violet were at least a month shorter than those of most of the other transports. The mortality rate due to disease on these two vessels was, consequently, probably less than average. I have estimated it at 25 per cent. Table Four presents these estimates as well as the figures where there are more precise numbers. It suggests that about half of those deported from Ile St.-Jean, or between 1600 and 1700 settlers, may have lost their lives before reaching Europe, and that considerably more died of illness and disease than by drowning. The number of deportees who died on the way to Europe was roughly the same as the number who saved themselves by fleeing the Island. These figures do not include those who died in England aboard anchored transports or in detention compounds, or those who died in the hospitals and refugee camps of France, as a result of sickness contracted during the ocean crossing or during the months thereafter.168

About the Landscape > History and Development > Deportation and New Settlement 1755–1810

Deciding to Deport the Acadians
The Seven Years’ War, sometimes called the first “world war,” pitted Britain against France and involved allied countries on both sides. While France concentrated on the war in Europe, Britain sent 20 000 troops to North America in a bid to bring down France’s colonial empire. The war led to the fall of New France.

As world events crowded in on Acadian and British settlements in Nova Scotia, the British administration, known as the Nova Scotia Council, decided to revisit the question of Acadian neutrality. They did so more forcefully than in the past, when their control over the province had been more nominal than real. Over the next few years a complex series of events unfolded that culminated in what became known as the Grand Dérangement, the Deportation of the Acadians. This term refers collectively to many separate forcible removals that took place over seven years beginning in 1755.

In the early summer of 1755, the surveyor-general of Nova Scotia, Charles Morris, prepared a detailed plan for the Nova Scotia Council that outlined how the Acadians might be removed from their lands in Nova Scotia and dispersed elsewhere in other British colonies.

This plan revived a school of thought that dated back to the 1720s when some British officials favoured removing the Acadians from Nova Scotia and replacing them with Protestants, either British or “foreign,” who would be loyal to the British crown. The British had also noticed the value in the fertility of the farmlands owned by the Acadians, which were an economic driver in the area. The idea of attracting “foreign Protestants” surfaced periodically for several decades; even before the British brought over German and Swiss Protestants to establish the new town of Lunenburg in the early 1750s, a British plan of 1748 shows where Protestants might be settled in the Grand Pré area. The 1748 plan shows where the New England Planters would later establish their town (see Figure 2–31).

In June 1755, an expedition put together by acting Nova Scotia Governor Charles Lawrence and Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts captured the two French forts in the Chignecto region, Fort Beauséjour and Fort Gaspareaux. When news reached Halifax that 200 to 300 Acadians had taken part in the defence of Beauséjour – compelled to do so by the French commander of the fort – the authorities in Halifax saw this as a sign of Acadians’ complicity with the French. The Nova Scotia Council decided that all Acadians in the Chignecto region would be rounded up and deported, even if they or a member of their family had not helped to defend the French fort. About a month later, on 28 July 1755, after meeting twice with the deputies of the Acadian communities on mainland Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Council resolved to remove every Acadian man, woman and child from all of Nova Scotia. The Deportation would begin at Grand Pré and nearby Pisiquid in early September.

While the deportation of the Acadians was about removing a disloyal group, there is no denying that the fertile dykelands at Grand Pré and elsewhere were also extremely important to the British plans for settlement. The acting governor of Nova Scotia, Charles Lawrence, offered the following opinion on 18 October 1755, in a letter to the Lords of Trade in London, England:

… As soon as the French are gone, I shall use my best
endeavours to encourage People from the Continent to
settle their lands … and the additional circumstances of the
Inhabitants evacuating the Country will, I flatter myself,
greatly hasten this event, as it furnishes us with a large
Quantity of good Land ready for immediate Cultivation.

In the end, of the slightly more than 14 000 Acadian men, women and children, three quarters were deported to other parts of North America or to Europe. The rest went into hiding or fled.
The Deportation at Grand Pré
The events at Grand Pré were among the earliest and largest of the Deportation. Most importantly, they were recorded by some of the key British participants. The records provide a detailed historical account of the events and their impact on the Acadians, and also set the context for later depictions of Acadian culture. They also provide later Acadians with a snapshot of a transformative event in their cultural history. The following information comes from the two most important sources: the journals of Lt-Col. John Winslow and of one of his junior officers Jeremiah Bancroft.

Lt.-Col. John Winslow of Massachusetts was the officer in charge of rounding up and deporting the Acadians from Grand Pré. He arrived on 19 August 1755 with about 300 New England provincial soldiers. He gave no indication of what was to happen, but gave the impression he was there on a routine assignment. His first act was to establish a secure base of operations, because his force was greatly outnumbered by the 2100 Acadian men, women and children living in the Minas Basin area. For his stronghold, Winslow chose the area around the Grand Pré parish church, Saint-Charles-des-Mines. His soldiers erected a palisade around the priest’s house, the church, and the cemetery, and his troops pitched their tents within that enclosure (see Figure 2–32). So as not to upset the Acadians unnecessarily, Winslow informed community leaders they should remove the sacred objects from the church before it became a military base. By early August 1755, the parish priests of Saint-Charles-des-Mines, and of neighbouring parishes, had already been arrested and brought to Halifax to await their deportation to Europe.

As August 1755 came to a close and September began, the Acadians of Grand Pré and other nearby villages were harvesting crops from the dykeland and cultivated upland areas. This harvest, although the Acadians could not know it, would be their last in Grand Pré.

On 4 September 1755, Lt.-Col. Winslow issued a call for all men and boys aged 10 and older to come to the parish church at three o’clock the next afternoon to hear an important announcement. A similar ploy was used by Capt. Alexander Murray to call Acadian males of the nearby Pisiquid region to come to Fort Edward, on the same day at the same time. In fact, the British had used a similar ruse on 11 August in the Chignecto area to attract and imprison some 400 Acadian men in Fort Beauséjour, renamed Fort Cumberland after its capture, and Fort Lawrence. Winslow and his men had witnessed this just before their departure for Grand Pré.

On 5 September, 418 Acadian males of Grand Pré proceeded to their parish church – now surrounded by a palisade and controlled by armed soldiers – to hear the announcement. Once they were inside, Winslow had French-speaking interpreters tell the assembled men and boys that they and their families were to be deported. Included in the announcement was this statement:

that your Lands and Tenements, Cattle of all Kinds and Live
Stock of all Sorts are Forfeited to the Crown with all of your
Effects Saving your money and Household Goods and you
your Selves to be removed from this ... Province.

Jeremiah Bancroft, one of Winslow’s junior officers, records in his journal that the look on the Acadian faces as they heard the announcement was a mixture of “shame and confusion ... together with anger.” He added that the “countenances” of the Acadians were so altered they could not be described.

The removal of the roughly 2100 people who lived at Grand Pré and in the neighbouring villages proceeded neither quickly nor smoothly. Winslow had to cope with a shortage of transport ships and provisions. The men and boys spent more than a month imprisoned within either the church of Saint-Charles-des-Mines or on the transports anchored in the Minas Basin before the rest of the population was forced on board the ships. Winslow described the scene of the first contingent of young men, marching from the church along the road beside the dykeland to what today is known as Horton Landing (see Figure 2–33).
Acadians lived together in large, extended family units. Although Winslow gave orders that families were to be kept together, this often proved impossible in the confusion and because of the small size of the ships. Friends, relatives and neighbours were separated, never to see each other again.

On 19–21 October, the soldiers compelled families from outlying communities to assemble at Grand Pré in preparation for their eventual loading on board transport ships. This group of Acadians numbered about 600, from 98 families. While they waited for the transports to arrive, they lodged in the now-empty Acadian homes near Winslow’s camp, along the upland area by the reclaimed marsh. These families were deported to the Anglo-American colonies just before Christmas 1755. This time the departure point was not Horton Landing but another spot nearby.
The Acadian Odyssey
In the coming decades, thousands of Acadians would land at ports around the world, only to depart again in search of a place from which they could one day return to their homeland in Acadie. Out of this Odyssey was born the Acadian diaspora.

Between 1755 and 1762, the British authorities organized the gathering of Acadian populations in key locations to board ships and sail in convoys to various destinations (see Figure 2–34). In the last months of the year 1755 alone, 6000 Acadians, or close to half the entire population, had been deported: from the Minas Basin area, including Grand Pré, from the Pisiquid area, from Chignecto and from Port Royal.

In the Minas Basin area that year, a total of 2100 Acadians were removed. This includes the removal, by late October 1755, of over 1500 Acadian children, men, and women – with children by far the largest category – from Grand Pré and nearby villages onto the transport ships. The convoy sailed out of the Minas Basin bound for Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. At the same time, transport ships carrying an estimated 1119 Acadian deportees from the Pisiquid area also sailed south to destinations in the Anglo-American colonies.


These ships formed a convoy as they were joined by those carrying the 1100 deportees from the Chignecto area who were destined for the southernmost colonies of the Carolinas and Georgia. In December, some 1664 Acadian men, women, and children from the Port Royal region were also deported from Annapolis Royal to the Anglo-American colonies. In the years that followed, thousands more would be deported from Acadie, mainly to France, following the fall of Louisbourg in 1758. Some 4000 Acadian deportees from île Royale (Cape Breton Island) and île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) were deported directly to France in the fall of 1758, as were more than 200 inhabitants from the Cape Sable area in 1758 and early 1759. In the summer of 1762, another 915 Acadian men, women, and children were deported from Halifax to Boston. The Boston authorities refused to accept them. The ships brought the Acadians back to Nova Scotia, where they were detained as prisoners of war. The movement of the Acadian people is illustrated in Figure 2–34.

These deportees were sent to different locations, with the intent by Governor Charles Lawrence to “divide [the Acadians] among the colonies … as they cannot easily collect themselves together again.” Some were sent to the New England colonies, whose authorities were required to provide shelter and food. Many colonies did not wish to take on that burden and did not allow the ships to land, forcing them to continue on to the next port. In many cases, families were separated, children were assimilated into Protestant families, and adults were subject to imprisonment or servitude. In some colonies, the governors were anxious to get rid of the deportees and granted them passports to travel freely between borders, with the hopes that they would move back to Nova Scotia. Some Acadians, after Virginia refused to welcome them in 1756, were sent as prisoners of war to Britain, where they were distributed among the coastal towns of southern England. These were eventually sent to join thousands of deportees that had made it to France. The return to France did not offer any comfort, however, as there was too little land for them to settle. Many ended up destitute.
After the fall of New France in 1760, the authorities in Nova Scotia did not wish to have the Acadians back, even though the British no longer deemed the French to be a threat. Authorities in other parts of Canada needed settlers and were open to attracting the Acadians. The Governor of Québec, James Murray, was one who pursued that idea. In a 1761 letter to Jonathan Belcher, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia at the time, Murray wrote that Belcher would be ill advised to allow the Acadians back to the lands they had vacated. He argued that it “... must renew to them in all succeeding Generations the miseries the present one has endured & will perhaps alienate for ever their affections from its Government, however just & equitable it may be.” Nova Scotia’s need for settlers prevailed, however, and in 1764 the British authorities gave Acadians leave to settle there again, with certain conditions attached to their return: they could not settle on the lands they had once occupied, and they could not concentrate in large numbers. This latter condition was to prevent them from forming a community. Some 1600, or a little more than 10 per cent of the pre-Deportation Acadian population, decided to settle in Nova Scotia and the two neighbouring maritime provinces.

The Acadian regions of present-day Nova Scotia are now hundreds of kilometres away from their former settlements, primarily in the southwest and in Cape Breton. Most of those who survived the Deportation preferred to settle instead in Québec, in France, or in French territory such as Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, Santo Domingo (present-day Haiti), and Guyana. In 1785, some 1584 Acadians made their way from France to Louisiana, then a Spanish colony. They are among the ancestors of today’s Cajuns.

The Acadians who had been deported to France came directly from the conquered French colonies of Ile Saint-Jean and Ile Royale in 1758 and, in 1763, from Virginia via England where they had spent seven years in detention. In total, some 3000 deportees arrived in France in the mid-18th century. They were concentrated in the Poitou area and in Belle-Ile-en-Mer in Brittany. Most were unsuccessful in settling, and the French authorities increasingly considered them a burden. In 1785, two-thirds of them departed for Louisiana. Two decades earlier, in 1763, others had arrived in the French island territory of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon near the coast of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean. They were removed by the French in 1767 and brought back in 1768. In 1778, the British took control of the islands and deported the entire population to France. The islands changed hands several more times before the French recovered them in 1816 and Acadians were finally able to return. Both in France and in its overseas territories, the few Acadian families that settled there eventually adapted to mainstream society but retained a sense of their ancestry and their identity through oral tradition and artistic expressions.

Acadians had settled in Louisiana as early as 1764. Some families came from Nova Scotia via Santo Domingo, in 1764–1765, while most of the other families went directly from Maryland and from other Anglo-American colonies, through the Caribbean. They were joined in 1785 by the large group from France that had not succeeded in resettling among the French. Acadians were concentrated principally in southern Louisiana and exerted much influence in politics and in the economy. Until the American Civil War in 1861, Louisiana was a bilingual state where French was actively used in public administration, the courts, and business. Steadily, however, that presence was eroded as mainstream Louisiana society came to view the expression of Cajun (Acadian) culture as inappropriate. Legislation was passed in the early 20th century to integrate Cajuns into mainstream society through the school system. Throughout the 19th century, much as in Acadie, the Cajuns preserved their traditions because of relative isolation. They followed in the steps of Acadians in Canada and adopted some symbols, including Notre Dame de L’Assomption as their patron saint. Music, songs, and other artistic expressions maintained the oral tradition of their story and the collective sense of identity.

However, the Cajuns had to wait until the middle of the 20th century to rekindle a severed relationship with their homeland in Acadie. Grand Pré was to serve as the location of that return.

The Acadians who ended up in Guyana and the Caribbean were sent there by the French authorities, whose twofold aim was to relieve the burden on the administration in France and to settle the colonies that France had kept after signing the Treaty of Paris in 1763. From France, the Acadians were sent to settle the Falkland Islands, Guyana, and Haiti. Although some families remained where they had landed, over time the majority made their way to Louisiana. There is little awareness today, in Guyana and the Caribbean, of an Acadian identity at a community level.

In Québec, the Acadians settled in every corner of the province starting in the late 1760s. Mostly concentrated along the St. Lawrence River, they progressively settled in other areas where agriculture was predominant. The province of Québec is where the largest Acadian population was living by the end of the 18th century. Because of the similarities in religion, language, and social status with the Canadiens (French Canadians, today’s Québecois), the Acadians easily integrated into mainstream society. The Acadians who lived in the province embraced the struggle for the rights of French speakers that drove politics and social discourse in Québec throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite their integration, these communities maintained an awareness of their ancestry and contact with the Acadian communities of eastern Canada. In the late 19th century, delegates from those communities in Québec attended the national Acadian conventions held in New Brunswick. The largest population of Acadian ancestry is still in Québec.
The Arrival of the New England Planters and their Legacy
Having addressed the Acadian threat by deporting most of the Acadians, the British authorities sought to address the Mi’kmaq threat by signing treaties with them throughout the 18th century. Indeed, the Mi’kmaq had been allies of the French and the Acadians. During the Deportation, the Mi’kmaq helped some Acadians escape into the forest and in many instances sheltered them as their own. For the British Crown, these treaties meant peace with the Mi’kmaq and the freedom to settle Nova Scotia with populations whose loyalty was unquestionable.

Once the Acadians were removed from their lands, the British endeavoured to attract settlers from New England. In late 1758 and early 1759, they issued inducements to attract land-hungry settlers from those colonies. The colonists, known collectively as the New England Planters, arrived in 1760 at Grand Pré, an area they knew by reputation to be a highly productive agricultural district (see Figure 2–35). What they found instead was that a large portion of the dykeland was submerged.
The authorities drew up plans for a town in Horton township based on their typical colonial settlement pattern, a rectilinear town grid with central squares, perched on the highest point of land. For Grand Pré, renamed Horton except for the vast marsh that retained its original French name, the town plot was laid out on the hills adjacent to Horton Landing nearest to the Gaspereau River. The settlers were allocated four types of land: a parcel in the town plot, a parcel of cleared upland, a parcel of dykeland and a woodlot. The New England Planters were directed to settle the town and to relocate existing buildings and erect new ones.   

The first order of business for the British authorities was to take possession of the dykelands, redistribute them to the new farmers, and ensure that the farmers acquired the skills they needed to maintain the dykes. The interior sections of the Acadian-created dykeland were still protected by dykes, and the authorities immediately distributed them to individual farmers. The sections that had been flooded with seawater in 1759 posed a greater challenge. New England Planters had no experience with dyke building and dykeland farming practices before they arrived in Grand Pré. The British authorities turned to imprisoned Acadians, some of whom were at nearby Fort Edward, for advice, assistance and labour.

New England Planters were at first not as successful farmers as their predecessors. They knew nothing about drainage on the dykelands, the little need for manure on those lands, the value of ploughing in autumn rather than in spring, and crop rotation, all practices that arose from an understanding of the environmental conditions of an intertidal dykeland. Over time, thanks to the knowledge and techniques they learned from the imprisoned Acadians, the newcomers who settled on the uplands at Horton eventually became master dyke builders themselves.  

The British settlement pattern proved inefficient for the farmers. The four types of land they had been allocated were often scattered across the landscape. As a result, many parcels of land were sold or exchanged. Most farmers wanted to live on their best land, not in a town plot on a promontory. The New England Planters quickly understood the efficiency of the Acadian settlement pattern. As they were under no threat from the French or the Mi’kmaq after the fall of the Fortress of Louisbourg in 1758 and Québec in 1759, they abandoned the town plot in favour of the dispersed and linear Acadian settlement pattern along the dykeland. They continued the Acadian relationship between the living space on the uplands, the primary farmland on the dykeland, and the woodlots for building materials. The New England Planters expanded the living space farther upland, erecting churches and community halls, and settled on Long Island as well. By 1817, the Governor of Nova Scotia Lord Dalhousie would note, “There is no town of Horton; it is a scattered settlement of neat common houses, small farmers, but rich in their way of life.”

It is noteworthy that the Acadian pattern of local ownership and control over the dykeland would be continued when the New England Planters took over Grand Pré in 1760. In fact, the first legislation relating to dykeland was passed by the government of Nova Scotia as early as 1760. It provided for a group of owners to appoint commissions and a Commissioner of Sewers for each dykeland in Nova Scotia. This recognized that building and effectively maintaining dykelands can only be done collectively and locally (see Figure 2–36). The Commissioner would decide what work was required and arrange for labour and the raising of all funds to meet costs associated with keeping the dykes in repair. The farmers would share expenses for dyke maintenance. They would also appoint from among themselves individuals to assess the size and value of dykelands, to “police” the dykelands and monitor the condition of the fields, to verify fences and enclosures, and to perform other similar duties of common interest.

As time went by, the New England Planter settlements at Horton and elsewhere put down deep roots. Much of Horton itself would, in the 20th century, see its name revert to what the Acadians had called it: Grand Pré. Wherever they settled, the New England Planters and their descendants exerted an influence on Nova Scotia’s culture, politics, landscape, and architecture. The best-known standing buildings in Grand Pré associated with the New England Planters are the Crane house (1767), the Calkin house (1768), and the Covenanter Church, constructed between 1804 and 1811. Nearby Acadia University, in Wolfville, also has a link with the New England Planters, although it dates from a few generations later. A Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Robert Borden (1854–1937), is probably the best-known New England Planter descendant. He was born and raised in the village of Grand Pré.
(Figure 2-33) 2–33 The stained glass at the Memorial Church at Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada depicts the deportation of the Acadians.
[they] went off Praying, Singing, & Crying, being Met by the
women & Children all the way…with Great Lamentations
upon their knees praying.
On 8 October 1755 the mass embarkation of the men, women, and
children to the waiting ships began, with the small boats setting off
from Horton Landing. Those who lived at Grand Pré and Gaspereau
went first. Winslow recorded that,
[the inhabitants left] unwillingly, the women in Great
Distress Carrying off Their Children in their Arms, Others
Carrying their Decrepit Parents in their Carts and all their
Goods moving in Great Confusion and appeared a scene of
Woe and Distress.
(Figure 2–34) Destinations and movements of the deportees during the Acadian Odyssey. Based on an original design by Robert Leblanc.
After the Acadians were forcibly removed from Grand Pré in 1755, no one was left to carry out routine repairs on the dykes. In November 1759, a great storm struck at the peak of the 18.03-year Saros cycle, when tides are unusually high in the Bay of Fundy and Minas Basin. A sea surge broke the dyke walls at Grand Pré in several places alongside the Gaspereau River, and sea water flooded a large portion of the eastern and western sections of the dykeland. Some of the dykes that had protected earlier enclosures were still intact and stopped the water from invading the entire dykeland.

In 1759, the British authorities subdivided Nova Scotia into counties for administrative purposes. The County of Kings covered a large area along the Bay of Fundy, including the Minas Basin. The county was divided into three townships: Cornwallis, Horton, and Falmouth. Grand Pré fell within the jurisdiction of the township of Horton. It had the largest amount of dykeland – over 2000 hectares (5000 acres) – and included 1200 more hectares of cleared upland. These conditions were ideal for an agricultural settlement.
(Figure 2–35) A Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada monument at Horton Landing commemorates the arrival of the New England Planters in 1760.

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